Monday, May 3, 2010

(Some) Women And (A Little) History

Continuing in much the same vein as the last two posts I decided that today I will talk about women and history. Specifically U.S. women and presidental history. Don't ask me why this subject interests me as much as it does, but it does.

Today, I will again try to keep it fairly brief. This is not out of any concern for the reader I must admit but sheer laziness. LOL. As always I would encourage you to read further on the subject - both on the internet and at the library.

This will not be a definitive listing of all the women to run until Hillary Clinton as in researching this on non Wikipedia sites it turns out that the list of candidates (both those that were considered more or less serious than others) is really quite long. These are just a smattering of those that interested me, as I was writing this, the most. These are the women who ran beginning in 1872 and ending in the year I was born 1968.

Let us begin at the beginning. Or at least at the beginning as I know it. The first woman I know of that ran for the presidency of the United States did so in 1872. That was almost exactly (4 years difference) 100 years before I was born and in the blink of an eye it will be 150 years ago! Her name was Victoria Woodhull.

One of the most interesting things about her is that she actually was quite radical in her personal life. She worked as a prostitute at one time! She also was a spirtualist. Although being a spiritualist wasn't as out there as some might think in "Victorian" times. Her sister Tennessee was also a spirtualist and got into some trouble as a result of this work. Her sister later married a titled British man. Woodhull herself didn't marry as well as her sister did but she did marry again, also to a British man. A banker. Not so bad I guess.

She also worked on Wall Street as the first female broker along with her sister. She and her sister became close to a big financier of the day, Cornelius Vanderbilt, who set them up in that business. They eventually had a falling out though, I believe.
They became quite wealthy as a result of this career turn.

Another thing she did was work as a muckraking journalist for a newspaper that she was in fact the publisher of. This was something she was able to do as the result of her financial success as a broker. She got in some trouble for this muckraking though. She was the one to expose a leading preacher of the day of having an affair with one of his parishoners. This got her into trouble as he was quite popular and was from a prominent family (he was the brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe).

When she ran for president she actually chose as her running mate a black man, the also famous Frederick Douglass. He apparently disassociated himself from her during the campaign.

Also during Woodhulls lifetime there was another woman who ran to become the first female U.S. President. That was a woman named Belva Lockwood. Lockwood was a teacher then a principal and finally a lawyer. One of the first, if not the first lawyers in the United States. She gained her education after being widowed early and had, as it can be expected many troubles obtaining her education at that time.

Some say that she was the first women to legally run for president (because of some legal criticisms of Woodhull's candidacy) in 1884 and again in 1888. The first time she ran she ran with a female running mate. The second time with a male one. On her second run, her original choice for running mate was not shy in making his horror at the idea known and she had to pick another (again it was a male).

According to my favorite by not only source Wikipedia the next woman to run for President was in 1940 and was Gracie Allen. Yes, that Gracie Allen. It was apparently a gag/publicity stunt and her "party" was the Surprise Party. LOL. During the campaign she did a tour and with the "help" of the Burns/Allen writers wrote a book. She apparently even got some votes!

Fast forward to 1964. That is the year a Republican, Margaret Chase Smith, decided to run. She ran for the nomination of the Republican's to run for President for their party but did not get the nomination. She was a politican and was seen by some as a credible candidate but aside from sexism, ageism played a part in her not being taken very seriously overall. She was 66 at the time.

Finally in 1968, the glorious year that is my birth year and a pretty eventful year in U.S. history with the assassinations of both Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. there was a run at the Presidency by the first Africian American woman (no not Shirley Chisholm). This was Charlene Mitchell and she ran for the Communist Party! Unlike Shirley Chisholm who ran her unsuccessful campaign for her parties nomination but was a popular and long-time elected politican, Charlene Mitchell actually got her parties nomination.

She was apparently the great granddaughter of a slave and was the only woman (or one of two) that the Communist Party has run for President. She got only 1,076 votes in the election compared to the 4,000 odd votes Belva Lockwood got in one of her two runs much earlier in the history of women running. It is also the case it seems that in the early 1990's she was run out of the party and now is part of an off-shoot party.

Well, that concludes my look at a small sampling of women who attempted to run for the U.S. Presidency. This also probably concludes, for awhile anyway, my writing about "world" events topics. So this will have to do for that, FJ. Back to my usual unimportant silliness that usually provides fodder for this masterpiece I call my blog. LOL.


1 comment:

  1. Bravo Carmen! I like your post about women in politics.
    If you are interested in this topic, perhaps you could read Wiki's article about Michelle Bachelet.



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