Our Humane Angelic Philosophy

“Mrs. Victoria C. Woodhull and Mrs. M. Wilcoxson,” Religio-Philosophical Journal (Chicago), June 7, 1873

Letter from Mrs. Woodhull:

Mrs. M. J. Wilcoxon, Dear Madam:  I regret exceedingly that so many persons, and among them yourself, should feel called upon to print criticisms of me and my social theories in a journal that refuses all replies to the same, when they know that the Weekly is open to the keenest criticism, and the broadest discussion.  I regard such action on the part of my critics as cowardly, and on the part of the Journal as either dishonest or insincere.  But I desire to ask you a question.  Suppose you were acquainted with the most prominent minister of the most popular church in your vicinity, who was not only a believer in spiritual manifestations, but a medium, actually having them; and that he had spoken freely with you upon the subject; but that he should preach to his congregation, and lecture to the public, and write in his newspaper in the most denunciatory terms, both of Spiritualism and of yourself as a medium, would you or would you not make public use of your private knowledge to confound him, and aid Spiritualism?  A simple yes or no.

Yours, etc.,

Victoria C. Woodhull,
48 Broad Street, New York, April 25, 1873.

Mrs. Wilcoxon’s Reply:

[. . .] Of course, I am writing from my own standpoint; and the sincerity of my views forces me to treat your position with earnestness and severity.  Please bear in mind it is your platform, and your recent most unexampled conduct in forcing a wide-spread and dangerous precedent in society that I am led to criticise and condemn—nor am I the coward to withhold from you my just and honest convictions.  In doing this, I am not seeking any personal gratification or revenge, but I seek the triumph of our humane angelic philosophy, which forbids that any true reformer, and especially as an agent of the higher powers, should descend to low vituperation and abuse of a kindred soul, no matter how widely they may differ.  But it is my privilege, my right, my duty even, to make hideous and revolting any vice or crime which may blot the otherwise fair and useful life of an immortal being, and plunge into depths of unutterable woe both the guilty and the innocent.  Individuals, like yourself, who voluntarily publish themselves to the world and make themselves correspondingly notorious with their declarations, must not expect immunity from the most searching criticism, which thus becomes personal—but what right have they to drag before the public the names of useful, honored citizens, to make them a mark for every filthy innuendo and slur that may be heaped upon them?  It may seem to some a rich entertainment or innocent diversion to set up a human being as a mark for the thousands of the scandal family to spit upon, but to me it is dirty work, that I cannot afford to be engaged in.  In reply to your question, then, I say no, as concerns Mr. Beecher’s case.

I am astonished that you put the query, for I have read your paper when it fell in my way, and never before saw this excuse advanced for your exposure of him.  In many of your articles you have defended him in the strongest language, as one of the “great, magnetic, grand” souls of the age—one you would fain have secured to introduce you and your social scheme to the world, and one you gloried in announcing as practically with you, though refusing to publicly avow it.  Now, you advance a reason for assailing Mr. Beecher which puts a new pith into the quarrel.  You say that he has preached and published “in the most denunciatory terms against both Spiritualism and yourself as a medium,” and state interrogatively, that you, on this account, “made public use of your private knowledge to confound him and aid Spiritualism.”  My dear woman, you never committed a graver mistake.  Spiritualism can never be aided by personal retaliation or revenge.  It is evident, from your statement, that there was a desire to injure (confound) Mr. Beecher—and if it be true that he has treated you and your Spiritualism in denunciatory terms, what have you done at last, or in the premises, but to make yourself as offensive to Mr. B. and his friends, as a long, bitter and furious string of accusations could make possible? [. . .]

M. J. Wilcoxson, Golden City, Colorado.


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