Historic, but not famous

Victoria Woodhull, first female stockbroker

Cabinet card of Woodhull by Mathew Brady

Victoria Woodhull (1838 – 1927), was an American leader of the women’s suffrage movement. In 1872, she ran for President of the United States as the candidate from the Equal Rights Party, supporting women’s suffrage and equal rights; her running mate was black abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass. She was an  activist for women’s rights and labor reforms, Woodhull was also an advocate of “free love”, by which she meant the freedom to marry, divorce and bear children without social restriction or government interference.

With her sister, Tennessee Claflin, she was the first woman to operate a brokerage firm on Wall Street making a fortune. The firm ran with the assistance of  Cornelius Vanderbilt, an admirer of Woodhull’s skills as a medium. Newspapers called them “the Queens of Finance” and “the Bewitching Brokers.”

They were among the first women to found a newspaper in the United States, Woodhull & Claflin’s Weekly, which began publication in 1870 in New York City. The women used their earnings from their work on the stock exchange to start the paper. The paper ran for 6 years with feminism as the primary interest, but it became notorious for publishing controversial opinions on taboo topics, advocating among other things sex education, free love, women’s suffrage, short skirts, spiritualism, vegetarianism, and licensed prostitution. The paper was the first to print  the first English version of Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto in its edition of December 30, 1871, and the paper argued the cause of labor skillfully.

Ms. Woodhull was involved in American Women’s Suffrage, politics and publishing until she and her sister moved to England in 1877. In England, she gave lectures, published a magazine and married a third time. She also went on to call for reform in British schools by advocating for Kindergarten education. She eventually retired to a quiet farm near Worcestershire where she died in 1927.

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