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Free Lover by Victoria Woodhull
Lady Eugenist by Victoria Woodhull
The Life of Toussaint L'Overture by John R. Beard
The Pivot of Civilization in Historical Perspective by Margaret Sanger


Free Lover: Sex, Marriage and Eugenics in the Early Speeches of Victoria Woodhull by Victoria Woodhull (1837-1927)

Aldous Huxley's 1932 novel, 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. Victoria was among the first to call for the State to eliminate social ills by controlling who could be a parent.

ISBN: 1-58742-050-3 (paperback); 1-58742-051-1 (hardback); 1-58742-052-X (ebook)
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Lady Eugenist: Feminist Eugenics in the Speeches and Writings of Victoria Woodhull by Victoria Woodhull (1837-1927)

During the last decades of her life, Victoria Woodhull claimed to be the first of either sex to promote eugenics throughout the United States and Great Britain. Even more surprising, she claimed to have been doing so in the early 1870s, three decades before the cause was taken up in earnest by Francis Galton, the eminent scientist that eugenists claim as their founder.
It's obvious why eugenists have adjusted their history. Francis Galton was the respectable, well-bred, well-educated cousin of Charles Darwin. Victoria Woodhull was a twice-divorced woman of uncertain breeding and limited education, a woman with a reputation for sexual and political radicalism. Unfortunately, historians have followed the eugenists and credited Galton rather than Woodhull.

This book investigates Woodhull's claim and presents evidence from her published speeches that she was right. She was speaking on eugenics to large audiences at least as early as 1871, and by the mid-1870s eugenics, which she called "stirpiculture" and "scientific propagation," formed a major part of speeches she was making across the United States and (after 1876) in Great Britain. By his own admission, Galton did not take up the cause until after 1900. This book includes one of her earliest speeches in favor of eugenics, newspaper reports of speeches from the 1870s, and five easily read facsimiles of speeches that until now were available only in a few research libraries in the world.

Even more important, what Woodhull said about eugenics appealed to the same two groups that would later support Margaret Sanger's birth control movement, wealthy and highly educated women. Her speeches and writings laid the eugenic foundation for the forced sterilization laws passed in over thirty states from 1907 on. When the U.S. Supreme Court declared such laws constitutional in 1927, the New York Times reported that Woodhull praised the decision and said she had "advocated that fifty years ago."

ISBN: 1-58742040-6 (paperback); 1-58742042-2 (hardback); 1-58742-042-2 (ebook)
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The Life of Toussaint L'Overture: The Negro Patriot of Hayti
by John R. Beard

There's perhaps nothing more foolish than believing that wisdom was born with us or, put another way, that those who went before us have nothing to teach. In fact, improvements in technology and a growing cultural sophistication have little to do with the wisdom it takes to organize our lives, discipline our thoughts, and set our goals in ways that will not only achieve success, but the sort of success that endures. Thinking otherwise does not mean we repeat the mistakes of the past. It means we will make mistakes--often painful and costly ones--that wiser ancestors would never have made.

That's why this book is so important. It not only describes events that took place some two centuries ago, it gives them from the perspective of someone who died before anyone now living was born. It is a voice out of the past, and one that should be heard.

When the topic of this book, Toussaint L'Overture, was born slavery seemed one the 'givens' of history, as much a part of modern life as traffic congestion and noise. All great civilizations, many educated people would have told you, are built on sweated labor of slaves. Toussaint dared to challenge that, not just with a belief that slaves should be free, but with the far more radical idea that slaves had within themselves the power to break their chains and reorder their lives in freedom. He dared to demonstrate that truth, not against a corrupt and decadent colonial government, but against the very same French military leaders and troops who had overrun Europe with ease. The defeat he and his people handed the French was so great that the nation abandoned its most valuable overseas possession for a pitance rather than risk another colonial war. That's why the United States owes its possession of all the land west of the Alleganies and east of the Mississipi River to a Haitian slave whose name most Americans have never heard.

When this book was published in 1853, slavery was fighting for its existence. Modern Britain never permitted slavery on its shores and, after a long and bitter political struggle, banned slavery in its colonies. In the sort of unilateral projection of force that is the prerogative of superpowers, the navies of Britain and, oddly enough, of the United States sought to end the seaborne slave trade that remained, particularly along the coasts of Africa. But the United States, the 'peculiar institution' of slavery remained. This book was written to destroy the prejudices upon which that slavery was built, using as an example the marvelous life of Toussaint L'Overture. Here's how the book's author stated his purpose.
I am about to sketch the history and character of one of those extraordinary men, whom Providence, from time to time, raises up for the accomplishment of great, benign, and far-reaching results. I am about to supply the clearest evidence that there is no insuperable barrier between the light and the dark-coloured tribes of our common human species. I am about to exhibit, in a series of indisputable facts, a proof that the much misunderstood and downtrodden negro race are capable of the loftiest virtues, and the most heroic efforts. I am about to present a tacit parallel between white men and dark men, in which the latter will appear to no disadvantage. Neither eulogy, however, nor disparagement is my aim, but the simple love of justice. It is a history--not an argument--that I purpose to set forth. In prosecuting the narrative, I shall have to conduct the reader through scenes of aggression, resistance, outrage, revenge, bloodshed, and cruelty, that grieve and wound the hear, and exciting the deepest pity for the sufferers, raise irrepressible indignation against ambition, injustice and tyranny--the scourges of the world, and specially the sources of complicated and horrible calamities to the natives of Africa.--From the introduction to Chapter 1

ISBN: 1-58742-010-4 (paperback) 159 pages, 14 tables, 2 graphics
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The Pivot of Civilization in Historical Perspective: The Birth Control Classic
by Margaret Sanger (1879-1966) with an Introduction by H. G. Wells (1866-1946). With articles by others, including Victoria Woodhull Martin, George Bernard Shaw, Theodore Roosevelt, Ellen Key, Henry Goddard, G. K. Chesterton, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Archbishop Patrick Hayes, and Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

Margaret Sanger was one of the most influential women of the twentieth century and for many decades her name was a household word. The organization she founded, Planned Parenthood, has received hundreds of millions of dollars from the U.S. government and draws generously from the world's largest foundations. With close ties to similar organizations around the world, its influence is truly global. Yet few Americans know anything about Margaret Sanger, the ideals to which she dedicated her life, or the purpose for which Planned Parenthood was founded.

Unlike any book that has come before, this new study of Margaret Sanger takes her seriously as a thinker and provides a definitive reference to what she believed. It places what she said and did in the proper historical context with no less than thirty chapters of prologue to prepare readers readers to understand the concluding twelve chapters, which are the full text of Sanger's own best-selling 1922 classic, The Pivot of Civilization, introduced by the noted science fiction writer, H. G. Wells.

To give one example, Sanger constantly clashed with a once influential movement that fretted about something called 'race suicide.' A typical biography of Sanger might have a few paragraphs in which the author gives an opinion about that movement that's likely to be only partially accurate. This book does not leave its readers captive to the scholarly fashions and prejudices of the moment. It takes you back to the time when race suicide was fiercely debated and lets you listen in on what was said. It has no less than eleven chapters quoting extensively from all sides of that once heated debate. It takes you back to the first written mention of the term and shows how the concept expanded, year by year, until it became a weapon to alter what was being taught at elite women's colleges and to change what was expected of educated, professional women. Those century-old issues still affect how present-day feminism views the world for good and ill.

These are not isolated quotes that might be taken out of context. Each writer is allowed to argue his point of view in great detail, only irrelevant distractions have been removed. Two of these preliminary chapters are long out-of-print articles by Sanger herself and two are by her arch-foe in the race suicide debate, President Theodore Roosevelt. You would have to spend weeks searching through a large university library to find even part of what's in this provocative book. That makes this book an excellent resource for students with research papers to be written.

Why, you ask, is that long ago clash important? That's like asking why slavery, outlawed almost a century and a half ago, matters to race relations. When you hear a feminist warn of those who intend to "force motherhood" on unwilling women, knowingly or not, she is reacting to that once heated debate. And when she complains that men simply "don't get it" about reproductive issues, she is referring, yet again, to an era when who would and would not have children was an all too public issue. You see that in H. G. Well's own introduction to Pivot, where he notes that as a man interested in promoting a "New Civilization," he can't attach the same importance Sanger does to birth control. This book brings that once familar debate out of its closet and into the cleansing light of day. And, most important of all, it helps you to understand contemporary debates about issues such as abortion and sex. Today's events are based largely on past event.. What happened then influences how each of us thinks and acts today. Understand that, and we better understand ourselves and those around us.

Quotes from Margaret Sanger in The Pivot of Civilization
"But there is a special type of philanthropy or benevolence, now widely advertised and advocated, both as a federal program and as worthy of private endowment, which strikes me as being more insidiously injurious than any other. This concerns itself directly with the function of maternity, and aims to supply gratis medical and nursing facilities to slum mothers."

"On its scientific side, Eugenics suggests the reestablishment of the balance between the fertility of the 'fit' and the 'unfit.' The birth-rate among the normal and healthier and finer stocks of humanity, is to be increased by awakening among the 'fit' the realization of the dangers of a lessened birth-rate in proportion to the reckless breeding among the 'unfit.' . . . . But the scientific Eugenists fail to recognize that this restraint of fecundity is due to a deliberate foresight and is a conscious effort to elevate standards of living for the family and the children of the responsible--and possibly more selfish--sections of the community. The appeal to enter again into competitive child-bearing, for the benefit of the nation or the race, or any other abstraction, will fall on deaf ears."

"Our great problem is not merely to perfect machinery, to produce superb ships, motor cars or great buildings, but to remodel the race so that it may equal the amazing progress we see now making in the externals of life. . . . Every single case of inherited defect, every malformed child, every congenitally tainted human being brought into this world is of infinite importance to that poor individual; but it is of scarcely less importance to the rest of us and to all of our children who must pay in one way or another for these biological and racial mistakes."

More on The Pivot of Civilization in Historical Perspective
(including a detailed table of contents)

ISBN: 1-58742-004-X (paperback); 1-58742-008-2 (hardback);
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