Seeds: This week’s Democratic National Convention marks the first time that a woman has been selected to be the presidential nominee of a major political party. However, Clinton is not the first woman to ever seek a place the White House. That happened all the way back in the 1800’s when Victoria Woodhull, alongside her running mate, Frederick Douglass ran for the presidency. That’s right, women have been slowly making their way to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue since 1872 (which you’ll notice is almost 50 years before women were even granted the right to vote).
Core: Woodhull’s nomination came as a result of her plea for equal rights in front of the house Judiciary Committee in 1871. Although her testimony brought about no legislative reform, it did inspire the National Woman Suffrage Association to form the Equal Rights Party and hold a convention where Woodhull was selected as the party’s presidential nominee.
Skin: The significance of Clinton’s nomination in American history has pushed many to look back at the place that women have had in politics over the last 240 years, leading them to learn more about Victoria Woodhull and her groundbreaking campaign. However, as momentous as the occasion seems to us, many other countries wonder what took us so long to get here. The United Kingdom, Liberia, Portugal, Norway, Germany, France, and Switzerland (to name a few) all managed to elect female leaders before the United States.
Leaves: Even though the Woodhull/Douglass presidential ticket had about a 0% chance for success (once again, Woodhull couldn’t even vote in the election), the creation of the Equal Rights Party was extremely symbolic and revolutionary. Woodhull’s run for the presidency put the first scratch in the glass ceiling that has since been weakened by the likes of Margaret Chase Smith, Shirley Chisholm and, yes, Hillary Clinton.
Food For Thought: Do you think the nomination of a woman is long overdue? Why do you think it took the US so long to have a female nominee?