Ever since I first heard of Victoria Woodhull about a year ago, I’ve been meaning to read the weekly newspaper that she put out with her sister, Tennessee Claflin, from 1870 to 1877. I found a library that claimed to have the complete collection in microform, so I made my way over there this week.
Unfortunately, they only had three of the 7-8 years of issues. I also, rather naively, though that the microform would be in good enough shape to apply OCR once I digitized it. I have yet to find an OCR tool that recognizes any words at all from these files.
Although I had hoped to scan, digitize, and post the entirety of the collection, I was only able to copy five full issues. The poor quality of the microform meant I had to scan and re-scan the individual pages, and even then some pages are only marginally readable. At a certain point I switched to skimming, and made copies of nine excerpts of varying sizes.
Still, what I accomplished was better than nothing. I’m throwing what I’ve got up on github – anyone who wants to can upload copies of additional issues, try their hand at more sophisticated OCR techniques, or do some transcription. I plan on adding to the repository over time.
In the mean time, here are some pieces that I’ve transcribed.
In the May 23rd, 1874 issue, from an excerpt titled ‘The Financial Problem’:
But what, at bottom, is really the underlying question involved in the present controversy? We hear a great deal said and a great deal written about the “well known” and “well established principles of finance.” We deny that there are any principles involved in any part of the financial question as it is now being discussed. The questions that are agitated are purely matters of policy. There is no principle in the proposition that the gold dollar is the true monetary standard. It is, on the contrary, the most arbitrary assumption possible to think of, having no conceivable basis in principle. It is a financial dogma as unsupported by any natural reason of fact as the now long since exploded dogma of theology. And it was invented for the same purposes that these dogmas were instituted for – to enslave the masses of the people, and it has succeeded industrially even more completely than they ever did religiously.
A short note, titled ‘What is a free paper?’, from April 25th, 1874:
There seems to be a queer idea among a queer set of people as to what constitutes a free paper. This class imagines that is can send in manuscript enough every week to fill two papers, and if it is not published, then the paper loses its character of freedom. It also pretends to think it can write articles fillwed with personal abuse, having no relation whatever to principle, but merely a vent of personal spleen, and if they are not inserted, then the freedom of the paper falls. We publish such an article this week, in order to illustrate what we mean; we refer to the communication on page 6 relative to Spiritual matters in Springfield, Mass. In the article to which this pretends to be a reply, there wasn’t a line to warrant the personal language of this. We utterly deprecate all such discussion, and permit this to be published to give formal notice to all whom it may concern, that from this time hence, we shall refuse to permit such articles to appear in the WEEKLY. This constitutes no part of the meaning of a free paper as understood by us.
This relates specifically and only to the publication of articles which principles, ideas and methods are discussed. Such articles will always be regarded as entitled to publication, but we cannot promise to insert everybody’s writings. From what we receive we must select such a variety as will, in our judgment, conduce most to the advance of reform, and from such as are treated in the most concise and forcible manner. Others may pretend to know more about our motives in making selections than we do, but until we are convinced that they do, we shall continue to act as heretofore, even if there must be another paper started to accomodate their injured dignity and immense importance. It’s our opinion that a soldier who will attempt to blow up the arsenal because his plan of conducting the campaign is ignored, is a traitor at heart to the cause.
And finally, from a September 27th, 1873 article called ‘The Scare-crows of Sexual Slavery’:
A single question will, however, show the absurdity of the theory of ownership. If parents own their children, how does it come that they ever lose their title, as they do at adult age; or again, and still more forcibly, if the title of children is in their parents, how is it that society, by its laws, claims them when, before adult age, the commit some crime, or still again, to whom is this ownership transferred when the parents die, and again, how is it that society compels the education of children? if they belong to their parents, what right has society to meddle? Answer these and then say if you can that children do not belong to society.
It is well known that, as civilization progresses and education becomes more a question of public interest, society demands more and more the conduct of the instruction of children. Public schools are now imperative, where, but a hundred years ago, there was no such system. Compulsory education is already adopted in some States and is being seriously considered as a national measure. It is but one step beyond compulsory education to the complete charge of children. If society have the right to say how and how much a child shall be educated mentally, it certainly has the right, also, to say what the other processes of education shall be.
Indeed, it is more than a right. It is a duty that society owes to those whom it is to make amenable to its regulations, that they shall have the best possible preparation to assume the insticts and the responsibilities of citizenship and equals, and still more a duty, that all children should become citizens, having received equal opportunities of preparation, so that no man, by his superior culture, shall be able to enslave others of less acquirements, either industrially, intellectually, or in any other manner whatever. Who shall dare say, if all children should be reared according to the theory of M Godin’s Industrial Palace, at Guise, France, that they would not be better men and woman than those who have been reared under our present theory of parental ownership?
What will become of the children? Again, what does become of them? One half of all children cut off by death before the age of five years – a commentary on the pretended anxiety for children that seems more like a horrible tragedy. Think of it, mothers! fathers! reformers! One half of all children dying before they reach five years of age – victims of our present social system, f the prevailing ignorance of the science of sexuality and the needs of the houng, and of the theory of parental ownership! The world cannot afford this terrible loss. When a ship founders at sea, with the loss of a few hundred lives, the whole country is aroused over the horror, but it sleeps quietly over the fact double that number of children – babes, almost – fall victim daily to the fell destroyers, ignorance and superstition and false social customs.