Presidential candidates, part I


Presidential candidates, part I


Lots of talk this week about women running for President. It’s been something girls do since 1872. The Constitution says you have to be 35 and a “natural-born citizen” of the US to run for President. You must have lived at least 14 years in the US. No other criteria specified.

When Victoria Woodhull announced her Presidential candidacy in 1872, the suffrage movement was in the midst of the “New Departure” - a bold strategy of civil disobedience and lawsuits insisting that women inherently possessed the right to vote as citizens.

Woodhull wasn’t exactly a veteran of the suffrage struggle. But she had a gift for publicity, and managed to testify to the House Judiciary Committee in 1871. She argued that the 14th Amdt guarantees citizenship to those born here or naturalized - voting is part of citizenship. J

Susan B Anthony & ElizCadyStanton came to Congress to watch. They were impressed and invited Woodhull to work with them, which they quickly regretted. That’s a story for another day. Woodhull’s presidential run had a few defects: she wasn’t 35 yet, for starters.

She was a third-party candidate, which has never been easy - she created the Equal Rights Party. She named Frederick Douglass her running mate - without asking him.

Her platform included both “free love” - meaning sex outside of marriage for women and men, and a kind of socialist paradise where children and property are overseen by the state - a sort of national kibbutz. These were not popular ideas.

Dismissing Woodhull’s race as a stunt is too obvious - of course it was a stunt. Other than a handful of women voters in Wyoming, women’s formal political power in 1872 was nil. That was the point. Tomorrow: Belva Lockwood and beyond! 


Daily Suffragist




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Daily Suffragist, “Presidential candidates, part I,” Daily Suffragist, accessed June 24, 2024,

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