1st Female Pres. Candidate Victoria Woodhull Advocated “Free Love”
May 10, 2010

Victoria Woodhull's Legacy?

On This Date In History: This obviously wasn’t Mother’s Day because it wasn’t officially established until 1914. But, this woman was seen by many as the antithesis of motherhood. On this date in 1872 Victoria Woodhull began her campaign for President. Her running mate was abolitionist, former slave and intellectual Frederick Douglass.    At that time, women weren’t even allowed to vote yet, she was running for president. Her platform was as a “free-thinking reformer” and supported free love, abortion, divorce, legalized prostitution and, of course, the women’s right to vote. One of the photos above is a portrait while the other is a cartoon showing her as the Devil. As part of her campaign, she sent out an article congratulating preacher Henry Ward Beecher for having an affair with a married woman in his congregation. But, she chastised him for not advocating the free love that she said he obviously practiced. On election day, she was in jail. The charge was for sending obscene material through the mail in violation of the Comstock Act. The offensive material was the Beecher article. Reports of her personal practices of free love did not help her at the polls. An opponent of hers didn’t learn from her mistake.

Woodhull Covorting With Satan!

Also on the ballot was George Francis Train who ran for President as the self proclaimed “Champion Crank of America.”   He was a millionaire with nothing else to do except to try and break speed records and advocate what he saw as struggles for freedom. Jules Verne is said to have based his novel Around the World In 80 Days on a trip that Train once took. But, Train didn’t count the days he spent in prison in France against his 80 days. He got involved in an attempted revolution and barely escaped a firing squad before he continued his global journey. He later beat his own record by going around the world in 67 1/2 days. No word on if he cheated on that one too.   Neither he nor Woodhull were elected President. In fact, I bet you won’t find them on any 1872 election tally boards.

George Francis Train

But, Train had a penchant for making money because his campaign proved to be a money making venture for him. He charged money for people to hear his speeches and he spoke over 1000 times to more than 2,000,000 people. He may have been the only presidential candidate to make a profit in the venture.  When Woodhull got in trouble, he tried to help her cause by publishing a collection of biblical quotations that he said were much more obscene than anything Woodhull had written.  They slapped the old bracelets on him too and he was whisked off to jail.

Victoria Woodhull and Tennessee Claflin drive the bulls and bears on Wall Street, Evening Telegram, February 18, 1870

Here’s a funny thing about this story. The Equal Rights party platform  was generally that of Ms. Woodhull.  If you care to search you can find numerous links that unravel the whole thing, but rest assured,   it was quite scandalous in 1872.  While it did not specify abortion and divorce, I suppose that Ms. Woodhull extracted that from the calls for protection of women from abuses of men and other forms of what they called equality.  This document supports the contention and inference of the concept of “free love,” divorce and abortion rights.  (note how it says “Children come into this world undesired and unprovided for…”)  It is interesting that they were vehemently against the death penalty but favored abortion.  Anyway, the specifics outlined regarding the platform talk about taxing the rich, a graduated tax, term limits for the President, Vice-President and Senators and the issuing of paper currency.  They also were against any land grants to railroads and thought that disagreements among nations should be settled by a “congress of nations” instead of armed conflict.   

Woodhull for President!

Today, we have a currency backed by the “full faith and credit of the United States,”  the United Nations and a graduated tax scale.  There are increasing calls to tax the rich and movements to try and limit governmental aid to corporations.  Divorce is certainly a part of society and prostitution is legal in parts of Nevada.  The US Supreme Court issued its famous (or infamous) Roe V Wade decision in 1973.  The platform actually went further as it wished to have government regulation of labor and also referred to children and the poor to be seen as “wards of the state” with the government taking responsibility for their care and eduction.  I bet that if you told someone in 1872 that many of the calls of Victoria Woodhull would be legal and/or accepted in 2010, they’d probably fall over. Then again, they’d probably also collapse if you told them that man had walked on the moon, cured any number of diseases and that baseball players were making millions of dollars a year.  I’ve heard a saying that illustrates an aspect of human nature: The people of Venice did nothing about the flooding problem until sewage was coming in their homes.  Perhaps the roots of the Tea Party movement were set long ago.

By the way….US Grant won re-election in the 1872 presidential race.

(Edit: You will find a somewhat militant sounding response below from someone who claims absolutely that it is false that Ms. Woodhull was in favor of abortion.  My source said otherwise without explanation.  The commenter left several quotes from Ms. Woodhull that seems to support the view.  I have examined the quotations and it does appear that Ms. Woodhull believed that abortion was murder.  However, the commenter has left out some key quotes.  For instance from Woodhull’s and Claffin’s Weekly (September 23, 1871: ” Abortion is only a symptom of a more deep-seated disorder of the social state. It cannot be put down by law.”  Also, from the same edition:  “Who proposes to disturb Madame Restel [underground abortion practitioner]? Who really wants that there should be no opportunity to secure an abortion under peculiarly trying circumstances?”  The stance seems a bit at odds with her “abortion is murder” contention.  But, from my analysis, Ms. Woodhull makes the argument that she wished to eradicate the situation caused women to want to have an abortion.  She blaimed the male dominated societal atmosphere.  In the same Sept. 23, 1871 article she concluded that, “Nearly every child born is an unwelcome guest. Abortion is the choice of evils for such women.”  She seemed to be saying the pregnancy was more often than not forced on women and therefore it was unpleasant and left them with a very difficult ordeal.  So, while the commenter is correct that she thought abortion was murder, it does not appear that she wished to make it illegal.  I attempted to contact the commenter by email but the person declined to reply.  She made some comment that the statement of her support for abortion was “utterly false” and then added a link to “someone who has actually done their homework.”  It is feministforlife.org.  When researching history, it is important to note exactly who is doing the research as they may have an agenda.  Often, when one has a point of view that they wish to push on any given subject, they may play up some positions and low key others to such an extent that they omit anything that may detract from the thesis.  I went to the primary source and I believe that my secondary source was justified in the position that Woodhull was in favor of abortion in the sense that she did not want to criminalize it.  There is no getting around the fact though, that on a number of occasions, she did equate it to murder.  BTW…the commentor also failed to point out that Ms. Woodhull’s publication was the first in the US to publish Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto in 1872.  My guess is that little fact may sway a reader’s sympathies, eh?   Nor  was it pointed out that Woodhull later married a rich UK Banker, John B. Martin, after which she apparently disavowed her previous position on free love, though I’m not sure if that included an alteration of her abortion view.    See…the truth is not always the whole truth. If you want more details, you need to secure a complete historiography; not just this blog, websites or single sources. 

SPC Severe Risk Tuesday AM to Wednesday AM

SPC Severe Probability Tuesday AM to Wed. AM

Weather Bottom Line:  This week will prove quite a challenge.  First off there will a warm front coming back through our area.  The NAM wants to bring some showers around here by midnight and then cuts it off by day break but then reintroduces showers late morning.  The RUC has rain from midnight to 5AM but the data ends there.  The GFS brings rain by about 3 AM and then carries it through the morning.  None of of the models advertises a rain total of much significance.  Now, I don’t see that the NAM severe parameters really going bananas while it calls for rain late Tuesday into Wednesday but the energy fields do rise markedly, which makes sense because the warm front comes through.  Early Wednesday morning, the dynamic fields start getting into the interesting territory.  Now, the GFS is similiar except that it has rain along with the rising dyanmic parameters late Tuesday into early Wednesday.  After that, the models both bring rain at varying times.

Tuesday Evening

The issue down the line will be periodic bits of energy being tossed out through the flow throughout the week.  That is what is prompting week-long forecasts having a chance of rain every day.  The truth is, no one can really time the impulses nor the exact route; so put in a chance of rain to CYA.  It is probable for rain as the warm front comes through on Tuesday.  The SPC has varying reasons for concern regarding strong storms on Tuesday so they put in a slight risk for our area but it doesn’t really have anything to hang your hat on conclusively except that a cold front is approachin.  The SPC does not mention late night Tuesday night but the GFS data supports that possibility as the cold front approaches, perhaps a shade behind the NAM. Either way, the slight risk area goes from Tuesday morning to Wednesday morning so the GFS solution is still covered.  If the cold front does come through, it won’t be for long as it will retreat rapidly back to the north in advance of another system coming through the flow.

Bottom line is that we get warmer and more humid by Tuesday afternoon through Friday at least with rain chances popping up now and then.  We’ll have to see how the severe potential actually shakes out.