What a wonder. This year as a woman vies to become the first woman president of the United States, the first woman ever to seek this country's highest office was from just next door.
And what a wonder. The only monument in the United States to Victoria California Claflin Woodhull, who mounted a campaign to become the first woman president in 1872, 144 years ago, stands as part of the clock and bell tower on the west exterior wall of the Robbins Hunter Museum. Woodhull was born in Homer, Ohio, a small town less than 15 miles from Granville.
These distinctions will mark a celebration of Woodhull's life and work in this 2016 election year as the Museum prepares to open its doors for the season on April 1.
"Celebrating Victoria, The First Woman to Run for President," an exhibit that traces Victoria's life from poverty to wealthy Wall Street broker and presidential candidate, brings to light the feminist spirit and spunk that drove her to the top of political action in the days when feminism was largely equated with scandal.
Undaunted by the reality that women could not vote, although they could run for office, and that she was not old enough to legally become president, Woodhull traveled the country campaigning. Her eloquence, charisma and unconventional past made her famous. Audiences for her lectures numbered in the thousands.
Needless to say, she lost the election. In fact, on election day, Woodhull and her sister, Tennessee, "Tennie", sat in jail. They were arrested for mailing "obscene" material, which was an issue of their weekly newspaper that accused eminent preacher Henry Ward Beecher of adultery.
Among her noteworthy achievements, she was the first woman to address a Congressional committee, the House Judicial Committee, where she argued that women had already gained the right to vote based on the 14th and 15th amendments.
This information and more on her life and work will be on illustrated panels in the Ackerman Room of the Museum. The U.S. Constitution will be on display to check out the 14th and 15th amendments.
Becky Dungan, a program chair, who has conceptualized this exhibition, is pleased that in this particular election year, Victoria is front and center. "While several dozen books have been written about her life, (four in the past year) she remains virtually unknown," Dungan said. "Most of our visitors are surprised and then delighted to discover her and her accomplishments," she said. "The museum welcomes this opportunity to celebrate Victoria , controversial, even scandalous, while at the same time accomplished, eloquent and 100 years ahead of her time." The exhibition is multi-faceted, Dungan said. Period campaign music will play, and bunting and 37-star flags will serve to enhance the exhibition inside the museum. Her campaign platform and the newspaper article describing the dedication of a plaque in Homer, erected in 1988, will also be on display. And you may well see docents wearing Victoria t-shirts or buttons that say, "Ask me about Victoria at the Robbins Hunter Museum."
Much has been written and filmed about Woodhull's extraordinary life. Early biographies from the Museum's collection, including The Terrible Siren, published a year after her death in 1928, and more recent biographies, will be available for visitor examination. It's possible a film made locally about her will be shown.
And, of course, the clock tower, noteworthy on its own, will be a popular site for visitors as they stroll the grounds after viewing the exhibit. Period music will play as Victoria glides out of the grand clock on the hour.
See the calendar for speaker events. This is one exhibit not to be missed.