Victoria Woodhull – Homer, Ohio

Victoria Woodhull – September 23, 1838 – June 9, 1927 (Libra and Aphrodite archetype)

A woman who was seen as a controversial figure in her time, was of course way ahead of her peers. She began her start in life with a family who had less than good intentions or you could spin the story by saying their way of surviving wasn’t exactly ethical or legal. She was a spiritualist, polyamorous, started a commune, in fact lived a pretty wild life. You can imagine that as a women’s suffragist, she would eventually be ostracized by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s world. Today, she would have just been a normal modern day woman.

What is significant about Victoria Woodhull is that she was the first woman to run for President announcing her candidacy in 1870. Her party was known as the Equal Right’s Party and she was accepted by them as a candidate in 1872. Frederick Douglass, a former slave and abolitionist leader, was her candidate for Vice President. What is also significant is that Victoria Woodhull spoke before the House Judiciary Committee and argued that women had the right to vote, under the demand that the constitution did not say women were excluded. There was nothing new to write, they just needed to realize this. Of course by this point she had already been ostracized by the suffragist’s who certainly did not want her going down in history for something they had worked so hard for. As a result of this, while the men were in favor of Victoria’s speech and thought her argument made perfect sense to them, they were deluged with an onslaught of wives and sisters who were telling them that she was nuts and they should not listen to what she had to say. Before too long they were laughing at her instead.

This last fact is the most difficult to fathom, in this time period, as it would be 47 years, from when she spoke, before women actually did get the right to vote. It also shows how women can be vindictive and ruthless toward other women and certainly are not the “better” sex for any position of authority as they are no better than men. What you can also see is that the suffragists had developed quite a large ego. What difference would it have made who got us the right to vote, as long as we had it?

Other amazing feats are that Victoria and her sister Tennessee were the first women stockbrokers to open shop on Wall Street. She ran a newspaper, which was how the suffragists ended up going against her. Victoria ran an expose on the brother of Harriett Beecher Stowe about his infidelity. She focused on him because he was a minister preaching to his flock against her beliefs on free love. What she was doing was showing the hypocrisy of his lifestyle, no different than say a Jim and Tammy Faye Baker story (or plenty of other ministers, priests, and other spiritual men you can think of in history).

Interestingly, while she had these fiercely liberal attitudes, she did no believe in abortion. However, she felt people needed to be responsible which is not something you can really disagree with. She believed in sex education and like Margaret Sanger, in this same time period, were both talking about family planning. Also like Margaret Sanger, believed in eugenics which has to do with improving the quality of human beings. Many people will fault both of these women for this thought process however, it is not wrong to believe in something that was popular in your era. From an intellectual standpoint it makes sense and for these brilliant women, who had good intentions to feel this way, you really want to know more about why they felt this was a good idea.

My introduction to Victoria Woodhull came in my Women’s History class in the early 1990’s. I was so fascinated by her because she had accomplished so much in her time period, yet was scorned by many women for her beliefs. I could relate to her story and wrote her name down so that I would remember it while out shopping for books. The book I read was Notorious Victoria by Mary Gabriel. Of course I was quite fascinated to learn that her life began right here in Ohio, not too far from where I myself grew up and went to High School. There is a non-profit organization now that is set up to continue her beliefs for family planning, education and other topics she might have been interested in called Woodhull Freedom Foundation.

**A new documentary is being made that has come to my attention via Twitter. Check out this website Clarinet Marmalade.

7/20/16 Guardian article: Notorious Victoria: The First Woman to Run for President

Lucy Stone – Oberlin College

August 13, 1818 – October 19, 1893 (Leo and an Artemis Archetype)

Lucy Stone was born and died in Massachusetts but what is important about putting her on an Ohio Women’s History page is her contribution to women which began to surface during her time at Oberlin College, in Oberlin, Ohio. While she was the next to the last of nine children, this did not distract her from becoming a leader and a survivor (you often see this amongst the eldest children). Observing how women were left to the mercy of men, as a young child and seeing that it was not to protect them but to take power over them, she decided she would never marry and would take care of herself. She was also distraught over the fact that the Bible included passages that re-enforced misogyny and this gave her reason to be spiritual frustrated. Naturally this was the sign of the times and so I am not putting down men of this time period, only showing how a woman from this time period made a name for herself and survived the obstacles of the period.

As a teenager she began her road to independence by teaching and soon learned that she was being paid less than what men received. Back then, it was a dollar a day! And people complain now about trying to make a living. Over the years, Lucy began to research women’s issues since the topic of women’s issues were just starting to appear in local newspapers. She attended abolitionist rallies and conferences and was impacted by the “Letters on the Province of Woman”, which would later change its name to “Letters on the Equality of the Sexes.”

Her education began at Mount Holyoke Female Seminary at the age of 21 but she left as quickly as she arrived when she learned that the Dean was in favor of slavery and not to keen on women’s rights. She then went on to Wesleyan Academy. It was here that she began to find solidarity amongst women and would follow the lead of a young woman, Abbey Kelley, an anti-slavery agent who tried in vain to speak up and make her voice heard. At the age of 25, after hearing that Oberlin College was one of the first of its kind to admit women and African-Americans, she hopped on a train and began her journey west to Ohio.

At Oberlin, she had a lot of high expectations for women on campus, a natural assumption. Unfortunately, she was wrong. She again was paid half what the male students were being paid for school type positions meant to pay expenses. She was having to do double the work of male colleagues and her health began to wane. She fought with the school on this and after a number of students supported her on this, she won.

At the same time, she was fighting to be a public speaker, which was not allowed for women at this time. What Lucy wanted to do was begin by approaching women’s issues on the platform. Amazingly, the men in her family supported her but the women did not.

She graduated Oberlin at the age of 30 and went on to continue speaking  and petitioning about women’s issues and anti-slavery. Other items of interest were that she kept her name after she did eventually marry and she wore pants (under her dresses).

To learn more, the only book I was able to find about her was “Lucy Stone: An Unapologetic Life“by Sally G. McMillen