America, like most countries, has a complicated history when it comes to women and politics. Women's ability to participate in elections has varied over time based on matters like state rights, property rights, and how old and white the dudes in power were when they passed legislation. But in 1872, nearly 50 years before she could even vote for herself, a woman by the name of Victoria Woodhull declared her candidacy for the presidency, proclaiming loudly that she didn't need a man to make her decisions for her. She also claimed to have a full cabinet of ghost advisers, which is a somewhat more difficult progressive stance to get behind.
Along with her sister Tennessee, Woodhull had made a name for herself by being the first female stockbroker in America -- a job which (to use Wall Street jargon) she totally crushed. She got her foot in the door when she offered her services as a spiritual medium to Cornelius Vanderbilt, of the Rich As Fuck Vanderbilts. She then revealed to Vanderbilt that she not only could reach out to his deceased wife, but also pick up some juicy stock tips from the beyond. Under the protection of Vanderbilt, Victoria and Tennessee started trading stocks themselves, earning hundreds of thousands of dollars thanks to "divine intervention." Woodhull's closest spirit advisers were Demosthenes (for wisdom), Napoleon (for courage, and Josephine (for advice on cake futures). It's probably worth mentioning that she was also friends with a high-end brothel owner who eavesdropped on her business tycoon clientele. Probably unrelated, though.
New York Evening Telegraph
Based on this picture, she also wasn't afraid to cash in favors from her other friends, the Bodysnatchers.
In 1872, Woodhull decided to use her 5,000 years of combined ghost wisdom to better not just herself, but all oppressed minorities. She was nominated by the Equal Rights Party, who lauded her as a staunch advocate of women's issues. She was a proponent of free love -- an outrageous notion for the time she lived in, because the 1870s version of free love meant that Woodhull believed women should be allowed to get a divorce and refuse sex to their husbands without punishment (a phrase here meaning "without getting raped"). Far out.
Ultimately, Woodhull's bid failed to garner any significant number of votes. This wasn't helped by the fact that Woodhull was arrested the day before the election for a totally unrelated reason -- namely, that she had published an "obscene" newspaper which criticized the double standard in adultery cases. The fact that her views on equal rights for women earned more public ire and derision than believing that Henry VIII came back from the dead to advise her on day trading says more about America than Americans should be comfortable with.
Victoria: "Napoleon says to invest in the railroad."
Men: "Haha, okay."
Victoria: "Women shouldn't be treated as property."
Men: "BURN THE WITCH."
For more nutjobs that were a little too close to becoming world leaders, check out The 6 Most Insane People To Ever Run For President and 5 Crazy People Who Had A Shot At The Presidency.
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