Born into poverty in Ohio and given little formal education, she married at fourteen and gave birth a year later to a handicapped son. Her new husband proved to be an alcoholic, incapable of supporting her, so she was forced at the tender age of fifteen to become the primary breadwinner for herself, her child, and even her husband, whenever he managed to be on the scene.
She supported herself as a spiritualist--a popular and lucrative career for a woman in the mid-Nineteenth Century when women's options were few. Just after the Civil War, she met her future husband, James Blood, in St. Louis. They fell madly in love, divorced their current spouses and quickly married.
Blood was an intellectual and a social radical. He tutored Victoria in all manner of political discourse of the day and recognized not only her astonishing intellect, but her amazing gift for oratory. They moved to New York and together with Victoria's younger sister, Tennessee Claflin, started a radical newspaper, Woodhull & Claflin's Weekly. They opened the first women's brokerage house on Wall Street.
Victoria began speaking out on women's issues, particularly suffrage, and was the first to address the Judiciary Committee of Congress on the issue of whether women were "persons" within the meaning of the newly passed Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the constitution. (A topic still inciting controversy to this very day.) She became famous--some would say, notorious-- for her advocacy of the notion of Free Love. She knew through her own hard experiences in life what many women's rights advocates of her time did not: that women needed much more than the vote to achieve a fair and equal place in American society. They needed a full bank of rights--liberalized divorce laws, fair property rights, in short--equal protection under all the laws.
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A comprehensive website to visit is http://www.victoria-woodhull.com/