Imagining a Twitter War Between Victoria Woodhull and Catharine Beecher

In 2016 we’ve seen Twitter wars between the two major political candidates for president of the United States, one of whom is the first woman running for president on a major party ticket. But she’s not the first woman to ever run for president in the United States. That honor goes to Victoria Woodhull, who ran back in 1872, 48 years before women got the right to vote in the US.

Not long ago, I got bored and imagined what a similar Twitter war may have looked like if such technology existed in 1872. Though Victoria and Catharine Beecher fought over many topics, one of the most bitter recounted in contentious letters swapped between the two and in conversations recalled in biographies of Victoria, was about the Victoria’s espousal of Free Love – the idea that the government shouldn’t have the right to say when marriage begins or ends – and the hypocrisy Rev. Henry Ward Beecher in preaching against adultery while his mistresses sat in the pews.

Here’s how that early Twitter war may have played out, with a bit of a modern twist. (Many of the words in the last four tweets are from an actual fight between the two women.)


4 thoughts on “Imagining a Twitter War Between Victoria Woodhull and Catharine Beecher

  1. What a wonderful, creative idea for a post, and I love the Twitter screen shot. I’m a bit skeptical these women would have tweeted so publicly in their day but if they lived today I suppose they wouldn’t have batted an eye about it. Did Harriet Beecher Stowe ever get into the battle too?

    • Thanks, Tyler. Yes, Harriet was involved. Many people speculate a character named Audacia Dangereyes in Harriet’s book My Wife and I, was a veiled insult of Victoria. According to The Guardian, “When Audacia runs for president, the female protagonist applauds her father’s assessment of her:

      ‘No woman that was not willing to be dragged through every kennel, and slopped into every dirty pail of water like an old mop, would ever consent to run as a candidate … and what sort of a brazen tramp of a woman would it be that could stand it …? Would it be any kind of woman we should want to see at the head of our government?'”

      Harriet also publicly called Victoria a “vile jailbird” and an “impudent witch.” It’s this kind of public name-calling and outright rudeness that makes me think these ladies would totally take to social media. Who knows…

      PS – I created this post using a Photoshop template you can download from the web. It takes a lot of time to manipulate, though.

      • Thanks for the extra information. I am surprised. I would have thought Harriet much more ladylike in her comments. Now, since Harriet lived next door to Mark Twain, I wonder what he thought of her. I loved the Facebook post today also and shared it with several friends!

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