Women For President- A Brief History

Hilary Clinton may very well be the first U.S. woman president, but these 5 women were fighting for that position beginning a century ago.

Victoria Woodhull
Year ran: 1872
Party: Equal Rights Party

Victoria ran for president nearly 50 years before women were allowed to vote in presidential elections. She became the first woman to seek the office when she announced her run in the New York Herald in 1870, stating “I…claim the right to speak for the unenfranchised women of the country, and believing as I do that the prejudices which still exist in the popular mind against women in public life will soon disappear, I now announce myself as candidate for the Presidency.” 

Victoria was known for her strong universal suffrage campaign, her belief in free love, being the first woman to start a newspaper and the first woman to start a Wall Street Brokerage. Victoria’s presidential run came to an end when she was arrested days before the election on obscenity charges for writing an article about an adulterous love affair between Henry Ward Beecher, a powerful minister. 

Belva Ann Lockwood
Year ran: 1884
Party: Equal Rights Party

When Belva was 23 her husband died of tuberculosis, at which point she decided to go back to school, something very usual for women at the time.  She graduated from law school in Washington, D.C. becoming one of the first female lawyers in the United States. After college Belva worked as a teacher and principal where she campaigned for equal pay for women in education. She supported world peace and was also active in working for women’s rights. 

In 1879, she successfully petitioned Congress to allow her to work before the Supreme Court. She as the first woman attorney to do so. Belva ran for President in 1884 and 1888. 

Senator Margaret Chase
Ran in 1964
Party: Republican

Margaret’s husband, Clyde Smith, served as a member of the House of Representatives for 4 years before he fell ill in 1940. He asked Margaret to run for his seat stating during a press release, “I know of no one else who has the full knowledge of my ideas and plans or is as well qualified as she is, to carry on these ideas and my unfinished work for my district". Margaret ran for his seat and won and was re-elected to three more terms. She went on to become the first woman elected to both the House and Senate and was the first woman to sail on a U.S. Navy ship during WWII, after being appointed to the House Naval Affairs Committee in 1943. 

She served 32 years in Washington, earning a reputation as a moderate republican who often broke ranks with her party. On January 27, 1964, Smith announced her candidacy for President of the United States, declaring "I have few illusions and no money, but I'm staying for the finish. When people keep telling you, you can't do a thing, you kind of like to try."

Shirley Chisholm
Ran in 1972
Party: Democratic

Shirley was a politician, author and educator. Running a day care center got her interested in politics and during this time she worked as a volunteer for white-dominated political clubs in Brooklyn where she formed the basis of her political career. 

In 1969 she cofounded the Congressional Black Caucus, an organization that set out to protect minority rights as well as the fundamentals of democracy. She is said to have staffed her office with only women. That same year she was also a founding member of the National Women's Political Caucus, an organization dedicated to training and supporting women who seek elected and appointed offices.

In 1968, she became the first African-American woman elected to Congress, where she served for 14 years. In 1972 she ran for the Democratic presidential nomination, making her the first major-party black candidate for President of the United States.

Jill Stein
Year ran: 2012
Party: Green

Jill is a physician who specializes in Internal Medicine. She became increasingly concerned about the connection between people's health and the quality of their local environment, which is where her work as an environmentalist began. Her environmental work has won her many awards, as well as many trips to jail, having been arrested numerous times in her career as an activist. 

Jill ran for president after two unsuccessful bids for the office of governor of Massachusetts. Her decision to run was summarized when she said, “We are all realizing that we, the people, have to take charge because the political parties that are serving the top 1% are not going to solve the problems that the rest of us face. We need people in Washington who will refuse to be bought by lobbyists and for whom change is not just a slogan.”

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