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Free Lover: Sex, Marriage and Eugenics in the Early Speeches of Victoria Woodhull

Victoria C. Woodhull

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ISBN 10: 1587420503 / ISBN 13: 9781587420504
Published by Inkling Books
Used Condition: VERY GOOD Soft cover
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Light rubbing wear to cover, spine and page edges. Very minimal writing or notations in margins not affecting the text. Possible clean ex-library copy, with their stickers and or stamp(s). Bookseller Inventory # 2617564047

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Free Lover: Sex, Marriage and Eugenics in ...

Publisher: Inkling Books

Binding: Paperback

Book Condition:VERY GOOD

About this title


Aldous Huxley's Brave New World was fiction. Victoria Woodhull's Brave New World was to be terrifyingly real. As the first female Wall Street brokers, Victoria Woodhull and her sister Tennie had reputations to protect. They fretted about Tennie's well-publicized remark, "Many of the best men in [Wall] Street know my power. Commodore Vanderbilt knows my power." She had meant her skill as a fortune teller, but the press quite rightly picked up hints the attractive pair traded sexual favors for assistance in their business. To make matters worse, in their magazine the sisters had published articles promoting free love, while distancing themselves from what was said. Taking the offensive, Victoria moved, step by step, until in a speech on November 20, 1871, she boldly proclaimed: "And to those who denounce me for this I reply: 'Yes, I am a Free Lover. I have an inalienable, constitutional, and natural right to love whom I may, to love as long or as short a period as I can; to change that love every day if I please, and with that right neither you nor any law can frame any right to interfere.'" Having come out of the closet, she had to defend that lifestyle from those who warned that it meant social ruin. In speeches across the country, she championed a new society that, in its nineteenth-century context, was remarkable similar to Huxley's 1932 classic, Brave New World. Babies were not grown in bottles, but pregnant women were to be treated as "laboring for society," "paid the highest wages," and once the baby was weaned, "the fruit of her labor will of right belong to society and she return to her common industrial pursuits." To critics who warned that free love meant children growing up without parents, she replied that, "not more than one in ten" mothers was competent, and that parents should be replaced by the State because, "It is but one step beyond compulsory education to the complete charge of children." In her Brave New World, you could have all the sex you could attract, but it would be impossible to be a genuine parent.

From the Publisher:

This book is part of a series of books on the history of eugenics that includes G. K. Chesterton's Eugenics and Other Evils, one of the few books to criticize eugenics in the 1920s, as well as The Pivot of Civilization in Historical Perspective, Margaret Sanger's 1922 birth control bestseller with 31 additional chapters to explain the eugenic and race suicide context in which she wrote.

The companion volume to Free Lover is Lady Eugenist: Feminist Eugenics in the Speeches and Writings of Victoria Woodhull. It includes the full text of her most important published speeches in support of eugenics. These were, for the most part, later speeches with a more scientific foundation than those in Free Lover. The two books are best read together and followed by those by Chesterton and Sanger.

Lady Eugenist also suggests that there is evidence to support two ideas that are rarely, if ever, mentioned by the historians of eugenics. First, that eugenics in America had a different beginning than that in the U.K. It began before Charles Darwin's Origin of Species with radical 'free love' sects on the American frontier. Only later was its sexual mysticism replaced by more scientific ideas about eugenics. Second, Victoria Woodhull deserves at least as much of the credit for pioneering eugenics as Francis Galton. It was she who brought those radical free love ideas before a general audience, both in the U.S. and the U.K. And she did so almost thirty years before Francis Galton began to promote eugenics in earnest after 1900. You might even say that she retired from promoting eugenics before the movement's alleged but more cautious and respectable founder took up the cause.

For students and others in a hurry, most of these books are or will be available in a downloadable Adobe PDF ebook format that has no restrictions on printing.

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

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