Portrait of Victoria Woodhull

As he closed, the Woodhull, with her eyes ablaze and her features working under constrained passion, rose and confronted him like a tigress whose lair had been intruded on. And then she castigated him in language not proper to print. He bore it meekly.

Chicago Tribune

. . . and the excitement culminated when a Mr. Cotton made the statement that Mrs. Woodhull had confided to him that she had prostituted herself to several leading men of New York City for the sake of power. Mrs. Woodhull awaited her time, and then, backed up by the Colonel, spoke for a long time with regard to the accusation, but carefully avoided anything like an explicit denial, which must have been very annoying to the Colonel.

A Spiritualist Newspaper

. . . Woodhull upon the rostrum before her admirers was charged with prostitution for profit by Cotton of New Jersey. Tennie, her sister, boasted of prostitution to carry on the Weekly while journeying to Chicago.

It being announced to some of Mrs. Woodhull's admirers, they called Tennie to account for it, and she with a brazen-faced impudence replied, "If you Spiritualists had done your duty we should not have to do so, but what are you going to do about it? How are you going to help yourselves?"

* * *

It will be seen that Mr. Cotton, who for many years has been a Baptist minister went in the charity of his great heart to the very verge of exculpating the Moses Woodhullites from censure, but still repudiated the idea that licentiousness was the acme of human attainment in morals and goodness. Like every other effort to put before the public a thought uncontaminated with the black pall of sensualism, his was voted down, solid, by delegates brought to Chicago for the very purpose of ruling out every thought of purity . . .They, by their President, Mrs. Woodhull, upon the platform, ridiculed virtue and tantalizingly told the men and women in the Convention that if they had any virtue, to bring it on and she would probe it and expose its rottenness! The cheering of her admirers was vociferous. It was openly boasted by Tennie Claflin, that the money to carry on the publishing of Woodhull & Claflin’s Weekly, was not procured by the voluntary subscriptions of the Spriritualist alone, whom she severely berated, but by prostitution!

Mr. Cotton of Vineland, charged Mrs. Woodhull with prostituting herself for gain. Mrs. Woodhull replied in substance, "You Spiritualists would not come forward, but left me to starve; and suppose I did go out among the bankers, railroad presidents and gamblers, and gave my body to man, and my soul to God, is it any of your business?"

Woodhull & Claflin’s Weekly (A lengthy excerpt)

Mr. Cotton—". . .As I understand Mrs. Woodhull said, in a conversation which I heard her have in the room, as well as introducing Moses Hull, that she used the term love for sexual embrace. Now, I believe that while we have one true love, we must of necessity be true to that true love; if we go outside of it for a new love for a day, to me that is promiscuity, and I do not know how to call it anything else. Now, she says, that ‘if Col. Blood should love you, speaking to Mrs. Hardy tonight"—speaking of sexual embrace and using the word love and it is with her consent that I tell you this—"I could love you the better because I love him." Now there I diverge, I cannot see it. . . Not believing it to be right to be a hypocrite, I think she ought to come out like Moses Hull and divulge the whole thing; and in connection with uncovering individuals from Butler down, she was going to tell you that she, not for love nor lust, but for power to carry on this glorious work, had prostituted herself sexually to do it. . . . There were loud cries for Mrs. Woodhull.

Mrs. Woodhull, on coming forward, was received with cheers. She said: Mr. Cotton has been coming to these things for some time, and I suppose he wants a reply. Not being able to make an impression by assailing the principles of social freedom, he now descends to assail the personality of the advocate. First of all, I want to know what it is he is trying to get at. Now, Mr. Cotton, will you please tell me? I want to fully understand you to know what you want me to do? What is it that you want me [to] explain? I believe I was talking in the room when you came in, and was saying something like that which you said. But what do you want?

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