September 24, 2016 – Meeting

“Victoria Woodhull, First Woman to Run for the U.S. Presidency” portrayed by Mary Kate Tripp.

President Ann Artrip introduced Mary Kate Tripp who gave an interesting portrayal of Victoria Woodhull, the first woman to run for the U.S. presidency. In 1872 she ran against Ulysses Grant, 50 years before women had the right to vote.

Tripp began her presentation as Woodhull with a convincing argument for women’s suffrage based on guarantees in the U.S. Constitution. She then talked about Woodhull’s colorful and controversial life. Born Victoria Claffin in 1838, she was one of ten children. The family lived in Homer, Ohio before moving to Mt. Gilead where they resided for a time at the American House Hotel. Victoria and her sister, Tennessee, performed as mediums in their father’s medicine shows. At the age of 15, Victoria married her first husband, Dr. Woodhull, who was much older and an alcoholic. Later living in Dayton, she married a Col. Blood, but Dr. Woodhull continued to live with the couple.

A beautiful woman, Victoria supported the family as a medium or spiritualist. She became an advisor to Cornelius Vanderbilt, who provided financial backing for her and Tennessee to open a brokerage firm on Wall Street. She also published a newspaper promoting her fight for women’s rights and her belief in “free love” which incurred the wrath of prominent minster, Henry Ward Beecher. She responded with a story of his marital infidelities which landed her in jail charged with libel, where she was held until after the election when the charges were dropped.

After Tennessee married an English baron, Victoria spent time in England enjoying the social life there. Upon her return to America, she renewed her fight for women’s rights but hiding her beauty with a very masculine appearance. She died in England on June 9, 1927, at the age of 89.