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Selected Writings of Victoria Woodhull

Suffrage, Free Love, and Eugenics

Victoria C. Woodhull, Edited and with an introduction by Cari M. Carpenter

Publication Year: 2010

Suffragist, lecturer, eugenicist, businesswoman, free lover, and the first woman to run for president of the United States, Victoria C. Woodhull (1838–1927) has been all but forgotten as a leading nineteenth-century feminist writer and radical. Selected Writings of Victoria Woodhull is the first multigenre, multisubject collection of her materials, giving contemporary audiences a glimpse into the radical views of this nineteenth-century woman who advocated free love between consensual adults and who was labeled “Mrs. Satan” by cartoonist Thomas Nast. Woodhull’s texts reveal the multiple conflicting aspects of this influential woman, who has been portrayed in the past as either a disreputable figure or a brave pioneer. This collection of letters, speeches, essays, and articles elucidate some of the lesser-known movements and ideas of the nineteenth century. It also highlights, through Woodhull’s correspondence with fellow suffragist Lucretia Mott, tensions within the suffragist movement and demonstrates the changing political atmosphere and role of women in business and politics in the late nineteenth century. With a comprehensive introduction contextualizing Woodhull’s most important writing, this collection provides a clear lens through which to view late nineteenth-century suffragism, labor reform, reproductive rights, sexual politics, and spiritualism.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press

Title Page

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Copyright Page

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Table of Contents

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pp. v-vii

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pp. ix-x

Just as women’s suffrage was not won by any single individual, this project owes its completion to the efforts of many people. First and foremost, I credit Sharon Harris’s enthusiasm for the book, and her long-standing commitment to recovering the work of nineteenth-century American women writers. My colleagues at West Virginia University have assisted ...

Note on the Text

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pp. x

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pp. xi-xliii

To the extent that anyone’s life reflects the time in which she lives, Victoria Clafl in Woodhull embodied hers. Born shortly after Samuel Morse developed the electric telegraph in the United States, she died not long after promising five thousand dollars to the first person to fly across the Atlantic...

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Chapter One: The Woodhull Manifesto

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pp. 1-4

The disorganized condition of parties in the United States at the present time affords a favourable opportunity for a review of the political situation and for comment on the issues which are likely to come up for settlement in the Presidential election in 1872. As I happen to be the...

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Chapter Two: Killing No Murder

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pp. 5-6

A man in Brooklyn . . . has been killing his wife. The occurrence is so commonplace—it happens every week in Brooklyn, or Boston or some other good place—that it is hardly worth mentioning as news. But we should like it better understood that when a man is insane, or when a man is drunk, the law holds him harmless...

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Chapter Three: A Page of American History: Constitution of the United States of the World

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pp. 7-20

We, the people of the United States—a National Union—and of the several States as its component parts, proceeding upon the Natural Right inherent in humanity, and in order to secure a perfect and enduring Union; to establish equality as a birth-right; to administer common...

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Chapter Four: The Memorial of Victoria C. Woodhull

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pp. 21-22

That she was born in the State of Ohio, and is above the age of twenty-one years; that she has resided in the State of New York during the past three years; that she is still a resident thereof, and that she is a citizen of the United States, as declared by the XIV Article of Amendments...

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Chapter Five: Constitutional Equality

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pp. 23-28

The undersigned, Victoria C. Woodhull, having most respectfully memorialized Congress for the passage of such laws as in its wisdom shall seem necessary and proper to carry into effect the rights vested by the Constitution of the United States in the citizens to vote, without...

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Chapter Six: The New Rebellion: The Great Secession Speech of Victoria C. Woodhull

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pp. 29-36

Since this is not a convention for the consideration of general political questions, I am not certain that I have any thing to say which will prove of interest or profit to you. But with your permission I will endeavor to state the position which the movement for political equality now...

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Chapter Seven: My Dear Mrs. Bladen

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pp. 37-39

My Dear Mrs. Bladen, I assure you I rec’d your letter with very much satisfaction. Placed as I have been before the world maligned by those whom I could not defend myself against I appreciate the confidence which a very large circle of friends have reposed in me...

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Chapter Eight: Correspondence between the Victoria League and Victoria C. Woodhull: The First Candidate for the Next Presidency

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pp. 40-49

Mrs. Victoria C. Woodhull: Madam—A number of your fellow-citizens, both men and women, have formed themselves into a working committee, borrowing its title from your name, and calling itself the Victoria League. Our object is to form a new national political organization...

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Chapter Nine: My Dear Mrs. Mott

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pp. 50

My dear Mrs. Mott I scarcely know how to tell you how much I bless your dear self for the nobleness kindness & love you have shown to me. Whatever those who do not know me may say, I feel I may say to you that I never will prove unworthy of your esteem...

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Chapter Ten: “And the Truth Shall Make You Free”: A Speech on the Principles of Social Freedom

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pp. 51-65

It can now be asked: What is the legitimate sequence of Social Freedom? To which I unhesitatingly reply: Free Love, or freedom of the affections. “And are you a Free Lover?” is the almost incredulous query. I repeat a frequent reply: “I am; and I can honestly, in the fulness...

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Chapter Eleven: A Speech on the Impending Revolution

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pp. 66-77

Now, individual freedom in its true sense means just the same thing for the people that freedom for the air and water means to them. It means freedom to obey the natural condition of the individual, modified only by the various external forces which are brought to bear upon, and which induce action in...

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Chapter Twelve: The Correspondence of the Equal Rights Party

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pp. 78-89

Victoria C. Woodhull—Dear Madam: The National Convention of the Equal Rights Party who recently assembled in Apollo Hall in this city, has instructed the undersigned officers of the Convention to inform you that you have been nominated by acclamation as its candidate...

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Chapter Thirteen: Speech of Victoria C. Woodhull

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pp. 90-97

It is an unusual—I may, perhaps, say, an unprecedented—thing for a person bearing a nomination for the highest office in the gift of the people, to appear before them as an advocate of the cause represented by such nomination. But the movement which the Equal Rights party...

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Chapter Fourteen: The Beecher-Tilton Scandal Case

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pp. 98-124

I propose, as the commencement of a series of aggressive moral warfare on the social question, to begin in this article with ventilating one of the most stupendous scandals which has ever occurred in any community. I refer to that which has been whispered broadcast for the last two or three years through...

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Chapter Fifteen: The Naked Truth;or, the Situation Reviewed!

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pp. 125-146

My Friends and Fellow-Citizens: I come into your presence from a cell in the American Bastille,1 to which I was consigned by the cowardly servility of the age. I am still held under heavy bonds to return to that cell, or to meet my trial in a United States Court...

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Chapter Sixteen: Dear Lucretia Mott

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pp. 147-148

Dear Lucretia Mott You know very well that I seldom seek personally, the favor or disfavor of any person; and that I care little for any one[’]s good opinion, any further than it may further advance the interests of the cause I have espoused; and that I have learned patiently to bear the ill-favor of most persons, by long and continuous experiences...

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Chapter Seventeen: Reformation or Revolution, Which? or, Behind the Political Scenes

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pp. 149-165

It may appear presumptuous, perhaps ridiculous, for a woman to talk to an audience composed largely of men, about politics and government. Men have had the management of these questions so long, it ought at least to be presumed that what they do not know is not worth talking about. I have listened attentively to speeches...

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Chapter Eighteen: The Spirit World: A Highly Interesting Communication from Mrs. Victoria C. Woodhull

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pp. 166-171

During the last quarter of a century the doctrines of spiritualism have made the most wonderful progress. Never in the history of religious evolution was there anything to compare with it. Having, as it is generally conceded, made its advent in the tiny raps at Hydesville, N.Y., more commonly known as the Rochester Knockings...

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Chapter Nineteen The Elixir of Life;or, Why Do We Die? An Oration

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pp. 172-197

I appear before you tonight to speak of a subject which, more than any other, ought to command the attention of the enlightened world; but which, more than any other, receives the anathemas of its professed representatives—the so-called Christians—because, forsooth, to discuss it, is to attack...

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Chapter Twenty: The Scare-Crows of Sexual Slavery

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pp. 198-211

My Brothers and Sisters.— I am going to tell you some plain truths to-night. I know I shall not please all your ears. I value the good opinion of you all, but I value the truth more, and if to gain the former I must withhold one iota of the latter I shall fail in securing it. Your good opinion I crave, for I feel that...

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Chapter Twenty-One: Tried as by Fire; or, the True and the False, Socially

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pp. 212-260

For what purpose has this audience assembled; and what does it expect of me? Consider this question well now, since I propose to perform my duty regardless alike of approval or disapproval. In this duty you may listen to speech, such as, perhaps, you never heard from a public platform before...

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Chapter Twenty-Two: The Garden of Eden; or, Paradise Lost and Found

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pp. 261-272

People talk of purity without the least conception of the real meaning of the term. They imagine those are pure who restrict themselves to commerce sanctioned by the law, and when not under law, abstain altogether. Now, this is not the test of natural virtue—you may call it legal virtue if you like...

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Chapter Twenty-Three: Stirpiculture; or, the Scientific Propagation of the Human Race

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pp. 273-283

Sociology may be compared to the construction of a building: the myriads of poor are the foundation; the rest of the structure corresponds to the different grades of society. The last could not exist without the first named. It is the struggling masses who are the foundation; and if the foundation be rotten or insecure, the rest of the structure...

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Chapter Twenty-Four: The Rapid Multiplication of the Unfit

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pp. 284-294

There are often greater differences between individuals of the same race than between individuals of different races. Some are more richly endowed with more highly evolved nervous systems. If we wish to understand the basis of a superior faculty, we study how the nervous system of the individual...

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Chapter Twenty-Five: I Am the Daughter of Time

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pp. 295-298

I regret having to inflict on my friends any account of the sorrow and anxiety I am passing through, owing to the duplicity and treachery of those who should have stood fast by me. I need not say how deeply humiliating to me is the course of action I am forced to take, both privately and publicly....

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Chapter Twenty-Six: Woman Suffrage in the United States

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pp. 299-304

The cause which is bringing woman suffrage in America to the front with a rush is the forthcoming Presidential election, and more particularly the fact that the women of the State of Colorado will be permitted by Colorado to vote for the Presidential electors of that State.1 Thus, for the first time in the history of the United States...


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pp. 305-319


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pp. 321-323


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pp. 325-327

E-ISBN-13: 9780803229952
E-ISBN-10: 080322995X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780803216471
Print-ISBN-10: 0803216475

Page Count: 382
Illustrations: 2 photographs
Publication Year: 2010

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • United States -- Social conditions -- 1865-1918.
  • Women -- Suffrage -- United States.
  • Woodhull, Victoria C. (Victoria Claflin), 1838-1927.
  • Women's rights -- United States -- History -- 19th century.
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