Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Victoria Woodhull: First Woman Presidential Candidate (Notable Americans)

Victoria Woodhull: First Woman Presidential Candidate (Notable Americans)

Jacqueline McLean
For ages 14 and up
Morgan Reynolds Publishing, 1999   ISBN: 1883846471

Victoria’s hopeful mother Annie gave her daughter a grand name in the hope that Victoria would live up to the “regal” name that she had been given. Even when she was still quite young Victoria herself came to believe that she would be a leader of some kind one day. Victoria’s childhood was often hard for her father only just managed to make ends meet. After the family was left homeless because of a fire fourteen year old Victoria and her younger sister Tennessee became spiritual mediums and they were the main breadwinners in the family. When she was only fifteen Victoria married Doctor Canning Woodhull. It was not long before she discovered that her husband was an alcoholic and poor Victoria was trapped in a very unhappy marriage with two small children to take care of.

Later, when she was twenty-eight, Victoria divorced Doctor Woodhull to marry Colonel James Harvey Blood. She, Tennessee and their families moved to New York City where the sisters set themselves up as mediums once more. They made friends with many of the rich and powerful people in the city and it was not long before they had a stock brokerage business of their own and were publishing a highly successful newspaper. Victoria set herself up as a champion of women, the poor, and the labor classes. She made many friends in the women’s rights movement and in 1872 Victoria ran for the presidency on the Equal Rights Party ticket.

Unfortunately Victoria made some very powerful enemies. Her outspoken ideas about women and marriage ended up getting her arrested numerous times and the fortune she had made was eaten up by legal fees and paying off debts. Victoria did not succeed in the political arena but she did earn the love and respect of many.

Readers will find this account of this most extraordinary woman’s life to be quite fascinating. Unlike many of the other women in the women’s rights movement, Victoria came from very humble beginnings and she had to make a place for herself in the world using her wits, her charm, and her natural intelligence as her only tools. This she managed to do, though her successes were somewhat meteoric in nature. Still, hers is an interesting story and it has much to offer the young men and women of today.