1872

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The First Female Presidential Candidate is NOT a Witch

She is also not a prostitute, not a man, and not a lesbian. Victoria Woodhull is a suffragette and despite any criticism she might receive in the modern day, she is a serious candidate. Given the obvious corruption of the U.S. Grant Administration and the inept campaign of the Democrat's candidate, Horace Greeley, just about anyone stands a chance at the presidency. Woodhull is a newspaper editor and successful stockbroker at a time when women are not allowed to trade in the stock exchange. Luckily for women, one is not required to use the stock exchange to exchange stocks, and she contracts with men who can make the trades for her where she is prohibited. Commodore Vanderbilt is one of her clients, and he has made millions following her advice, so she is a contender. Woodhull is running under the Equal Rights Party and they nominate Frederick Douglass (the popular author and ex-slave) as her vice-presidential running mate. This is news to him, but he doesn't disavow the nomination, and he is member of the electoral college for New York so it's official. Since newspapers are often used as political instruments, having Woodhull as a newspaper editor is not a problem, but a few days before the election, Federal marshals arrest her for publishing an obscene newspaper. Months later she is acquitted, but the damage is done. She will try for the presidential nomination again in 1884, but controversies surrounding her messy divorce will cause the suffragettes to distance themselves from her. [1]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Woodhull was not a witch. She was a medium. With so many dead after the War Between the States, surviving relatives were in despair, so there was a market for mediums who could contact the dead. Woodhull was also a hypnotist, so her work as a medium might be considered therapeutic. Nowadays, there is a popular TV show called Long Island Medium. I doubt it is real but she seems to think she is helping people. Fine. She is not asking me to participate, and lots of people pray to their dead relatives or dead saints. It is so common that the practice is usually ignored... unless you are a politician. Then if you drop to your knees and pray to God for strength you are labelled a nut. First Lady Nancy Reagan consulted her horoscope because of her concern for her husband's safety. It seemed a little foolish, but harmless. When Christine O'Donnell was running for the Senate a video of her younger self showed her declaring herself to be a witch. It seemed like a kid's joke to me, but the controversy overwhelmed her campaign so that she produced an ad beginning with "I am not a witch". ([Click Here]) Her denial did more damage to her campaign than if she had said, "Heck yeah! I'm a witch! Kiss my backside, you jerks!" The other controversy with Victoria Woodhull seems almost trivial. She was 34 years old. Her birthday fell a few days before inauguration so if she had won, she would have been 35 when she took the oath of office. At the time no one cared, but apparently modern historians care now. The issues for female candidates are not tougher... just different. At least she had no missing emails to worry about. [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]

Surprise! John Wilkes Booth Gets Married

And I didn't send a card. Since the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, a number of conspiracy theories have cropped up concerning the final arrangements for his assassin, John Wilkes Booth. He was supposedly killed in a shootout a few days later, but there was a witness who told federal officials that Booth was NOT in the barn before they started shooting it full of holes. The body they dragged out had the wrong hair color, and bore a strong resemblance to James W. Boyd, a Confederate soldier who disappeared around the same time. A quick investigation followed and the body was expertly identified as that of John Wilkes Booth. Then the body was dumped in the river so it would not become a rallying point. It was sort of like dumping Osama bin Laden's body in the ocean, only the public actually saw a body dumped in the river. Case closed. Right? Well, the body was never identified by his relatives. In fact, they were excluded from ever seeing the body. Testimony from the coroner's children years later, indicates that a lot of pressure was put on the doctors to identify the body of Booth as quickly as possible, probably to quell any controversy. But the controversy simply expanded. The only solid proof (if that is what you want to call it) occurs this year when someone in Tennessee named John St. Helen marries a woman named Louisa Payne. He admits to her that St. Helen is not his real name. He is really John Wilkes Booth. Louisa is horrified! But not by the fact that he is an evil assassin. She is horrified that she has married a man under a false name! She drags him back to the courthouse and makes him marry her again under his correct name, and that is how we know that Booth got away alive. [7]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Is any of this true? The marriage certificate exists. Whether it is really Booth or another man with the same name or simply John St. Helen pulling the wool over his new wife's eyes for the thrill of it, is anyone's guess. However, there is a means of determining part of the truth. There is a sample of Booth's DNA in the form of bones kept from the original autopsy. They are stored (but not displayed) at a museum. His brother lies in the grave. If the DNA of those two closely match, as they should, then John St. Helen is a fraud and all of this speculation is simple silliness. They still haven't checked, though, so the controversy rages on. There is speculation that Booth's body was mummified and placed on display at the circus. In fact a circus did claim they had his body, but it has long since disappeared. Maybe some day we will know for sure, but I'm fairly sure he is dead by now. Yeah. Fairly sure. [8]

In Other News

  • The UK now has a secret ballot. IT'S THE LAW! Before this time, factory owners would helpfully review their employee's ballot to make sure they were voting correctly. Now all they can do is check the bumper stickers on our cars. I brake for unicorns. [9] [10]
  • Yellowstone is dedicated as the first national park. The area spans the Montana and Wyoming territories. Over 2 million acres is set aside as a park for the enjoyment of the nation's citizens. But there is going to be a war with the Indians north of there, so don't pack up your RV just yet. [11]
  • Popular Science Magazine begins publication. They are currently reprinting articles from English journals from such distinguished scientists and philosophers as Charles Darwin and Herbert Spencer. I read a great article from 1872 on how schools are making our kids stupid. Ah... it never ends. [12]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1872, Wikipedia.

See Also

References

  1. Victoria Woodhull - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 16 September 2016. “In October 1876, Woodhull divorced her second husband, Colonel Blood. Less than a year later, exhausted and possibly depressed, she left to start a new life. When Commodore Vanderbilt died, his son William Henry Vanderbilt gave Victoria and Tennessee a large sum of money to leave the country and set up in England.”
  2. Long Island Medium - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 16 September 2016. “She responded in a statement: 'I respect and understand skeptics. I'm not trying to prove anything to anyone, that's not why I do what I do. I feel, and have been told by my clients, that my gift has really helped them, and that's all that matters to me.'”
  3. Jimmy Kimmel & Guillermo Get a Reading From the Long Island Medium. YouTube.com (2016). Retrieved on 16 September 2016. “Theresa Caputo is known as 'The Long Island Medium' and has a show on TLC where she communicates with the deceased. We invited her to come to L.A. to do a reading with Jimmy and Guillermo. Somehow, almost Jimmy’s whole family got involved.”
  4. "White House Confirms Reagans Follow Astrology, Up to a Point", The New York Times, May 4, 1988. Retrieved on 16 September 2016. “President Reagan and his wife, Nancy, are both deeply interested in astrology, the White House spokesman, Marlin Fitzwater, said today, and two former White House officials said Mrs. Reagan's concerns had influenced the scheduling of important events.” 
  5. Christine O'Donnell ad (I am not a witch). YouTube (2016). Retrieved on 16 September 2016.
  6. Alex Shrugged notes: Given that so many people were depressed after the war, it seems reasonable for people to do the best they can to help each other. There is a Bible reference confirming that it is possible to contact the dead although it is clearly forbidden. Nevertheless, King Saul uses a necromancer to contact the Prophet Samuel from beyond the grave. Thus, while it seems like a good opportunity for hucksters to take advantage of the helpless, there were no psychologists at the time. Hypnotism was considered scientific, and frankly it is used therapeutically today. So... it is anyone's guess what motivated Victoria Woodhull. Secondly, there were accusations of prostitution against her. That seemed liked a common accusation at the time for any uppity woman who would look a man in the eye. I discount that. Finally, she was an advocate of "free love" which meant something different in those days. It meant that she favored freedom to love and supported divorce, if love faded. She went through a divorce herself which became a scandal.
  7. Brad Meltzer. History Decoded: The 10 Greatest Conspiracies of All Time. Workman Publishing Company, Inc.. ISBN 9780761178651. “Louisa freaked out so much, she demanded that they go back to the courthouse and get remarried using Booth's real name. And according to Chitty, the Franklin County Courthouse marriage register clearly shows John W. Booth's signature, on February 24, 1872--seven years after the assassination.” 
  8. Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever. Thorndike Press. “Dr. Barnes removed the third, fourth, and fifth cervical vertebrae from Booth’s neck. These clearly showed the path of the bullet as it entered, then exited the body. The vertebrae are now housed at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, in the National Museum of Health and Medicine—although they are not on public display. Dr. Barnes then turned his completed autopsy over to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, who also took control of the photographs made of the corpse, and of Booth’s diary, which was handed to him by Lafayette C. Baker. Curiously, the photographs soon disappeared. And when Baker was later called upon to verify that Booth’s diary actually belonged to the killer, he was astonished to see that “eighteen leaves,” or pages, had been cut from the journal—allegedly by Secretary Stanton. Neither the photographs nor the missing pages have ever been found, casting more suspicion on Stanton’s possible role in a conspiracy. The secretary of war wished the Booth situation to be handled with as little public outcry as possible, and this meant forbidding a public funeral. On Stanton’s orders, Lafayette Baker staged a mock burial, wrapping the body in a horse blanket and publicly hurling it into the Potomac. However, this was just a ruse to conceal the body’s actual location.” 
  9. Ballot Act 1872 - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 15 September 2016. “Employers and land owners had been able to use their sway over employees and tenants to influence the vote, either by being present themselves or by sending representatives to check on the votes as they were being cast. Radicals, such as the Chartists, had long campaigned for this system to end with the introduction of a secret ballot.”
  10. Grun, Bernard. The Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events. Simon and Schuster, 434-435. 
  11. Yellowstone National Park - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 16 September 2016. “AN ACT to set apart a certain tract of land lying near the headwaters of the Yellowstone River as a public park. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the tract of land in the Territories of Montana and Wyoming ... is hereby reserved and withdrawn from settlement, occupancy, or sale under the laws of the United States, and dedicated and set apart as a public park or pleasuring ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people; and all persons who shall locate, or settle upon, or occupy the same or any part thereof, except as hereinafter provided, shall be considered trespassers and removed there from ... Approved March 1, 1872.”
  12. Popular Science - Google Books. books.google.com (2016). Retrieved on 16 September 2016. “Popular Science gives our readers the information and tools to improve their technology and their world. The core belief that Popular Science and our readers share: The future is going to be better, and science and technology are the driving forces that will help make it better.”

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