Hullism and Woodhullism

Victoria Claflin Woodhull, “A Word to the Frightened,” Woodhull & Claflin’s Weekly, September 13, 1873

We are in the receipt of a sufficient number of communications to indicate that the relation of Moses Hull’s experience has shocked a good many sensitive souls almost out of their property.  They seem to forget that the social question is up for discussion and solution, and that a single fact aids more in the solution than many arguments.  In the true view of the case, if those experiences are entirely in opposition to the highest truth, still should the world have cause to thank Moses Hull for having the honesty and the moral courage to come before a pretentious world with these facts.  Whatever is best, whatever may turn out to be for the best, so far as he has gone in the solution of this question, he has had the strength to give it to the world, which, instead of stoning him, should honor him for it.  It is just such frankness as this on the part of all persons that would solve this whole question in a single month.  Moses Hull has traveled enough, and has confidences enough—both male and female—to show him that he was perfectly justified in stating what he did about those who, most likely, would criticise him most severely.  This will undoubtedly be carried so far as to sting him into telling the whole truth, as he knows it, which so far he has not done.

Consider for a moment what would result should every person speak even so much of the whole truth as has Moses Hull!  Why, hypocrisy and falsehood and deception would be killed dead for all time, and truth and honor and integrity be substituted in the vacant places in people’s souls.  Is Moses Hull any worse because he has told the truth than he would have been had he gone on a living lie?  Would they who condemn him have it understood that they uphold lives of grossest deceit?  But just this they do when they rail out against him.  It is useless to attempt longer to cover up this matter and endeavor to make it appear all right on the surface, while within is deceit, dishonesty and damnation.  Or shall hypocrisy still hold its sway over the world, and consign it to the depths of lowest hell?  The world is in the pains of a great labor, and the child, freedom, is striving to be born.  Will the people persistently forbid the birth, and be themselves involved in the results?  A higher and mightier civilization than has yet been known in the sidereal universe is struggling to be ushered into existence on this planet.  If it succeed not, the dark ages were as nothing to what shall follow.  Eternal life is in conflict with hundreds of thousands of years of virtual death; and it behooves the enlightened people of this world to see to it upon which side their influence is thrown.  This may be laughed at now; but ten years shall not pass until those who laugh will have cause to regret their foolishness, and to cry out, Oh, that there had been more Moses Hulls, willing to become “a propitiation for our sins!”

Now here is a fact in the world that is to come to light.  Everybody knows it, and yet almost everybody pretends that not anybody knows it, or pretends to think that not anybody knows it, or pretends to think that he thinks that not anybody knows it.  We have not been in the so-called Spiritualistic ranks many years, but long enough to have learned that, as a rule, they are all as good, or as bad, as Moses Hull, or no better or no worse than he is, while our observation among the world at large long since convinced us that its condition is the same.  Then why attempt to hide it longer?  I repeat, everybody knows it.  There is something wrong somewhere, and let us have it out, so that, knowing what it is, the remedy may be found and applied.  Be assured that we are after the truth, and we consider every fact that points us in the way that she lies as invaluable.  Least of all should professed reformers stand blocking the way and throwing stones at those who are honestly seeking.  These Christian Spiritualists should remember that he for whom they profess so great regard associated principally with harlots and other similar classes.  Beware that ye do not become the scribes and pharisees to this generation.

Think of the whole matter carefully—prayerfully.  It is evident that Moses Hull has done no one any wrong.  He cannot be charged with compulsion, except so far as his wife was concerned; and for this he ought severely to be censured, as had every other man who does likewise, and their name is legion.  From Elvira Hull’s letter in last week’s issue, it will be seen that she, as well as Moses, received benefit from that which is so terrible in your eyes.  Now, if any of his companions have been abused by him, they should make it evident, so that the right and the wrong of this whole matter may come to the surface.  What the world is seeking, and what it ought to seek, is happiness; and remember that each individual has the God-given right to seek it in his or her own way.

It is more than probable that many who have gladly welcomed Moses Hull to their homes will now close their doors in his face; but will such, before doing this, remember that, in some way, if not in the one specified by him, they are as much open to censure as he.  The fact is, however, even viewed from the standpoint of the objectors, he is a safer person to admit to the family than before, since now he stands in his true colors and cannot be mistaken.

Do those who write and say that Moses Hull can never enter their doors again, wish it to be understood that their wives and daughters now, being made acquainted with the real Moses Hull, are more in danger from him than they were previously, when they pretended to think him a safe companion?  We fear this sort of morality is too much after the sort that is maintained in most fashionable hotels, in one of which not long since we were informed, in the most matter-of-fact sort of manner, that the morality of this business did not consist in its existence or non-existence, but in being found out—that is to say, hotel keepers do not care what irregularities go on in their houses so that they do not find each other out.  Strong as the world is, brave and firm as human nature is, good and true as men and women innately are, the system of hypocritical pretension that holds high sway to-day will be too much for them all, and if it do not have vent soon will sink everything in eternal ruin.

Now, if it be true that the system of compulsory marriage is productive of so much misery as it is at present indicated that it is; if it be true that the compulsory consorting of two persons tends to disease, unhappiness and death; if it be true that all defective children are the result of ill-assorted unions and undesired pregnancy; if it be true that four-fifths of all marriage people chafe under the bondage; if indeed it be true that almost the whole misery and crime and horror there is in the world exists because the law insists on compulsory monogamic marriage—we ask, in the name of all that is good, and true, and pure, and holy—aye, and human and divine, if it be not time that the wrong there is be righted?  We say, Amen and Amen! and we say heaven bless Moses Hull for telling the world how he found more happiness, better conditions and a truer life.

It seems to us that the time has come in which reformers should be not willing merely, but desirous, to examine the view of all persons bearing upon the vital question of reform; and especially so to analyze the real meaning of experiences, let them come from whatever source.  We want the truth, let it be what it may, even if it be revolutionary to all our present conceptions and ideas of right and propriety; and least of all should we be affrighted at it, whatever may be the garb in which it comes.  Therefore, if in these experiences there appear things that, at first glance, and before having been thoroughly considered, seem to shock our sensibilities, we should not discard them as valueless or harmful, and cast them by with the pharisaical feeling, “O God, I thank Thee that I am not as this man is.”

Victoria Woodhull, “Is It Woodhullism?” Woodhull & Claflin’s Weekly, September 13, 1873

No! there is no such thing as Woodhullism or any other ism standing for the people in freedom.  This inquiry comes pouring in upon us from all quarters.  We must confess to the greatest surprise that people who have read the Weekly have not yet learned to be individuals, and to permit all individuals to stand upon their own merits.  This, about which these inquiries comes, is Moses Hullism and nobody’s else “ism.”  There may be others, as we know very well there are thousands similar to him; but that does not make them Hullites.  When shall we learn to let people be honest and frank, without endeavoring to damn them for the attempt?

Once again we wish to say, if there be anything that may be called Woodhullism, it is the theory that every individual is personally free and has the right to live his or her own life; and that he or she who lives such life openly before the world is a savior and hero.  We teach Individualism; and we wish everybody in the world was as well advanced in it as Moses Hull, and like him willing to give his or her experience for the benefit of the world, even if like him also, it is known that crucifixion will follow.  Again we say, heaven bless Moses Hull for having the moral courage to lay his life before the world, and we prophesy that before a year more is passed, the tongues that now would destroy him will speak his praise, not perhaps for what he has done, but for having manhood enough to stand with it before the world accepting all consequences.  One thing is certain, Woodhullism, as it please some to call it, is not cursed by deceit or mildewed by hypocrisy.


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