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Woodhull, Victoria.

Reformation or Revolution, Which?


Woodhull Defends Herself
Woodhull, Victoria C. Reformation or Revolution, Which? Or, Behind the Political Scenes. A Speech Delivered in Cooper Institute, October 17, 1873, To An Audience of 4,000 people, Filling to its utmost capacity the Hall, to which hundreds found it impossible to gain admission. New York: Woodhull & Claflin, 1873.
8vo.; white printed wrappers, string-tied; front wrapper lightly used, occasionally faintly soiled; rest of pages bright. Iin a specially made brown cloth slipcase.
First and only edition of this 39-page record of Woodhull's ornate and convoluted talk about the state of the nation. Another in a series of Woodhull's controversial speeches; this one delivered at New York's Cooper Union. Woodhull champions democracy, defends her right as a woman to speak about politics, refers to her failed candidacy for the presidency ("Two years ago, when I was importuning Congress to do political justice for women, which was denied, I found that the wiser portion of Congress feared the country was drifting into revolution..." [p.5]), advocates the redistribution of wealth, argues against religious bigotry, and generally calls for an overhaul of society.
Among the most interesting sections are her passionate defense of "fallen" women:
...I want to ask every woman who...has secured all the necessities and comforts of life, how many women would frequent the haunts of vice in the Green streets of the world, if they were placed on an equality with you; and before you come to a conclusion, remember, if you had been situated in the same circumstances that have driven them there, and they in those that surrounded you, that it is more than probable you would have been where they are while they, perhaps, would have filled your places... (p.21)
and her poignant attempts to provide a political justification for her own very controversial history:
...If you reflect that I stand representative for the most radical and most opprobrious of doctrines, and that these very doctrines as I have promulgated them, have just aroused the old and seemingly dead lion of persecution into what, we may now hope, were the final agonies of a feeble death-struggle, it may not seem too much to claim that when I am tolerated everything is tolerated; and that the extension of courtesy, kindness, and fair play to me, anew, and after all that has past, is a solemn reaffirmation of a true Americanism... (p.37).

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