Woodhull & Claflin’s Weekly, September

General notices, and reporting on Conventions, including one in Vineland, and events at the annual convention of the American Association of Spiritualists in Troy, New York.  Also, a reminiscence about the town of Vineland.

The American Association of Spiritualists.

The eighth National Convention will met in Troy, N. Y., on Tuesday, the 12th day of September, at 10 o’clock in the morning, and continue in session three days.

Each active local society, and each Progressive Lyceum of any State, Territory or Province, which has no General Association, shall be entitled to one delegate for each fractional fifty members.

These Associations and Lyceums are respectfully invited to appoint delegates to attend this meeting and participate in the proceedings thereof.

Mrs. H. F. M. Brown, President,
137 ½ Madison street, Chicago, Ill.

H. T. Child, M. D., Secretary,
634 Race street, Philadelphia, Pa.


The Spiritualists, Friends of Progress, of Humanity, and of equal and exact justice to high and low, rich and poor, male and female, have decided to hold a two days’ Convention in their hall and grove at Vineland, N. J., on Saturday and Sunday, the 9th and 10th of September, 1871.

The first day will be devoted to the question of “equal and exact justice to all,” with special reference to the subject of suffrage.  Some of the most renowned speakers, outside of the spiritual ranks, as Lucretia Mott, Lucy Stone, H. B. Blackwell, T. W. Higginson, Julia Ward Howe, Mary A. Livermore and others are expected to be present and join in the Convention.

The second day will be devoted to Spiritualism and the Children’s Progressive Lyceum.  Mrs. Woodhull, Colonel Blood and Thomas Gale Forster have agreed to attend, and an invitation is extended to all speakers and other friends, far and near, who feel able to go up to Vineland to plead in this glorious cause.  Jackson Davis, Mary F. Davis, Mrs. H. F. M. Brown, Dr. H. T. Child and others have special invitations and are expected.  Dr. Slade has also expressed a desire to be present and may be expected; and a good time generally may be safely relied upon, so that all participating may hope to return better, wiser and happier.

The best way to come from New York is from the foot of Murray street, by the Vineland Railway, leading at 4:30 P. M., Friday, Sept. 8.

John Gage,
Chairman Committee of Arrangements.


It ought to be known that this association is not secret—It does not aspire to the honor of being a conspiracy.  Its meetings are held in public; they are open to all comers, though only members are permitted to speak (unless by special invitation), and none but members are allowed to vote.  The several sections in this city and vicinity meet as follows:

Section 1 (German)—Sunday, 8 P. M., at the Tenth Ward Hotel, corner of Broome and Forsyth streets.

Section 2 (French)—The second Sunday in each month, 3 P. M., at No. 100 Prince street (especially to accommodate female members) and every other Sunday, 9 A. M., at the same place.

Section 6 (German)—Friday, 8 P. M., at No. 10 Stanton street.

Section 8 (German)—Monday, 8 P. M., at No. 53 Union avenue, Williamsburgh, L. I.

Section 9 (American)—Wednesday, 8 P. M., at No. 35 East Twenty-seventh street.

Section 10 (French)—First Tuesday and third Saturday in each month, 6 P. M., at No. 650 Third avenue, between Forty-first and Forty-second streets.

Section 11 (German)—Thursday, 8 P. M., West Thirty-ninth street, between Eighth and Ninth avenues, at Hessel’s.

Section 12 (American)—The second and fourth Sunday in each month, 8 P. M., at No. 44  Broad street.

[. . .]


Hall of the Friends of Progress,
Vineland, Sept. 8, 1871.

Suffrage Convention convened at 10:30 A. M., and was called to order by Mrs. Ellen Dickinson, the President of the Association.

On motion of John Gage, Col. J. H. Blood, of New York City, was elected Permanent Secretary of the Convention.  Convention opened by song, “We give you joyous greeting,” by the choir of the Association.

Mrs. Stearns then addressed the Convention upon the general moral aspect of the suffrage movement, and made and elaborated the proposition that, “Human rights include the rights equally of men and women, and that for men to deny them to women was virtually to set themselves against Human Rights.”  Said that the great educator was “[Without] agitation, there would be no progress”; all agitators are reformers in the spiritual sense of that term, that women equally with men have a direct interest in all legislation, and are politically members of the nation as much as they are socially; that the mother’s interest in children was superior to the father’s; and that if there are to be any distinctions in legislation between the sexes regarding children, it should be to favor the maternal interest.  The speech was received with the greatest enthusiasm throughout, and Mrs. Stearns retired amid applause.

The President now announced that the Committee on Entertainment was prepared to provide all visitors with accommodations during their stay at the Convention.

The Secretary then read the following letter from Rev. Olympia Brown, of Bridgeport, Ct.:

Bridgeport, Conn., Sept. 10, 1871.

Dear Mrs. Hussey:  I see with pleasure that the Convention of the Friends of Progress will devote next Saturday to a consideration of the question of equal rights to all, with special reference to suffrage.  Gladly would I join in your deliberations; but, as circumstances forbid my attendance, I will send my hearty “God speed” to the meeting.

The questions which you propose to discuss are the most important which this, or any age, can offer.  Let justice be done to all classes, without regard to sex, color or nationality, and we have a cause which time cannot shake, a social order which must be productive of the highest result in the development of human character, and a people most devoted to the service of the Lord, since he who has learned to love his fellow men most effectually serves God.

I look to the enfranchisement of women for the remedy to the many social evils of our time.  Divorces will be less frequent, marriage rendered more permanent when women shall be respected in the marriage relation, receiving her share of mutual earnings of husband and wife, and having the same incentives to effort and opportunities for culture which are placed before her companion.  Then, as the years go by, husband and wife shall grow nearer and nearer to each other, having more in common and a greater similarity of taste, until they shall indeed become one in spirit and in purpose.  But our first work must be to secure to woman those rights of citizenship without which she is powerless.  The Constitution of the United States so plainly guarantees the right of suffrage to all that I do not see how it can much longer be denied to women.  How we are to make our influence felt to obtain what the Constitution so clearly guarantees seems to me to be the practical question of the hour.  May the Friends of Progress assembled in Convention be able to cut the Gordian knot.  God grant you wisdom in your deliberations, and may much good to humanity grow out of your meeting.

Sincerely yours,
Rev. Olympia Brown

Also the following letter from Theodore Tilton:

The Golden Age, September 6, 1871.

Mr. John Gage:
    My Dear Sir: I send you a bundle of Supplements to the Golden Age, containing the recent discussion between Mr. Greeley and myself on the Woman Question, together with my letter to Senator Sumner, deducing woman’s right to the ballot from the Fourteenth Amendment.

Will you do me the favor to see that these copies are judiciously distributed to the members of the Convention?

With good wishes for your meeting,
I am, truly yours,
Theo. Tilton

Mrs. E. J. French, of Philadelphia, then said a few moments before leaving home she had been influenced to write an address which, by permission, she would read to the Convention.  The subject was General Equality for all persons, and was a true and beautiful statement of some phases of the Woman Question and was received by the Convention with great satisfaction.

The Convention then proceeded to the selection of a Committee on Resolutions, the President requesting that they should not follow the common method of procedure in such matters.  She wanted the resolutions to embody the views of the Convention and not of any particular members thereof.  The following persons were then nominated and elected by the Convention:

Mrs. Maria Howland, of Hammonton,
Mrs. Moses Hull, of Baltimore,
Miss Susan Fowler, of Vineland,
Mr. John Gage, of Vineland,
Mr. C. D. Campbell, of Vineland,
and were instructed to report to the afternoon session.  Session closed with a song, “Strong hearted never say fail.”


Convention called to order at 2:30 P. M.

Dr. L. K. Coonley was called from the audience and delivered a characteristic address.  Referred to the prophecies of the spirits previous to the late war, and said they are again prophesying war, but upon another plan, and urged that people should not shut their eyes and ears and hearts against its premonitory symptoms as they did against the slavery war.  The address throughout gave evidence of an earnest purpose and a thorough comprehension of the situation, and had a powerful effect upon the audience.

The Committee on Resolutions then reported as follows:

Resolved, That in this year of grace 1871, and in these United States, the right of suffrage is essential to the life, liberty and happiness of every person qualified to exercise it; and that sex is no disqualification.

Resolved, That the ballot is necessary for self-protection; that the independence, morality and well-being of all women, as well as men, would be greatly enhanced by the right of suffrage; therefore,

Resolved, That we will use our best endeavors to bring about so important a result, in the shortest time possible.

Resolved, That we believe in the alarming tendency to open licentiousness everywhere is but the legitimate result of prenatal conditions in the past—and the only permanent cure is through a free and educated Motherhood.

Resolved, That it is more important that voters should be soldiers in the army of the Lord of peace, than they should be soldiers in the army of the gods of war.

Resolved, that this Convention accepts as true the doctrine that the success of the woman cause and the labor question lies in their coalition, and that this coalition is the only policy that will secure the success of any radical party in the next Presidential campaign.

Resolved, That the Constitution of the United States, under the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments thereof, confers the right of suffrage on women as “citizens,” in the following language: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States of the State wherein they reside.”

Resolved, That the only obstacle now preventing women from exercising the right to vote is the continuance of election laws in the States, but which laws are now rendered obsolete by the Constitution as amended, and ought to be speedily abolished.

Resolved, That we sympathize and will co-operate with any Woman Suffrage Association, Party or League, whose policy is based on the doctrine that women, as citizens of the United States, have the right to vote under the Constitution as now amended, and we especially mention in this connection the Equal Rights Party, whose “platform consists solely and only of declaration of “the equal, civil and political rights of all American citizens, without distinction of sex,” whose special representative is the New York Victoria League, whose candidate for the Presidency, and whose standard-bearer is Victoria C. Woodhull.

An animated discussion sprung up on the resolutions, especially upon the first, which was carried on with great spirit and earnestness by various persons, among whom were Mr. Campbell, Mrs. Duffy, Mr. Edwards, Miss Strickland, Mrs. Stearns, Mrs. French, Mr. Gage, Mrs. Howland, Mrs. Tillotson, etc., and the afternoon was consumed, but to the great edification of the Convention, who were thoroughly aroused with a consciousness that the questions involved are before the public and have got to be settled.

Final action on the resolution was delayed until after Victoria C. Woodhull should have delivered her address at the evening session.  The Convention, in a state of enthusiasm, then adjourned.


Convention came to order at 8 o’clock.  After some preliminary remarks by the President and Mr. Gage, Victoria C. Woodhull proceeded to address the Convention upon the proposition of “Constitutional Equality.”  The address, from beginning to end, was received with the highest evidences of appreciations, and the enthusiasm, which is previous sessions was so marked, now raised to an intense pitch.  The whole Convention, with one hand and one voiced, adopted the resolutions, which had been delayed to await the delivery of the address.  Mrs. Woodhull retired from the rostrum amid thunders of applause.

It having come to the knowledge of some that the Biography of Victoria C. Woodhull, by Theodore Tilton, was about being issued, and that an advance sheet of it had been sent to Mr. Gage, he was requested, as a part of the services of the next forenoon, to have it read to the Convention.  And such announcement was accordingly made.

Convention then adjourned.

[. . .]

The Washington Post, September 11, 1904:

New Jersey Town Where All Mind their Own Business.
Quaint Haven of New Isms

[. . .]

South Jersey, for some occult reason, has been the scene of an unusual number of social and sociological experiments in the form of colonies. [. . .] The concentrated essence of Americanism was collected in the colony of Vineland.  It was founded forty years ago by Charles K. Landis, a Pennsylvanian.  Mr. Landis had ideas, lots of them.  In the first place, he was the father of the “boom.”  Old Vinelanders say that he was the first land boomer in America, the first man to conceive the idea of “promoting” a real estate scheme.

With his essentially modern notions sin this respect he combined some ideas of an alleged Utopian quality.  He planned a community from which the demons of drink and intolerance should be forever banished.  Vineland, by its charter, was prohibited from ever allowing a saloon within its borders, and from that day to this, more than forty years, there has not been a place in Vineland where a man could buy a drink.  Even to-day, it is difficult to get a prescription containing alcoholic ingredients put up at a drug store, and the place has always been the headquarters of the Prohibition party for the State of New Jersey.

There are elements of humor in the practical working out of Mr. Landis’ ideas.  It was so different from anything he expected that the worthy founder stood aghast.  Extremists of all kinds flocked to Vineland in its early days.  For instance, the extreme wing of the bloomer agitation, those who adopted men’s clothes straight out, instead of the bloomer subterfuge, found a home in Vineland.  There was quite a little coterie off women who for some years wore literally the useful garments which many wives are said to wear figuratively.  Most of them subsided, with years and matrimony, into the innocuous petticoat; but a few stood out till the end.  Among them were the Misses Fowler, who took a farm in Vineland forty years ago.  One of the sisters has since died, but the other still runs the farm, from which she has reaped a comfortable fortune.  She is now eighty years old, still wears men’s clothes, and her prospective marriage was announced in the press a few months ago.

A Haven for Dr. Mary Walker.

Another steadfast radical was Dr. Tillotson, a woman highly respected both socially and professionally.  Dr. Tillotson held to men’s clothes until her death not long ago.  Dr. Mary Walker was an intimate friend of Dr. Tillotson’s, and used to visit her for weeks at a time.  Vineland was a haven of refuge to Dr. Mary.  It was the only place in the United States where she could escape the hoots of small boys and the admiring attention of the public.  Vineland has always adhered steadfastly to its original principle, to tolerate anything whatever that did not injure other people.

Curious idiosyncrasies were always cropping up to lend variety to social life.  Dr. Tillotson, for instance, held some unconventional ideas in regard to the psychological effect of occupying another person’s chair.  When she went to a social gathering she always took her own chair along, or else a cushion or silk handkerchief, to place in the one offered her before seating herself.  Numerous men wore their hair long.  One clergyman, distinguished as a writer and a lecturer, now located in one of the largest and wealthiest suburbs of New York, was in his Vineland days noted for the luxuriant mane off raven locks which flowed over his shoulders.  A prominent editor of Vineland still wears his hair as long as a woman’s.  It waves behind him, flowing and unconfined, when he walks the streets of Vineland.  But when he visits New York or Philadelphia he finds it expedient to “do it up,” employing the humble but useful feminine hairpin, and covering the result with a broad-brimmed hat.

Then there was the man who had such an intense antipathy to being buried in a casket that he wove a receptacle of basketwork in which to be laid away, which he would describe and display to any one sufficiently interested to listen.  He has since been buried in his basket, and his mortal remains have no doubt returned to their constituent elements with the facility desired by him.  Vineland as a whole took to cremation as a duck does to water.  It was the first town in America to extend the glad hand to the new method of sepulture.  It has no crematory, but there is not a clergyman in Vineland who has not officiated at many funerals at the Germantown crematory.  Mortuary urns are to be found in the spare bedrooms of most Vineland home.

Mediums by the Hundred.

The Spiritualists took advantage of Vineland’s cardinal principle very early in its history.  At one period there was an invasion of Spiritualists.  No less than 300 mediums were to be found, and for a little while the town went mad over table tipping and spirit poetry.  The mania passed, perhaps because the town could not stand the financial strain any longer. The 300 are gone, and in their place one lone lady comes down from Philadelphia occasionally to bring messages from the cremated ones.  The solid result of the high tide is that the local organization of Spiritualists owns the town opera house, which it utilizes for services on Sundays and rents to traveling troupes on week days.

After the Spiritualists came the Free Lovers.  Victoria Woodhull and her sister and some of their followers lived there for a time and conducted an active propaganda.  They stayed longer, probably, then they would have done in any like community in America.  Vineland, with its amiable interest in anything new, looked into the novel doctrines with an unbiased mind.  It took the town some little time to wake up to the fact that this particular brand of progress was something it did not want.  Then residence for the propagandists was quietly made socially impossible, and they sought new fields.  Instead of an opera house, the latter propagandists left behind them as a souvenir only  the name “Free Love,” which a pair of perfectly orthodox, tight-married young parents had bestowed upon their innocent infant.  It was a proof of their peculiar innocence of soul that they never realized what a name they had saddled upon their child until she, grown to years of sophistication, indignantly shed it and took another.

“Father” Gage was a revered old man, who always used to carry an old-time shepherd’s staff, taller than himself, when he went out to walk.  He said it was more substantial and satisfactory than an ordinary cane, and nobody minded.  The first Japanese hat to be seen in America of that basketwork helmet variety which looks so weird when first beheld, very properly appeared on the streets of Vineland.

Good as Gold Cure.

Throughout the history of the place, but especially in the days before the various “cures” came up, Vineland has been the refuge of men seeking to get control of the drink habit.  It had the reputation of being the only place in America where the stuff was actually not to be had, in public or private, and prominent citizens and sons of prominent citizens of New York and Philadelphia have at times passed unexplained sojourns in this little Jersey town.  More than one Vineland clergymen has had such men under his care.

Vineland never noticed or commented on any of these eccentricities.  It never kept out anything but the saloons, or froze out anything but the freelovers.  [. . .]

Sociological Theories Flourish.

Socialism, single tax, philosophical anarchy, and probably every other sociological theory known, all have their representatives in Vineland, and all are regarded with the same good-humored tolerance.  For years there was a co-operative store in the town.  One of the papers is a leading organ of the Populist party.

Probably the prevailing atmosphere of ready acceptance of new ideas induced Vineland to lend itself so easily to the biggest scheme of municipal ownership undertaken by any town of its size in the United States.  Six years ago it acquired its water works from the private company then operating them.  It established an electric-lighting plant, and the two together, with the pumps for flushing the sewers and other apparatus for conducting the sewage system, are all combined in one plant, a mammoth affair for so small a place. [. . .]

Atlanta Constitution, January 7, 1886:

[. . .] the daughter of Commodore Meade, of the United States navy.  When in her teens she married Charles K. Landis, the founder of Vineland.  She was under age, and her father tried to make it lively for Landis.  The son-in-law, however, was too sharp for the old man.  He locked him up in a lunatic asylum, and had a bill rushed through the New Jersey legislature making his marriage legal.  Unfortunately Mrs. Landis developed certain mental weaknesses and a Vineland editor named Carruth, had the bad taste to show them up in print.  One day Landis walked into the editor’s office and put a bullet in his head.  Under the circumstances it was Carruth’s duty to kick the bucket, but he persisted in living, much to the annoyance of Landis and the perplexity of the doctors.  When Landis understood that Carruth could not get well with an ounce of lead in his brain he paid him a large sum of money to compromise the matter.  Then Carruth died and Landis was tried for murder and acquitted on the ground of insanity, Mrs. Landis continued to make herself so disagreeable that a divorce was secured.  She afterwards married the Count Von Mutzenbach, who died, leaving her an income of $10,000 a year.

American Association of Spiritualists,
Annual Convention at Troy, New York

[. . .]

The hour for the election having arrived, Dr. Gardner, Dr. Hallock, and Mrs. Woodhull were nominated.  On the first ballot, the two former had 25 votes each, and Mrs. Woodhull, 23.  On the second ballot, Mrs. Woodhull had 42, Dr. Gardner, 36.  Mrs. Woodhull was declared elected.  She was introduced by Mrs. Brown, who said: Friends, we have most of us, and perhaps all, been looking away toward Washington, and counting the months and years before we should have the pleasure of voting for Victoria C. Woodhull for President of the United States.  Now we have paused for a moment and elected her President of the American Association of Spiritualists.  I am happy to introduce her to you, a brave souled woman, to stand where I have stood during the past year.

Mrs. Woodhull said: I scarcely know what to say in return for the honor you have bestowed upon me.  When I started to come to Troy my heart was very faint.  I felt that I should meet a great many persons who misunderstood me; but I had an assurance that your hearts were in the right, and that if I had been misunderstood, when I reached out my hand it would be received.  All I have to say is, by my work ye shall know me.

The tellers reported.  Dr. H. T. Child was elected Secretary; Levi Weaver, Treasurer; A. A. Wheelock and Anna N. Middlebrook members of the Board of Trustees for three years.

Afternoon session devoted to resolutions.  Evening address by Mrs. Woodhull on “The Constitutional Right of Women to Vote.”  Addresses by Mrs. Middlebrook, Moses Hull, and closing remarks by Mrs. Brown, retiring President.  [. . .]

The National Society of Spiritualists

The editor of this journal, in accepting an invitation to attend the Eighth Annual Convention of the National Society of Spiritualists, held in Troy last week, only expected to steal a few hours from the care of business to make a restful trip up the beautiful Hudson River, to meet with the representative Spiritualists of the United States, to speak a few earnest words to the Convention, and to slip back again without having taken any very conspicuous or important part in the proceedings.  Her surprise at the cordiality of her reception and at her nomination and election to the presidency of the Society was equaled only by the gratitude which she felt, and shall ever feel, at the unexpected and tumultuous kindness with which she was then and there honored beyond her desert.

This much of the good will entertained by the Spiritualists of this country toward one of their number is enhanced in her appreciation by the fact that she had never before taken part in the proceedings of the society, and had never until the publication of Mr. Tilton’s memorial been identified before the public with those spiritual phenomena among which she has spent all the years of her life, and which to her are the daily inspiration of her religious faith and hope.

During the past year the functions of the presidency have been ably and honorably fulfilled by Mrs. H. F. M. Brown, a live and noble woman, worthy to be at the head of any society, and whose sweet and genial influence has for years shone like a sunbeam, gilding every true and beneficent reform.

According to Mrs. Brown’s vacant chair, it will be the new President’s glad privilege (to say nothing of her willing duty) to attend, in person, as often as possible, the most important gatherings of Spiritualists in various cities of the country; and also to disseminate through the journal which she edits, and through speeches, documents, tracts and various publications, the great truths of Spiritualism, and the current phenomena which best illustrate the rapid and wondrous advance of this most beautiful of all religions. [. . .]

Marx’s View of Woodhull and the International


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