Project Description

Victoria Woodhull: Newspaper editor

On the date of May 14, 1870, Victoria Woodhull and sister Tenessee Claflin used the money they had made from their brokerage to found a paper, Woodhull & Claflin’s Weekly, its primary purpose to support Victoria Claflin Woodhull for President of the United States, and which published for the next six years. Feminism was the Weekly’s primary interest, but it became notorious for publishing controversial opinions on taboo topics, advocating among other things sex education, free love, women’s suffrage, short skirts, spiritualism, vegetarianism, and licensed prostitution. Histories often state the paper advocated birth control, but some historians disagree. The paper is now known for printing the first English version of Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto in its December 30, 1871 edition, and the paper “argued the cause of labor with eloquence and skill. James Blood and Stephen Pearl Andrews wrote the majority of the articles, as well as other able contributors.

In 1872, the Weekly published a story that set off a national scandal and preoccupied the public for months. Henry Ward Beecher, a renowned preacher of Brooklyn’s Plymouth Church, had condemned Woodhull’s free love philosophy in his sermons. But a member of his church, Theodore Tilton, disclosed to Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a colleague of Woodhull, that his wife had confessed Beecher was committing adultery with her. Provoked by such hypocrisy, Woodhull decided to expose Beecher. He ended up standing trial in 1875, for adultery in a proceeding that proved to be one of the most sensational legal episodes of the era, holding the attention of hundreds of thousands of Americans. The trial ended with a hung jury.

George Francis Train once defended her. Other feminists of her time, including Susan B. Anthony, disagreed with her tactics in pushing for women’s equality. Some characterized her as opportunistic and unpredictable; in one notable incident, she had a run-in with Anthony during a meeting of the National Women’s Suffrage Association (NWSA). (The radical NWSA later merged with the conservative American Women’s Suffrage Association [AWSA] to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association.) Source: Wikipedia