Self-educated and raised in relative poverty, Victoria Woodhull developed a flair for public speaking. In the 1870s she appeared on podiums across the country often with thousands in the audience for a single lecture. Her dynamic life included such firsts as being one of the first woman stock brokers on Wall Street with her sister, Tennessee. She was one of the first women to speak before a congressional committee, and she was the first woman to be nominated for President of the United States. Her multi-faceted interests earned her a spot in the nation’s heart but also, for some, secured her as the standard bearer of dangerous ideas; she was called Mrs. Satan among a litany of slanders. Victoria flamboyantly confronted social mores that she deemed offensive and vocally advocated a reform of the institution of marriage, legalization of prostitution, sex education for women, women’s rights, and child welfare. Victoria Claflin Woodhull’s life is one of passion and intrigue, all driven by an unshakable desire to right the wrongs in society.
Victoria’s sister, Tennessee (or, as she called herself later, Tennie C.) Claflin was not one to be out done by her sister, and she shared a common passion for social change. A consummate business woman, Tennessee kept the sisters’ businesses afloat, and then in her later years struck out on her own in the name of suffrage for women both in the United States and in the United Kingdom. She became a passionate philanthropist, donating money and encouraging schools in Portugal, where she was the Viscountess of Montserrat, as well as helping to found the Alexandra House in London, a home and school for women artists. Tennessee had numerous causes in the United States; she contributed large amounts of money to the suffrage movement, was an advocate of education for both girls and boys, and took up where her sister left off by lecturing on themes as varied as the meaning of the Constitution to advocating for the care of illegitimate children. She was equally at home with the protocol of royalty and the rough-and-tumble world of the working class; Tennessee was a woman who always seemed to know what to say and how to say it, the result being that no one who met her ever forgot her.