Victoria Woodhull (1838–1927)
Follow the purple arrows on the signs as you walk
As a young woman, Victoria Claflin Woodhull lived with her large family and an accumulated entourage in both sides of a double house located on the site of this parking lot. Buck Claflin moved his large family frequently, as some of his business dealings were questionable, so Victoria was not a long-term Massillon resident.
A Spiritualist, Victoria claimed contact on the other side with the Greek orator Demosthenes, who told her to move her entire clan to New York City, where she and her sister, Tennessee, who was always at her side, opened the first female-owned Wall Street financial district brokerage. The sisters were highly successful, possibly because of Tennessee’s very close relationship with Commodore Vanderbilt.
Victoria served as president of the National Spiritualist Association and went on to share the stage with leading women’s rights leaders Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, but her ahead-of-her-time ideas caused them to separate themselves from her.
By that time, Victoria really wanted to maintain her national influence, so she took it to the top, running for President in 1872…50 years before women had the right to vote! She was NOT elected, as you may remember. Ulysses S. Grant won that campaign. She could not have taken office had she been elected because she was too young. Her platform was free love, which was NOT widely accepted 150 years ago. AND she was in jail on election day. The media had quit covering her campaign, so she and Tennessee had started their own newspaper and Victoria wrote about her free love views. When they mailed Claflin’s Weekly to subscribers, they were arrested for sending obscenities through the mail.
In the wake of scandals involving some of America’s leading families, like the Vanderbilts, Beechers, and Tildens, both sisters moved to England. Tennessee married a baron and lived the rest of her life in luxury as a minor royal. Victoria married a prominent London banker. She loved to drive and was a patron of early aviation. She ran again for President in 1896, even less effectively that the first time.
The famous cartoonist Thomas Nast depicted Victoria Woodhull as Mrs. Satan for tearing families apart with her free love ideas. I prefer to remember the sisters as the Beautiful Brokers.
Directions: Please continue walking west down the hill on Federal Avenue until you reach the Rodney G. Klein Stock Market Museum, on your right, in the old post office building at Erie Street. Look diagonally across the intersection at the “Valor” mural.