"THE FIRST WOMAN IN AMERICAN HISTORY TO SEEK THE PRESIDENCY": FIRST EDITION OF VICTORIA WOODHULL'S IMPORTANT VOLUME OF MAJOR WORKS, ORIGINS, TENDENCIES AND PRINCIPLES OF GOVERNMENT, 1871
WOODHULL, Victoria. The Origins, Tendencies and Principles of Government: Or, A Review of the Rise and Fall of Nations from Early Historic Time to the Present: With Special Considerations Regarding the Future of the United States as the Representative Government of the World. New York: Woodhull, Claflin, 1871. Octavo, original blind- and gilt-stamped burgundy cloth. $3800.
First edition of a pivotal collection of over ten key works in the history of woman's suffrage, most in book form for the first time, with Woodhull's bold 1870 declaration of her candidacy for the presidency and the Memorial she delivered before Congress, as well as the Address she delivered to a congressional committee and to the National Woman Suffrage Association, issued by her Woodhull Claflin publishing house, with engraved frontispiece, in original gilt-stamped cloth.
On April 2, 1870, when Woodhull's First Pronunciamento appeared in the New York Herald, it astonished the nation. There, 50 years before women gained the vote, Woodhull declared: "I now announce myself as candidate for the Presidency." With that, she became "the first woman in American history to seek the Presidency; in most people's eyes that made her a monster… Did Woodhull really believe that she had a chance to win? The answer is yes." As part of her campaign, she planned "a series of essays about politics and government that would later be published as a book, Origin, Tendencies and Principles of Government" (Meade, Free Woman).
That same year Woodhull and her sister, Tennesee ("Tennie") Claflin, "broke the gender barrier to gain a seat on the New York Stock exchange… In the fall of 1870 Woodhull went to Washington and set herself up as a lobbyist for women's rights," and the sisters also established their Woodhull and Claflin's Weekly. Their newspaper, deemed "the most spectacular advocate of suffrage in the period," also broke new ground by issuing "the first American printing of the English translation of Marx's Communist Manifesto. In January 1871, the year this was issued by their publishing house, Woodhull surmounted more barriers by becoming the first woman to address a House Committee of Congress. "Thrilled by what they heard, leaders of the National Woman Suffrage Association… had Woodhull repeat her Address to the woman's suffrage meeting" (Ware, Forgotten Heroes, 112-15).
Woodhull's flamboyance and notoriety led many to dismiss her signal importance to women's history. It took 20th-century feminist scholarship to highlight her key role "as a major player in the struggle for women's equality… Like many modern presidents, Woodhull… lent her name to the many letters to the editor, speeches and articles attributed to her… We will never know for certain who really wrote the lectures, speeches, letters and articles attributed to her… Most historians and biographers agree that the anarchist Stephen Pearl Andrews wrote the words to her famous lectures, with the help from others" (Frisken, Victoria Woodhull's Sexual Revolution, 10-13). This landmark collection contains seminal works from those extraordinary years, most in book form for the first time. Featured are the First Pronunciamento and Second Pronunciamento, the Memorial Woodhull presented to Congress in December 1870, petitioning for women's right to vote, and the January 1871 Address she delivered to the House Committee. Also included are Tendencies of Government (revised from articles appearing in the Herald from April to May 1870); Limits and Spheres of Government (revised from articles in the Herald from May to July 1870); Principles of Government; Papers on Labor and Capital; Papers on Finance and Commerce; Basis of Physical Life, and Tendencies and Prophecies of the Present Age (revised from an article in American Workman in 1869). Issued in burgundy cloth (this copy), green cloth, and brown cloth: no priority established.
Interior fresh with light foxing mainly to early leaves, mild rubbing, two small expert repairs to spine of bright gilt cloth. A handsome near-fine copy.