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Fayette County woman ran for president

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By The Staff

So, you think Hillary Clinton was the first woman to run for president? Think again.

Her name was Victoria Woodhull, and in the year 1872 she was chosen by the Equal Rights Party to run as its candidate for president. She couldnt vote, but she could run for office.

Born in Homer, Ohio, on Sept. 23, 1838, Victoria California Claflin was married at age 15 to Canning Woodhull. It was her marriage that brought her to Fayette County.

After construction of the Illinois Central Railroad through Illinois, a line called the Chicago branch ran through LaClede Township at an angle. The town of Farina grew up along this line, and Canning Woodhull was chosen to be the first station agent on the line.

The History Of Fayette County, published in 1878, makes mention of this fact, adding, Farina claims the credit (if it be a credit) of having once been the home of Victoria Woodhull. She is remembered by many of the citizens, who related some amusing anecdotes about her.

By the time Victoria made the bid for the office of president, she was a fairly wealthy woman. By the time she was done, she had very little money left.

With her sister, Tennessee Claflin, she had started a newspaper, Woodhull & Claflins Weekly, in New York, the first to print the Communist Manifesto in English.

They also established the first stock brokerage firm owned by women, Woodhull, Claflin & Co., and Victoria was the first female stockbroker on Wall Street. Victoria Woodhull is also believed to have been the first woman to address a joint committee of Congress.

Ahead of her time, she believed in an eight-hour work week, graduated income tax, profit sharing and social welfare programs. She believed in equality, a nice fit for the Equal Rights Party, which would nominate Frederick Douglass as her vice presidential running mate.

Although members of this party were from diverse backgrounds suffragettes, spiritualists, laborers and communists they held the common belief that the government needed reform.

Much like today, they sought a more representative government "of the people, by the people and for the people." And, like today, they wanted a government with principles.

Although it was obvious that Victoria Claflin Woodhull would not be the first woman president, the fact that she was put up as a candidate sent the message that it was time for a woman in the White House. And now, 136 years later, that message is still being sent.

People in power got worried. Rather than debate her on issues, attacks of a personal nature began. Sound familiar?

Woodhull was called everything from a witch to a prostitute, and by the time the spin machines of the other political parties had used up every negative word they knew, she could not even find a landlord in New York to rent her a room.

Newspapers lent their hand and refused to publish information about her campaign, saving space for personal attacks.

With her family, she was evicted from their home in New York. Shortly after the 1872 run, Victoria moved to England with her family, where she died in 1927.