Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Victoria Woodhull - Ahead of her Time

In 1872, 48 years before women earned the constitutional right to vote, one woman launched her campaign for the US presidency. Though her presidential bid was unsuccessful, Victoria Woodhull, had taken a remarkable leap towards equality for women. A fierce advocate for women's suffrage, Woodhull spoke before the House Judiciary Committee - the first woman to do so - and made a legal case for women voting. She argued that the 14th and 15th Amendments granted women full rights as citizens and that denying them the right to vote was unconstitutional.

Woodhull was also well-known as an advocate for free love. Though it was a controversial idea at the time, she felt that women should be able to have as many sexual partners as they so desired. During a speech in 1871, an audience member yelled out to her asking if she personally identified as a free-lover, to which she replied:

"Yes I am a free lover! I have an unalienable, constitutional, and natural right to love whom I may, to love as long or as short a period as I can, to change that love every day if I please! And with the right neither you nor any law you can frame have any right to interfere."

While we work this week to remember the women who helped shape our country, we should all take a moment to reflect on the unbelievable foresight and achievements of Victoria Woodhull.


Ellen said...

Bonnie, this is amazing!

I had no idea that she even existed, much less ran for president before women could even vote. I can't even imagine what a force she was, or what problems she confronted. It is amazing that she ran for president back in the mid 1800's and we still have had very few women run for that office today.

Lily Armstrong said...

Wow... And everyone says that the San Francisco diggers started the "free love" ideas. Isn't it amazing how some people can be completely edited out of history? I have honestly never heard this woman's name. It's incredible that she would run for president before women could even vote. What a hero.