Reenacting the Election of 1872 (pictures included)

As close to meeting Victoria Woodhull as I will ever get!

As close to meeting Victoria Woodhull as I will ever get!

As some of you know, last weekend I had a the great privilege of participating in a re-enactment of the election of 1872 (the one Victoria Woodhull ran in) at the Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site in south St. Louis County. I’ve never done re-enactment before (I’ve been to Renfaires, but only as a spectator), so this was a totally new experience for me. I was stationed at table with a few other women under the banner “Votes for Women.” We stayed in character some of the time as campaigners for Victoria, but the rest of the time was spent answering questions about her and about my book. I even got to do an impromptu Q&A session after Victoria gave her speech on Sunday.

Much to our surprise, Rebecca Rau and her camera man showed up to film part of their documentary about Victoria, The Coming Woman, at the event. Rebecca and I have become friends on Twitter and Facebook and she saw me post about it, hopped on a plane and there she was! I think she got a lot of good footage from the actors playing Victoria, Horace Greeley, Frederick Douglass, Virginia Minor and others. I particularly enjoyed Frederick Douglass – he’s a man I need to learn more about – and Virginia Minor, whose speech was so moving. And of course, they recorded the rest of us. She even interviewed me on-camera, so you may be seeing me in the film!

The park estimates we had 750-800 people come through. Yes, I may have sold some books by talking with people and handing out postcards (I wasn’t allowed to sell on-site), but more important than that is that this was a huge opportunity for me to get Victoria’s name out there and educate people about her. Only a handful of those we talked to had ever heard about her. Spreading the word about this amazing woman is the whole reason why I wrote my book in the first place, so through this event, I know I achieved my goal of helping get her name in the historical record where it belongs!

Oh, and we held a mock election. The men at the booth harassed us females good-naturedly for trying to vote (remember, this was 1872 and women didn’t get the right to vote in the US until August 1920). Although it was all in good fun, it gave me a small sense of what it must have been like for the women like Victoria, Tennie, and Susan B. Anthony who really did try to vote and were turned away due to their sex, and in Susan’s case, even arrested. In the end, Victoria came in second to Grant, beating Greeley by a long shot. While I would have LOVED to have seen her elected, I realize now that wasn’t likely when the event was being held on the grounds of Grant’s former home.

Speaking of, I also got to tour the grounds, which include Grant’s home of White Haven, a barn, a chicken house and several other buildings used by slaves and animals. As a history lover and life-long St. Louisan, I’m ashamed to admit I didn’t know that this place existed until about a month ago. It was very interesting to see that such amazing history is right in my own back yard. I’ve been to nearby places like historic St. Charles, old town Florissant, downtown St. Louis and even Cahokia Mounds across the river in Illinois, but this place really struck a chord with me. Maybe it was because I could tie it to a specific small group of people and that made it more personal; maybe I’m just more aware now that I’m older and more educated through my research. Who knows. But I was fascinated by some of the stories told by the staff and on plaques in the houses. There may be a future novel there. But I need to get the other 20 or so written first!

If you want another perspective on the day, here’s a post written by one of the other participants. The comments are interesting as well.

And now, on to pictures, which is what you are really here for, right?

Grant's home, White Haven

Grant’s home, White Haven

Suffragists!

Suffragists!

 

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass

Horace Greeley

Horace Greeley

Frederick Dent (right) and a reporter

Frederick Dent (right) and a reporter

Virginia Minor

Virginia Minor

Join Me in Campaigning for Victoria Woodhull – A Reenactment of the Election of 1872

grant-and-greeley-final_1This weekend if you’re in St. Louis and looking for something to do, I encourage you to attend a free unique event: a reenactment of the election of 1872, in which Victoria Woodhull ran for President. The event takes place September 9-11 at the Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site in south St. Louis County. Here’s the website with all the details.

I will be there in period clothing “campaigning” for Victoria from noon – 7:30 p.m. on Saturday and noon to 4:30 p.m. on Sunday. The event includes a mock election, so make sure to cast your vote for Victoria! It would be really cool if we could get her to win 144 years later! Victoria will be speaking several times throughout the day, as will the other candidates.

And yes, I will post a few pictures after the event, for those who can’t make it.

I wish I could explain how important this event is to me. I fell in love with Victoria through my research and so short of time travel, this is as close to doing her justice as I will ever get. I’m looking forward to sharing the knowledge I gained from my research and hopefully getting her into office, even if only symbolically. I hope you can join me for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to live history!

The Suffrage Movement in America, pre-1900

National_Womens_Suffrage_Association-216x290As we close out National Women’s History Month, I thought I’d give a brief history of the suffrage movement, mostly focusing on the pre-1900s time period because that is when my book is set. I haven’t done research later than that and will leave it others to tell the fascinating stories of the women who finally got us the right to vote. This list is by no means all-inclusive and is only meant to capture the high points. (I have also left out things that my main character did because I still don’t want to say who she is, though there is a hint in this post. Hopefully within a month, I can.)

1846 – First public debate on women’s rights at Oberlin College.

1847 – First public address about women’s rights.

1848 – First convention on women’s rights held in Seneca Falls.

1850 – First national women’s rights convention.

The Revolution 1868-1872 Paper run by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

The Revolution 1868-1872 Paper run by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

1860 – Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton formed the National Woman Suffrage Association. They were the more radical arm of the suffrage movement. Their group opposed the 15th Amendment and called for a Federal agreement for women suffrage. They believed that the enfranchisement of black and immigrant men would make it more difficult for women to be given the vote. They also believed the educated shouldn’t have to submit to slaves to ask to vote (hence, their opposition to the 15th Amendment). They also believed that divorce was justified in some cases, which set them at odds with their more conservative women’s rights peers.

Lucy Stone, who didn’t oppose enfranchisement of freedmen but still wanted universal suffrage, founded the American Womans Suffrage Association, supporting the 15th Amendment and working for women’s suffrage. They endorsed suffrage state by state, and were more conservative than the National Woman Suffrage Association.

1866 – Congress passed the 14th Amendment, introducing the word “male” into the Constitution as a qualification for voting.

1868 – The 200+ women of the spiritualist town of Vineland, New Jersey, cast their votes in a separate box and tried to get them counted among the men’s, an event they repeated for several years.

1870 – Fifteenth Amendment passed, giving black men the right to vote.

1875 –  Virginia Minor took women’s suffrage to the Supreme Court in Minor V. Happerstatt, arguing that the Constitution already gave women the right to vote by declaring them citizens and giving all citizens the right to vote. The Court said citizenship did not imply the right to vote, but that the power was left to the states unless the federal government could be persuaded to amend the Constitution.

1880 –The National Woman Suffrage Association realized the state by state approach was probably best and focused on that, rather than Federal reform to get women the right to vote.

1890 – The National Woman Suffrage Association and American Womans Suffrage Association reunited as the National American Woman Sufferage Association

1920 – Women finally get the right to vote. (August 18)

Sources:
Gabriel, Mary. Notorious Victoria.
Wheeler, Marjorie Spruill Wheeler, ed. One Woman, One Vote: Rediscovering the Woman Suffrage Movement.

Do you have thoughts or questions about the early suffrage movement in America? It’s not my strongest subject, but I will definitely try to get answers.