History Book

NICK EICHER, HOST: Next up on The World and Everything in It, the WORLD Radio History Book. Today, a speech that leads Germany and France to cooperate—plus a 17th century mathematician and astronomer gets an apology from the Catholic Church.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: But first, 146 years ago this week, a political first. A woman is nominated by her party for president of the United States. Here’s Paul Butler.  

PAUL BUTLER, REPORTER: On May 10th, 1872, women’s suffragette, publisher, and New York stock-broker Victoria Woodhull becomes the first woman to be nominated for president of the United States.

Woodhull announced her candidacy a year earlier, and the newly formed Equal Rights Party chose her as their candidate during their convention. Woodhull admitted that she never expected to win: re-enactor Georgia Swanson:

SWANSON: Well of course I know that I will not have people vote for me. That won’t happen! But a woman should have the right.

Audio from a 2010 Lakewood Ohio Public Library presentation posted on YouTube.

Woodhull opposed abortion, but advocated eugenics and forced sterilization. She believed in what she called “free-love” or that women should have the right to leave unbearable marriages. She also preached against society’s hypocrisy of looking the other way when married men had mistresses.

The day before the 1872 presidential election, Woodhull was imprisoned after her newspaper published a salacious story accusing well-known preacher Henry Ward Beecher of adultery.

It’s not known how many people voted for Victoria Woodhull, but it turns out that her presidential run was unconstitutional, not because she was a woman, but because she didn’t meet the age requirement. She was 10 months too young.

Next, May 9th, 1950. 


French foreign minister Robert Schuman presents his proposal for creating a shared oversight body to manage French and German steel production.


Schuman says: “The pooling of coal and steel production…provide…the…common foundations for economic development as a first step in the federation of Europe, and will change the destinies of those regions which have long been devoted to the manufacture of munitions of war.”


Schuman believed that if France and Germany set the example of cooperation, the rest of Western Europe would follow suit—and he was mostly right. “The Schuman Declaration” was the first step in creating what is now known as the European Union.

And finally, May 9th, 1983, 35 years ago this week, speaking before 200 scientists, Pope John Paul the 2nd publicly apologizes for the Church’s treatment of Galileo.

But as Catholic Apologist Robert Spitzer points out in this recent EWTN interview, the Galileo Affair is often misunderstood as a conflict over the heliocentric universe, when in fact, the church had already approved the veracity of the theory based on the work of Copernicus. Rather, the debate with Galileo was over the nature of evidence and his approach:

SPITZER: The issue comes down to this, there was one requirement, and its the same requirement we have today for the natural sciences—namely you have to have observational evidence for the theory to back it up….

But in 1979, Pope John Paul the 2nd declared that the church “may have been mistaken” in its criticism of the Italian astronomer, and he formed a church commission to study the case.

4 years later, in commemoration of the 350th anniversary of Galileo’s Dialogues On The Two Greatest Systems Of The World, John Paul calls for a renewed partnership between science and faith. He ends the speech by saying:

“Your task is noble and gigantic. God, Creator of all things, present in the immensity of the universe, as in each of our hearts, accompany you in your work and inspire your admirable task.” 

It takes the Catholic Church nearly 9 years before they officially reverse Galileo’s condemnation in 1992.

That’s this week’s WORLD Radio History Book, I’m Paul Butler.

(Photo/Wikipedia, Victoria Woodhull)

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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