Woodhull, Victoria

Woodhull, Victoria (Claflin),

1838–1927, and

Tennessee Claflin,

1846–1923, American journalists and lecturers, b. Ohio, sisters noted for their beauty and wildly eccentric behavior. As children they traveled throughout Ohio with their parents, giving spiritualist demonstrations. At 15, Victoria married Dr. Canning Woodhull but continued to tour as a clairvoyant with Tennessee. Victoria divorced Woodhull in 1864 and two years later probably married Col. James Blood (there is doubt as to the validity of the marriage). Tennessee married John Bartels but retained her maiden name. In New York City after 1868, the sisters were backed in a brokerage venture by Cornelius VanderbiltVanderbilt, Cornelius,
1794–1877, American railroad magnate, b. Staten Island, N.Y. As a boy he ferried freight and passengers from Staten Island to Manhattan, and he soon gained control of most of the ferry lines and other short lines in the vicinity of New York City.
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, who was interested in spiritualism. In 1870, Victoria and Tennessee, with the financial support of Col. Blood, became proprietors of Woodhull and Claflin's Weekly, a sensational journal that took stands in favor of woman suffrage, free love, and socialism. In 1872 the paper reported rumors of a love affair between Rev. Henry Ward BeecherBeecher, Henry Ward,
1813–87, American Congregational preacher, orator, and lecturer, b. Litchfield, Conn.; son of Lyman Beecher and brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe. He graduated from Amherst in 1834 and attended Lane Theological Seminary, Cincinnati.
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 and the wife of Theodore TiltonTilton, Theodore,
1835–1907, American journalist, b. New York City. After working for the New York Observer he was (1863–71) editor in chief of the Independent, a Congregationalist weekly.
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, which provoked a national scandal. Also in 1872, the journal published the first English translation of The Communist Manifesto. In the same year Victoria became the first woman candidate for president, running on the People's party ticket with Frederick DouglassDouglass, Frederick
, c.1818–1895, American abolitionist, b. near Easton, Md. as Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey. The son of a black slave, Harriet Bailey, and a white father, most likely his mother's owner, he reinvented himself by taking the name of Douglass (from
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 as her running mate. The two sisters moved to England in 1877. Victoria, having divorced Blood, married John Biddulph Martin, a wealthy banker. Tennessee, also divorced, married Francis Cook, an English art collector who became a baronet in 1886. Both women became well-known philanthropists.


See biographies by J. Johnston (1967) and M. M. Marberry (1967); B. Goldsmith, Other Powers (1998); M. Gabriel, Notorious Victoria (1998); E. Fitzpatrick, The Highest Glass Ceiling: Women's Quest for the American Presidency (2016).

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References in periodicals archive ?
Woodhull, Victoria. "'And the Truth Shall Make You Free': A Speech on the Principles of Social Freedom." New York: Woodhull, Claflin & Co., 1871.
With her daughter Zulu Maud Woodhull, Victoria published a periodical entitled Humanitarian (1892-1901).