COPYRIGHT 1998 MARY SHEARER
Two "Queens of the Heart" linked by fame. One was the most famous woman in the world, the other was the most famous woman in America. Victoria Woodhull, the first woman to run for president of the United States in 1872, talked to the dead while she was living. Now the living are talking about Victoria, a friend of the American family of the late Diana, Princess of Wales.
Most devotees of Victoria, the namesake of Queen Victoria, know that she and Colonel Blood exposed the Beecher-Tilton sex scandal. Few know, though, that Frank Work, the great-great-grandfather of the Princess of Wales, was a frequent visitor to the home of Victoria and Colonel. During the Beecher-Tilton trial, the defense team of Rev. Henry Ward Beecher wanted to discredit Victoria and Colonel by proving they kept bad company. When the defense saw the actual list of frequenters of the Woodhull-Blood household, they sought to suppress the list. This list included President Grant's father as well as Frank Work, Diana's maternal great-great-grandfather.
There are a few remarkable parallels in the lives of these two "Queens of the Heart." Diana and Victoria were both hunted by the press and hounded mercilessly. Both were humanitarians who were wrongly accused of being mere publicity seekers. And both paid a great price for their fame.
Victoria wrote "I am charged with seeking notoriety, but who among you would accept any notoriety and pay a tithe of its cost to me?. . . I have been smeared all over with the most opprobrious epithets, and the vilest names, am stigmatized as a bawd and a blackmailer. Now, until you are ready to accept my notoriety, with its conditions--to suffer what I have suffered and am yet to suffer--do not dare to impugn my motives."
After divorcing her husband, Victoria fled the country because the press wouldn't leave her alone. In her new home in England, she denounced her ex-husband Col. Blood and denied that she ever believed in the "free love" she used to advocate.
Most people mistakenly associated free love with immorality and promiscuous behavior, and Victoria was stigmatized by that belief. Free love's true focus, though, was to allow men and women the pursuit of personal happiness. Love and happiness are what Diana reportedly was pursuing when she died, and Victoria would have supported her.
Victoria disapproved of the aristocratic tradition of pretending a marriage was happy when one or both parties had gone astray. She believed that marriage was a matter for the heart, not for the law. Victoria held the then unpopular view that marriage should be based solely on love. Victoria thought if a marriage ended spiritually, it was over, even if the law said it wasn't. Diana and the millions who supported her must have felt the same. When Diana's marriage "spiritually" ended, her marriage didn't stand a ghost of a chance. The view of love and marriage belonging to Victoria Woodhull, America's Queen of Hearts, had become accepted by the world.
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