In 1872, Victoria Woodhull, a former prostitute and spiritualist became the first woman to run for President of the United States. Former slave, Frederick Douglas ran as her vice president, though Douglas never campaigned with her. As a woman, she was unable to vote for the high office she sought but nothing in the law prevented her from being a candidate.
Not surprisingly, public opinion was against her. She lived in a Calvinist era when, according to writer, Jessa Crispi, “defying fathers and husbands meant defying God himself.” (“Madam Prescient,” by Jessa Crispin, The Baffler, vol. 32, pg. 99.) Worse, Calvinist teaching “Legitimized the subordinate position of women… ”and their “God-given inferiority.” (Ibid pg. 98.)
Rigidity of that sort drove Woodhull and other women to Spiritualism, including suffragettes Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. (Ibid pg. 100) Spiritualism held that as men and women had died, they were equals, a notion that appealed to earthbound women. As Crispin remarks, “While Spiritualism and suffragism were not one in the same, there was significant overlap, and both were training grounds for female leadership.” (Ibid pg. 100.)
Certainly, the God of Spiritualism was a kinder, gentler one than that of Calvinism. At a time when women mourned the death of many of their children, the Spiritual world gave solace. Life was not fixed and unchanging as the Calvinists would have it, but fluid. Given the existence of the afterlife, one cherished an expectation that further communication with a departed loved one was possible. Spiritualism taught hope and honored eternal love, sentiments appealing to women, and which may explain why so many of them became mediums. Calvinism, by contrast, offered women harsh images of inferiority and eternal damnation.
A form of Spiritualism exists today, Wicca. Wicca is an ancient religion dealing with white witchcraft, and it might surprise some that while Christianity is losing followers, Wicca is gaining them. (Ibid pg. 102) (Click)
If Hillary Clinton makes it to the highest office in the land, let us not underestimate “the force” that might have been with her.