March 9, 1872
If there had been anything wanting to show that the people in all directions are heartily sick of our present government, we have had it in the rush upon us of letters, from every direction, making inquiries as to the probabilities and possibilities of the coming convention, which, it is pretty generally understood, is to be a sort of common and spontaneous gathering of all kinds of reform, which find existing customs, forms and law standing in the way of the realization of their hopes.
The people generally begin to wake to the comprehension that they are living under a system of despotism instead of under a government such as is foreshadowed by the text upon which the constitution was founded and the government erected. The theory of individual freedom, they find, is so hedged in by the financial, commercial, and industrial systems imported from Great Britain, that sight of it is almost lost. The two are incompatible. They cannot exist together, since the last, in practice, deny the existence of the first in theory.
Laboring under the misapprehension that, because the theory of our government was the true one, the practice must, necessarily, be also true, we have gone on from bad to worse, until the government, instead of being the government of the people, as a whole, has become nothing more than a conspiracy of "office-holders," "money-lenders," land-grabber," rings," and "lobbies," against the laborer, the mechanic, and the farmer, by which the former, a contemptible minority, manage to appropriate all the wealth created by the latter, the great majority; and to luxuriate in it, while they only escape starvation and want in all its varied forms, struggling along from youth to age, in all the despair of poverty, and die amid its utmost squalor, wanting the meanest comforts of life.
And yet these conspirators seem to think that it is all right, all safe. They think, since they have the reins in their own hands, that nothing can divert them from their career of triumph. But a sad day awaits them unless they "hold up" long enough to at least listen to the complaints of the people over whom they are riding with such complacency. Mutterings low but sullen are already heard, which will burst into ungovernable fury at the very first opportunity. In this city lone there are now over fifty thousand people either entirely out of work or working at starvation prices, just to keep the souls and bodies of their families together. These people, when thus driven to desperation, begin first to question if such things can be right, next to realize that it is all wrong; and this leads to inquiry regarding the causes. They begin to see clearly that, by some unaccountable process, all for which they have labored all their lives is in the possession of a few capitalists, merchants, and landlords, who have never laid their hands to productive industry.
Any political reform which ignores this condition is not worthy to be begun. Not even the degradation of woman, in being compelled to submit to male dominations, is a question large enough to stir the people with an enthusiasm sufficient to rouse them to the dethronement of the existing conspiracy. It must be the concentration of both these wrongs, which cry out for redress, that will accomplish this. Nothing less than this can call away the supporters of General Grant. Thousands upon thousands are in the Republican ranks, not because they love it leaders, but because there is no other and better place for them to go. And besides these there are other thousands who have held aloof from politics, because they see its iniquities. All these will come out from their retreats and join a Human Rights Party. If those who are moving from the consolidation of all the opponents of present parties into on e grand party by the proposed convention, are wise, they will inaugurate a movement, which will sweep over this country like a tornado, and completely uproot every form of despotism, which now exists to the joy of the few, but to the sorrow of the many.
Ours is supposed to be a land of liberty and equality, and yet we have a despotism of public opinion which practically nullifies personal independence. It is well known that President Lincoln was a firm believer in modern Spiritualism and frequently consulted familiar spirits, the same was true of his lamented successor, but public opinion, Madam Grundy, said these things must be done in secret. The moral of all this is that they both lacked moral courage.
Latterly the President's wife, Mrs. Lincoln, would consult a familiar spirit, much after the manner of Saul, King of the Jews, but society compelled her to observe the utmost secrecy to avoid the anathemas of our Christian civilization and liberty But prying eyes and ears discovered her true name and purpose, and straightway the press which never pollutes itself with personal private affairs, gives the fact wings of lightning and speeds it to every nook and cranny, to every palace and log cabin in the land. All this will do good in the end; but it is not pleasant to reflect that the despotism of public opinion compels secrecy in laudable investigation, and then violates our privacy by proclaiming our personal matters to the whole world, and this is the justice of our Christian civilization and our theoretical equality and independence.
Victoria Woodhull T-Shirts, Bumper Stickers, Campaign Buttons, and Books
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