Victoria Woodhull was known throughout the United States in the 19th century as an independent woman. She charted her own course, oblivious to the social mores of the day. For this she received constant criticism within the male dominated society in which she lived, and today historians and political scientists are quick to remind us of just how much Victoria and a certain modern, female politician have in common.
Woodhull shocked the country with her outspoken opinions on just about every social issue of her day. She was a fierce fighter for women’s rights and took great delight in reading her iconoclastic broadsides in the newspapers, some of which caused much discomfort for some people in high places.
It was no secret that Victoria was a vociferous proponent of free love. She argued that if the stigma attached to pre-marital and extra-marital sex were removed, it would be a sure-fire cure for much of what America called immoral.
When her critics proclaimed that her promiscuity made her little better than a prostitute, she countered by naming one of her paramours and insisting that if she was guilty of doing wrong, then so was he. That’s when she accused one of the nation’s most famous ministers of the day, Henry Ward Beecher, of practicing sexual infidelity while at the same time preaching against it, and she knew that of which she spoke. Victoria Woodhull had been one of the preacher’s lovers...