Portrait of Victoria Woodhull

Voices—Tell us tonight.

Mrs. Woodhull—I have my own proper business to attend to tonight. I want to know why people congregate in this Convention and make me their president. Is it because I have shown any cowardice during the last years? Or is it because I have gone through the very depths of hell to give you freedom? I want to know. Is it because I have been a coward, or is it because I have braved the penitentiary and every other damnable thing that could be put up to hinder me giving you the truth? {Cheers.} Well, now, when I came out of my prison I came out of it a beggar. I appealed to the Spiritualists, to the reformers of the country, to send in their money that I might send you my paper. But did you do it? No; you left me to starve in the streets; you left my paper to die; you sent in a few paltry dollars, but not enough to meet the necessary payments. I knew my paper had to live, or I should assuredly be sent to Sing Sing. Hence, I went to the world’s people. I went to your bankers, presidents of railroads, gamblers, prostitutes, and got the money that has sent you the paper you have been reading, and I do not think that any of you are the worse for handling it. {Cheers.} I used whatever influence I had to get that money, and that’s my business, and none of yours; and if I devoted my body to my work and my soul to God, that is my business and not yours. I have gone before the world devoting heart and soul to the cause. I have been willing and still am willing to yield up my life, if need be, to further its interests. {Cheers.} All my mind; all my might; all my strength; all my faculties are engaged in this labor, and when any of them are demanded they are not withheld. It would be no glad thing for me to have to yield my life that the world may gain freedom. Jesus of Nazareth, whom Christians worship today as God, even he prayed that the drinking of such a cup might pass from him. And so do I. {Cheers.} But I would drink it if the spirits, whose servant I am, present it to my lips. They have entrusted me with a mission, and I have done and shall do everything and anything that is necessary to accomplish it. And more than this; I am proud to say that whatever that has been or may be, I am not, nor shall be ashamed to proclaim it to the world, standing side by side with my lover {cheers} who stands by me now, as he has stood for nine years, manfully holding up my hands and encouraging my weary, sometimes almost fainting heart when deserted by everybody else. {Cheers.} Hence I say, suppose I have been obliged to crucify my body in whatsoever way to fulfill my duty, what business is that of Mr. Cotton? I prostituted my body by speaking to you last night when I was scarcely able to stand alone. I shall do the same tonight, in order to advance a great truth to the world that shall prove its salvation. And you prostituted me by the failure to come to my support when I needed you. I have racked my brain, my body, my strength, my health, my all that this cause might live; aye, even that this Convention might meet under the favorable auspices under which it has met. {Cheers.} And now this man stands up to demand of me if I have sold my body to help this on, just as if there was no other prostitution except that of sexuality. {Cheers} Bah! such cant and from men.

I am ashamed of the Spiritualists and Reformers of the country who profess an interest in the cause, that they have left me all alone to prostitute myself in whatever way to maintain their interests. Did they stop to ask if I should have to crucify my body to obtain the needed means? {Cheers.} I doubt if one of you ever did, and yet I besought you earnestly all the time of my needs, and forgetting all this I am placed on the stool of confession by a man from Vineland {cheers}, who, if he has ever given a dollar to the cause, I don’t know it. But let me tell you quite a different story. Suppose I had not done what I have, let that be whatever it may, and that the WEEKLY had died and the Y. M. C. Assassination Association had suceeded in sending me to Sing Sing, where would have been your cause? Where this Convention today? Can anyone answer me that? Are there any of you, you here I mean, who would have come forward and put your bodies in the gap? If there are I hope they will now come forward and relieve me. My body has been crucified until I am almost unable to use it any more. I am weak, faint and want rest. Will you give it to me? If you will not, don’t put me before you as needing to confess anything that in your self-sanctified spirits you may conceive to be prostitution. . . .

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