Another Florence King Review

This one is of Other Powers: The Age of Suffrage, Spiritualism, and the Scandalous Victoria Woodhull by Barbara Goldsmith.

The title alone is enlightening, especially to those with any knowledge of Edwardian utopianism. The notion of women’s equality was born of the same era as seances, eugenics, Marxism, communes, theosophy, and the Cottingley fairies. And was adhered to by the same people. Among the things I learned from this review is that Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony were both spiritualists. Stanton’s “Declaration of Women’s Rights” was written on a table the Fox sisters had used for a seance.

By the way, I’ve linked to several Wikipedia articles for this post, but I have to say that it’s shaken what faith I had in La Wik considerably. They’re eager to paint Woodhull and Beecher in as positive a light as possible, because they supported currently popular causes such as feminism and abolition. (They were right on the latter, at least, I suppose on the “stopped clock” principle.) So they gloss over the promiscuity, bigamy, horse-killing, seances and megalomania.

Victoria Woodhull was an alleged psychic who befriended the two suffragette leaders and was introduced by them to the notorious preacher Henry Ward Beecher. Among other things, he preached that Christianity should change with the times to champion women’s rights. Not for him the stern God the Father of traditional Christianity; he offered a pabulumized, warm fuzzy version of Christianity and even referred to God as “Mother”. He also contended that it is good to sin because that gives God plenty of chances to be gracious and forgive you.

Beecher also supported temperance (Prohibition) and once raced a pair of thoroughbreds to death.

(In his defense, he did fiercely oppose slavery and even raised funds to buy slaves and then free them.)

Women loved him, naturally. He was dramatic, and women are suckers for charisma. An unimpressed male known as Mark Twain described his preaching style: “sawing his arms in the air, howling sarcasms this way and that, discharging rockets of poetry and exploding mines of eloquence, halting now and then to stamp his foot three times in succession to emphasize a point.” Being told that they were equal to their betters (men) and that utopia was attainable in such rabble-rousing fashion completely scattered the wits of his female parishoners. Beecher was able to use his congregation as his personal harem.

This was rather problematic, because one point on which Beecher was not quite so advanced was free love, which he denounced from the pulpit while enthusiastically practicing it in his private office.

Victoria Woodhull had gone from a little nutty to megalomaniacal. As she openly advocated both women’s suffrage and free love, she announced that the spirits with whom she communed had told her that she was destined to rule the world. She started publishing a weekly paper, which “became notorious for publishing controversial opinions on taboo topics (especially with regard to sex education and free love). The paper advocated, among other things, women’s suffrage, short skirts, spiritualism, free love, vegetarianism, and licensed prostitution. It’s commonly stated that the paper also advocated birth control, but some historians disagree. The paper is now known primarily for printing the first English version of Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto in its December 30, 1871 edition.” (Source.) In this paper, Woodhull hinted at Beecher’s loose morals, hoping to make him change his public stance on free love.

Woodhull was bigamously married to two men and also had at least one lover. This “free love” arrangement inevitably led to a domestic brawl which got them all arrested. In the aftermath of the scandal, she revealed all about Beecher’s serial adultery in her paper. Like today’s feminists, she had no problem with his infidelity or his compulsive need to seduce every woman he could – he couldn’t even be faithful to one mistress. “Every great man of Mr. Beecher’s type has had in the past and will ever have, the need for and the right to the loving manifestations of many women,” she wrote.

Feminism does tend to restore society to the precivilized harem arrangement, but rarely do feminists advocate this so openly!

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9 Responses to “Another Florence King Review”

  1. Virginia Says:

    Politicians will be politicians!

    And Beecher was a politician dressed up in preacher clothes.

    But it’s not all bad…

    Hey, did you know that two presidential mistresses played roles in suffragettes winning the vote for women?

    Most people are a bit in the dark about an incredibly important facet of our history — how women won the vote.

    Now finding out the sexy, shocking truth is as easy as opening your e-mail.

    “The Privilege of Voting” tells HOW the suffragettes won the vote.

    It is a new historical e-mail series that goes behind the scenes in the lives of eight well-known women from 1912 to 1920 to reveal the many exciting and surprising twists and turns that played into women finally winning the vote in England and America,

    The women depicted include two of the most beautiful and outspoken suffragettes — Alice Paul and Emmeline Pankhurst, along with Edith Wharton, Isadora Duncan, Alice Roosevelt, and two stunning presidential mistresses.

    But this is no boring history report! There are weddings and funerals, babies in peril, damsels in distress, war, peace, prohibition, broken hearts and lots of hot affairs on the rocky road to the ballot box.

    The best part is it’s ALL true!

    Presented via e-mail in a unique, sequential, interwoven short-story format called Coffeebreak Readers that makes discovering the delightful heroines of women’s suffrage fast and fun!

    Each action-packed e-mail episode takes about 10 minutes to read, so they are perfect to enjoy on coffeebreaks, or anytime.

    You can subscribe to receive free twice-weekly e-mails at:

    http://www.CoffeebreakReaders.com/tpovpage.html

  2. Virginia Says:

    Politicians will be politicians!

    And Beecher was a politician dressed up in preacher clothes.

    But it’s not all bad…

    Hey, did you know that two presidential mistresses played roles in suffragettes winning the vote for women?

    Most people are a bit in the dark about an incredibly important facet of our history — how women won the vote.

    Now finding out the sexy, shocking truth is as easy as opening your e-mail.

    “The Privilege of Voting” tells HOW the suffragettes won the vote.

    It is a new historical e-mail series that goes behind the scenes in the lives of eight well-known women from 1912 to 1920 to reveal the many exciting and surprising twists and turns that played into women finally winning the vote in England and America,

    The women depicted include two of the most beautiful and outspoken suffragettes — Alice Paul and Emmeline Pankhurst, along with Edith Wharton, Isadora Duncan, Alice Roosevelt, and two stunning presidential mistresses.

    But this is no boring history report! There are weddings and funerals, babies in peril, damsels in distress, war, peace, prohibition, broken hearts and lots of hot affairs on the rocky road to the ballot box.

    The best part is it’s ALL true!

    Presented via e-mail in a unique, sequential, interwoven short-story format called Coffeebreak Readers that makes discovering the delightful heroines of women’s suffrage fast and fun!

    Each action-packed e-mail episode takes about 10 minutes to read, so they are perfect to enjoy on coffeebreaks, or anytime.

    You can subscribe to receive free twice-weekly e-mails at:

    http://www.CoffeebreakReaders.com/tpovpage.html

  3. Virginia Says:

    Politicians will be politicians!

    And Beecher was a politician dressed up in preacher clothes.

    But it’s not all bad…

    Hey, did you know that two presidential mistresses played roles in suffragettes winning the vote for women?

    Most people are a bit in the dark about an incredibly important facet of our history — how women won the vote.

    Now finding out the sexy, shocking truth is as easy as opening your e-mail.

    “The Privilege of Voting” tells HOW the suffragettes won the vote.

    It is a new historical e-mail series that goes behind the scenes in the lives of eight well-known women from 1912 to 1920 to reveal the many exciting and surprising twists and turns that played into women finally winning the vote in England and America,

    The women depicted include two of the most beautiful and outspoken suffragettes — Alice Paul and Emmeline Pankhurst, along with Edith Wharton, Isadora Duncan, Alice Roosevelt, and two stunning presidential mistresses.

    But this is no boring history report! There are weddings and funerals, babies in peril, damsels in distress, war, peace, prohibition, broken hearts and lots of hot affairs on the rocky road to the ballot box.

    The best part is it’s ALL true!

    Presented via e-mail in a unique, sequential, interwoven short-story format called Coffeebreak Readers that makes discovering the delightful heroines of women’s suffrage fast and fun!

    Each action-packed e-mail episode takes about 10 minutes to read, so they are perfect to enjoy on coffeebreaks, or anytime.

    You can subscribe to receive free twice-weekly e-mails at:

    http://www.CoffeebreakReaders.com/tpovpage.html

  4. Mr Zopo Says:

    “Victoria Woodhull had gone from a little nutty to megalomaniacal”
    Just like every feminist

  5. Mr Zopo Says:

    “Victoria Woodhull had gone from a little nutty to megalomaniacal”
    Just like every feminist

  6. Mr Zopo Says:

    “Victoria Woodhull had gone from a little nutty to megalomaniacal”
    Just like every feminist

  7. Artfldgr Says:

    thought you might find this interesting too.

    rsparlourtricks.blogspot.com/2006_09_01_archive.html

    The Irrepressible Mrs. Woodhull

    ….Born on this day in 1838 in Homer, Ohio, Victoria grew up on the run; her father having been accused of insurance fraud, he brought his family along as he wandered throughout the Midwest posing as a faith healer. At 15, she married a Chicago physician of questionable character, Canning Woodhull, and they proceeded to move from coast to coast, Victoria supporting Canning's bad habits and her retarded son Byron with sewing jobs and as a spiritual healer in the mold of her huckster father.

    At 26 Victoria divorced Canning, and joined Tennessee to travel as faith healers and clairvoyants. They had brushes with the law, including being accused of running a whorehouse in Cincinnati, but generally they survived by their wits. Victoria remarried in 1866 to Col. James H. Blood, a Civil War vet who introduced her to socialism and free love, and 2 years later they moved to New York in answer to the suggestion of the spirit of Demosthenes, whom Victoria claimed appeared before her in a hotel room in Pittsburgh.

    In New York, Tennessee was asked to perform a healing massage on tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt. Soon, with Vanderbilt's assistance, the sisters were speculating successfully on Wall Street, opening their own brokerage house in 1870. Woodhull, Claflin & Co. was the first woman-owned enterprise of its kind, and was a moderate success. Around the same time, Woodhull became captivated by the utopian ideas of Stephen Pearl Andrews. Together with Blood and Tennessee, Woodhull and Andrews promoted their ideas in Woodhull and Claflin's Weekly, along with running translations of George Sand and the first American appearance of Marx and Engels' Communist Manifesto — this despite the fact that Woodhull was a Wall Street tycoon.

    Around the same time, Woodhull announced her candidacy for president, and began to give speeches which were an interesting melange of progressive politics and bold assertions of sexual independence for women. Benjamin F. Butler arranged to let Woodhull speak on women's suffrage before Congress, a move which caught Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton by surprise and caused them to invite her to speak at the National Woman Suffrage Association convention.

    Her participation in the convention allowed critics to conclude that women's suffrage would lead to pernicious free love and the breakdown of the family. Rather than quieting the critics, she continued to advance the cause of free love in bold terms, stating in an 1871 speech that she had "an inalienable, constitutional and natural right to love whom I may, to love as long or as short a period as I can, to change that love everyday." With support from Susan B. Anthony and the rest of the suffragettes drifting away, she convened her own Equal Rights party convention, which nominated her for president and African-American leader Frederick Douglass as vice president. Douglass ignored the honor, and like Anthony, supported Grant's re-election in 1872.

    do note that this was an era in which women claimed to be mega oppressed… yet you can find tons of examples like the wackaloon woodhull.

    though they were right, womens vote did lead to low morals, free sex, and the destruction of family.

    Soon afterward, her successes began to fall apart: with expenses mounting (even Canning Woodhull had joined the eclectic household in New York by this time), she and her extended family were evicted from her New York mansion, the brokerage house was in a shambles, and Woodhull was sued for her debts.

    Lashing out at those who she perceived were exercising their sinister indirect influence on her financial affairs and who would seek to co-opt her radical reform crusade with half-measures, she gave a speech accusing moderately reform-minded preacher Henry Ward Beecher, a former lover of Woodhull’s, of having an extramarital affair with another woman, and published an account of it in the Weekly. She was arrested on the eve of the election for peddling obscenity, and spent election day and a month more in a New York jail cell. Released on bail, she put out another issue of the Weekly; was reindicted; and went on the lam, speaking around the country about the Beecher affair. The obscenity charge was later dropped, and Beecher’s mistress published a full confession of the tale.

    Blood continued the Weekly until 1876, when he and Woodhull divorced; and the following year Woodhull moved to England (in part to avoid giving testimony in a dispute over Vanderbilt’s will). There she met and married a wealthy banker, John Martin, against the objections of Martin’s family (the story provided the basis for Henry James’ story, The Siege of London). In 1892, Woodhull again declared herself a presidential candidate, to considerably less attention, and visited the U.S. from time to time to speak on eugenics, women’s suffrage, public health reform and government assistance for science and the arts. She died on June 10, 1927 in London.

  8. Artfldgr Says:

    thought you might find this interesting too.

    rsparlourtricks.blogspot.com/2006_09_01_archive.html

    The Irrepressible Mrs. Woodhull

    ….Born on this day in 1838 in Homer, Ohio, Victoria grew up on the run; her father having been accused of insurance fraud, he brought his family along as he wandered throughout the Midwest posing as a faith healer. At 15, she married a Chicago physician of questionable character, Canning Woodhull, and they proceeded to move from coast to coast, Victoria supporting Canning's bad habits and her retarded son Byron with sewing jobs and as a spiritual healer in the mold of her huckster father.

    At 26 Victoria divorced Canning, and joined Tennessee to travel as faith healers and clairvoyants. They had brushes with the law, including being accused of running a whorehouse in Cincinnati, but generally they survived by their wits. Victoria remarried in 1866 to Col. James H. Blood, a Civil War vet who introduced her to socialism and free love, and 2 years later they moved to New York in answer to the suggestion of the spirit of Demosthenes, whom Victoria claimed appeared before her in a hotel room in Pittsburgh.

    In New York, Tennessee was asked to perform a healing massage on tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt. Soon, with Vanderbilt's assistance, the sisters were speculating successfully on Wall Street, opening their own brokerage house in 1870. Woodhull, Claflin & Co. was the first woman-owned enterprise of its kind, and was a moderate success. Around the same time, Woodhull became captivated by the utopian ideas of Stephen Pearl Andrews. Together with Blood and Tennessee, Woodhull and Andrews promoted their ideas in Woodhull and Claflin's Weekly, along with running translations of George Sand and the first American appearance of Marx and Engels' Communist Manifesto — this despite the fact that Woodhull was a Wall Street tycoon.

    Around the same time, Woodhull announced her candidacy for president, and began to give speeches which were an interesting melange of progressive politics and bold assertions of sexual independence for women. Benjamin F. Butler arranged to let Woodhull speak on women's suffrage before Congress, a move which caught Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton by surprise and caused them to invite her to speak at the National Woman Suffrage Association convention.

    Her participation in the convention allowed critics to conclude that women's suffrage would lead to pernicious free love and the breakdown of the family. Rather than quieting the critics, she continued to advance the cause of free love in bold terms, stating in an 1871 speech that she had "an inalienable, constitutional and natural right to love whom I may, to love as long or as short a period as I can, to change that love everyday." With support from Susan B. Anthony and the rest of the suffragettes drifting away, she convened her own Equal Rights party convention, which nominated her for president and African-American leader Frederick Douglass as vice president. Douglass ignored the honor, and like Anthony, supported Grant's re-election in 1872.

    do note that this was an era in which women claimed to be mega oppressed… yet you can find tons of examples like the wackaloon woodhull.

    though they were right, womens vote did lead to low morals, free sex, and the destruction of family.

    Soon afterward, her successes began to fall apart: with expenses mounting (even Canning Woodhull had joined the eclectic household in New York by this time), she and her extended family were evicted from her New York mansion, the brokerage house was in a shambles, and Woodhull was sued for her debts.

    Lashing out at those who she perceived were exercising their sinister indirect influence on her financial affairs and who would seek to co-opt her radical reform crusade with half-measures, she gave a speech accusing moderately reform-minded preacher Henry Ward Beecher, a former lover of Woodhull’s, of having an extramarital affair with another woman, and published an account of it in the Weekly. She was arrested on the eve of the election for peddling obscenity, and spent election day and a month more in a New York jail cell. Released on bail, she put out another issue of the Weekly; was reindicted; and went on the lam, speaking around the country about the Beecher affair. The obscenity charge was later dropped, and Beecher’s mistress published a full confession of the tale.

    Blood continued the Weekly until 1876, when he and Woodhull divorced; and the following year Woodhull moved to England (in part to avoid giving testimony in a dispute over Vanderbilt’s will). There she met and married a wealthy banker, John Martin, against the objections of Martin’s family (the story provided the basis for Henry James’ story, The Siege of London). In 1892, Woodhull again declared herself a presidential candidate, to considerably less attention, and visited the U.S. from time to time to speak on eugenics, women’s suffrage, public health reform and government assistance for science and the arts. She died on June 10, 1927 in London.

  9. Artfldgr Says:

    thought you might find this interesting too.

    rsparlourtricks.blogspot.com/2006_09_01_archive.html

    The Irrepressible Mrs. Woodhull

    ….Born on this day in 1838 in Homer, Ohio, Victoria grew up on the run; her father having been accused of insurance fraud, he brought his family along as he wandered throughout the Midwest posing as a faith healer. At 15, she married a Chicago physician of questionable character, Canning Woodhull, and they proceeded to move from coast to coast, Victoria supporting Canning's bad habits and her retarded son Byron with sewing jobs and as a spiritual healer in the mold of her huckster father.

    At 26 Victoria divorced Canning, and joined Tennessee to travel as faith healers and clairvoyants. They had brushes with the law, including being accused of running a whorehouse in Cincinnati, but generally they survived by their wits. Victoria remarried in 1866 to Col. James H. Blood, a Civil War vet who introduced her to socialism and free love, and 2 years later they moved to New York in answer to the suggestion of the spirit of Demosthenes, whom Victoria claimed appeared before her in a hotel room in Pittsburgh.

    In New York, Tennessee was asked to perform a healing massage on tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt. Soon, with Vanderbilt's assistance, the sisters were speculating successfully on Wall Street, opening their own brokerage house in 1870. Woodhull, Claflin & Co. was the first woman-owned enterprise of its kind, and was a moderate success. Around the same time, Woodhull became captivated by the utopian ideas of Stephen Pearl Andrews. Together with Blood and Tennessee, Woodhull and Andrews promoted their ideas in Woodhull and Claflin's Weekly, along with running translations of George Sand and the first American appearance of Marx and Engels' Communist Manifesto — this despite the fact that Woodhull was a Wall Street tycoon.

    Around the same time, Woodhull announced her candidacy for president, and began to give speeches which were an interesting melange of progressive politics and bold assertions of sexual independence for women. Benjamin F. Butler arranged to let Woodhull speak on women's suffrage before Congress, a move which caught Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton by surprise and caused them to invite her to speak at the National Woman Suffrage Association convention.

    Her participation in the convention allowed critics to conclude that women's suffrage would lead to pernicious free love and the breakdown of the family. Rather than quieting the critics, she continued to advance the cause of free love in bold terms, stating in an 1871 speech that she had "an inalienable, constitutional and natural right to love whom I may, to love as long or as short a period as I can, to change that love everyday." With support from Susan B. Anthony and the rest of the suffragettes drifting away, she convened her own Equal Rights party convention, which nominated her for president and African-American leader Frederick Douglass as vice president. Douglass ignored the honor, and like Anthony, supported Grant's re-election in 1872.

    do note that this was an era in which women claimed to be mega oppressed… yet you can find tons of examples like the wackaloon woodhull.

    though they were right, womens vote did lead to low morals, free sex, and the destruction of family.

    Soon afterward, her successes began to fall apart: with expenses mounting (even Canning Woodhull had joined the eclectic household in New York by this time), she and her extended family were evicted from her New York mansion, the brokerage house was in a shambles, and Woodhull was sued for her debts.

    Lashing out at those who she perceived were exercising their sinister indirect influence on her financial affairs and who would seek to co-opt her radical reform crusade with half-measures, she gave a speech accusing moderately reform-minded preacher Henry Ward Beecher, a former lover of Woodhull’s, of having an extramarital affair with another woman, and published an account of it in the Weekly. She was arrested on the eve of the election for peddling obscenity, and spent election day and a month more in a New York jail cell. Released on bail, she put out another issue of the Weekly; was reindicted; and went on the lam, speaking around the country about the Beecher affair. The obscenity charge was later dropped, and Beecher’s mistress published a full confession of the tale.

    Blood continued the Weekly until 1876, when he and Woodhull divorced; and the following year Woodhull moved to England (in part to avoid giving testimony in a dispute over Vanderbilt’s will). There she met and married a wealthy banker, John Martin, against the objections of Martin’s family (the story provided the basis for Henry James’ story, The Siege of London). In 1892, Woodhull again declared herself a presidential candidate, to considerably less attention, and visited the U.S. from time to time to speak on eugenics, women’s suffrage, public health reform and government assistance for science and the arts. She died on June 10, 1927 in London.

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