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Matter of Principle: Victoria Woodhull

Uploaded by Kelly Almond on May 06, 2004

Victoria Claflin Woodhull was a lobbyist, businesswoman, writer, and investor who advocated women’s equality in status, work, home, and politics. She worked against the 19th century notions that daughters, mothers, and wives should be silent and submissive. She called for a vote and a voice in all matters of life and citizenship. She was a modern woman ahead of her time. She spoke frankly in the need for women to take control of their lives including their health and family planning. Victoria spoke with bold honesty of her controversial principles and did not mince words. She savagely criticized hypocrisies in society and government.
Victoria Claflin was the seventh born of Reuben “Buck” Claflin and Roxanna Hummel Claflin’s ten children, in Homer, Ohio on September 23, 1838. According to “The Terrible Siren” by Emanie Sachs Arling, Roxanne instilled in her children a deep sense of loyalty to family and a sense that they were special and different from other people. Roxanne was also deeply devoted to religion, reliant on the tent revivalism that was popular at the time. The fervor of those revivals must have been the only match in the intensity of the Claflin household (Arling 3-35).
Spiritual healing and communication with spirits, Victoria claimed to be directed by the spirit of Demosthenes. She married Calvin Woodhull at the age of fifteen. He was trained as a Doctor but was a troubled alcoholic. Woodhull traveled the country as she supported her first husband and her two children. She came to St. Louis as a Spiritualist magnetic healer and there she met the man who was to become her second husband, Col. James Harvey Blood, a Civil War Veteran (Horowitz 87).
The Free Love Doctrine that Victoria preached was introduced to her by her second husband Col. Blood and enforced by her association with Stephen Pearl Andrews when the family moved to New York. Andrews was a radical intellectual and had been involved with “Modern Times”, a free love community experiment (Horowitz 88).
Because of her reputation as a Spiritual healer she and her sister Tennie gained the audience of Cornelius Vanderbilt, whose efforts to contact his deceased mother and son advertised his belief in Spiritualism. The brokerage firm owned by Victoria Woodhull and her sister Tennessee Claflin was supported with advice and initial funding by Vanderbilt (Horowitz 92).
Victoria announced, in 1870, her intention to run for president in 1872 as...

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Uploaded by:   Kelly Almond

Date:   05/06/2004

Category:   American History

Length:   9 pages (2,026 words)

Views:   1875

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