Victoria Claflin Woodhull – 1838-1927
Born into a family of impoverished eccentrics, Victoria Claflin was part of her family’s traveling medicine and fortune-telling show, continuing in this even after she married Canning Woodhull when she was 15 years old. Moved by a vision of the ancient Greek orator Demosthenes, Victoria Woodhull met shipping and rail mogul Cornelius Vanderbilt, who was deeply interested in spiritualism. Backed by him, Woodhull began publishing a magazine and launched into a variety of reform movements, which made her a national sensation. These included women’s suffrage, free love, and, finally, what she called “mystical socialism.” In 1872, the highly visible Woodhull became the first woman to run for president when the Equal Rights Party nominated her.