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A blog dedicated to the examination of communications in election campaigns, with a focus on posters
Thursday, April 16, 2009
In 1872, Victoria Woodhull became the first woman to run for the presidency of the United States. A one-time actress, spiritualist, prostitute, and free-love advocate, she was a member of the Marxist International Workingmen's Association. She was also 76-year-old Cornelius Vanderbilt's lover, and (with his advice) did quite well in investing. She and her sister soon became the first women to establish a banking and brokerage company on Wall Street. By 1870, the two sisters had the means to publish Woodhull and Claflin's Weekly, which covered such topics as women's suffrage and labor-management issues.
Also in 1870, Woodhull announced her intention to run for president—even though women did not have the right to vote (and would not gain it until 1920). In early 1871, she testified before the House Judiciary Committee on behalf of women suffrage. Her speech impressed several leaders of the suffrage movement, including Susan B. Anthony, Lucretia Mott, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Woodhull soon rose to a leadership position.
In January 1872, the National Women Suffrage Association nominated Woodhull to run for president. Her campaign platform supported a woman's right to vote, free love, nationalization of land, fair wages, and much more. Woodhull ran under the banner of the new Equal Rights Party, but her name was not printed on ballots and write-in votes for her were not counted, as Ulysses S. Grant won a second term.
The next women to run for president was Belva Lockwood in 1884. A lawyer, as well as a leader in the women's suffrage movement, Lockwood also ran as a candidate of the Equal Rights Party. Her platform not only called for women to be given the right to vote, but also advocated for civil service reform, Native Americans, African Americans, immigrants, protection of public lands, and temperance. She ran an energetic campaign, but the mainstream candidates—Grover Cleveland and James Blaine—refused to debate her. Lockwood garnered 4,149 votes (in the six states that allowed her name on ballots), as Cleveland won. Anthony and Stanton supported Blaine. Lockwood also ran four years later, with her vote total unknown.
After the results were announced in 1884, Lockwood declared that most men hang on to "old ideas, developed in the days of chivalry," but that "equality of rights and privileges is but simple justice."
The campaign itself witnessed much Lockwood paraphernalia, including stickpins, mechanical paper cards, ribbons, tickets, tobacco cards, and magazine cartoons.
Sources: Women in History: Victoria Woodhull— http://www.lkwdpl.org/wihohio/wood-vic.htm; Ballot Access News: http://www.ballotaccess.org/2007/01/22/women-running-for-president-in-the-general-election/; Jill Norgren, Belva Lockwood Blazing the Trail for Women in Law: http://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/2005/spring/belva-lockwood-1.html; Jack Wilson (2008, Summer/Fall/Winter), "Belva Lockwood for President," The Keynoter.
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