Welcome to my World: Historians estimate at least 200 women sought office of U.S. President

Most historians estimate at least 200 women have sought the office of the U.S. President. I was stunned. I decided to devote a four-part series to 8 of them and let my readers research the 194 that are left.

Victoria Claflin Woodhull (1838-1927) was the first woman to run for President. Her parents ran a traveling medicine show. At a very early age Victoria and her sister were pushed into telling fortunes and earn money.

In 1868, the family moved to New York City. There the sisters befriended Cornelius Vanderbilt, a widower and railroad baron, and became his spiritual advisors.

Even though the sisters had very little education, with the help of Vanderbilt, they became the first female stockbrokers, in 1870, as well as one of the few women publishers of a radical weekly newspaper.

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Victoria became involved with the Women’s Suffrage Group and was the first woman to address the House Judiciary Committee. In 1870, (and again in 1884 and 1892) she announced her candidacy for President winning the 1872 nomination of the Equal Rights Party. Her platform promoted women’s suffrage, 8 hour work day, welfare for the poor, and more.

At this time, Woodhull was shy of the age of 35 needed for the presidency, but her name did appear on some ballots in a few states, but probably weren’t even counted. Women didn’t even have the right to vote (until 1920).

On Election Day itself, Woodhull was already in jail for defamatory and obscene remarks in her paper about a preacher and his affairs. After being evicted from her home, being sued, and the government confiscating her main business incomes, and debts galore, she moved to England.

In England, in 1883, she married a wealthy banker. Once widowed, she devoted her last years to running a newspaper, giving lectures, and philanthropy.

My next choice was Belva Ann Bennett Lockwood (1830-1917). At 14, she was already teaching school. She was married as a teen, widowed at 22, with one daughter. In 1857, she graduated from Genesse College.

In 1865, she moved to Washington D.C. and became active in equal rights for women. She successfully got a bill passed for federal female employees to receive the same salary as men.

She married Dr. Lockwood in 1868. Before widowhood again, she obtained a law degree, in 1873, from National University School of Law who accepted women. Alas, the school was unwilling to give a woman a diploma. Belva then wrote a letter to President Grant and soon she received her diploma.

She was admitted to the D.C. bar, but not without struggle. One judge even told her that God said women were not equal to men and never could be.

By 1879, she finally got a law passed that persuaded Congress women could practice law in federal courts. By 1880, she was the first woman to defend a case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

In 1884, (and again in 1888) she ran for president under the National Equal Rights Party. In order to earn money for her campaign, she traveled and got paid for her speaking. She is said to have received 5,000 votes, but not the presidency. Her platform consisted of policies for tariffs, equal political rights, foreign affairs, and more.

Through the rest of her life Lockwood continued to practice law and speak out for women’s suffrage issues. She believed in World Peace and represented the Universal Peace Union until her death.

Victoria and Belva, albeit different personalities, stood up for their beliefs of equality for women in a land known for “equal rights.” They were the pioneers that paved the way for future women to become President. They were way ahead of their time! Bravo!