Victoria Claflin Woodhull (September 23, 1838 – June 9, 1927) was an American suffragist who was described by Gilded Age newspapers as a leader of the American woman's suffrage movement in the 19th century.
Woodhull was nominated for President of the United States by the newly formed Equal Rights Party on May 10, 1872, at Apollo Hall, New York City. A year earlier, she had announced her intention to run. Her nomination was ratified at convention on June 6, 1872. Former slave Frederick Douglass was nominated for Vice President. Douglass never acknowledged this nomination. Instead, he served as a presidential elector in the United States Electoral College for the State of New York.
While many historians and authors agree that Woodhull was the first woman to run for President of the United States, some people have questioned the legality of her run, usually citing one of the following reasons:
The government declined to print her name on the ballot.
This criticism is not valid as the government was not responsible for printing ballots. In 1872, political parties were responsible. This practice changed in the United States between the years 1888-1892 with the adoption of the Australian ballot. The Washington Post, about fifty years after the election, claimed that the Equal Rights Party published ballots bearing her name and that they were handed out at the polls. Because no Equal Rights Party ballot for 1872 has been preserved, this claim cannot be confirmed. The first woman to appear on a presidential ballot printed by the government was Charlene Mitchell in 1968.
She was under the constitutionally mandated age of 35.
This is the most cited criticism in the 20th and 21st centuries, but was hardly noticed in the 19th. The presidential inauguration was in March 1873. Woodhull's 35th birthday was in September 1873. Some contend attorney Belva Lockwood was the first woman to run for President, because she was over the age of 35 when she ran in 1884 an...