"Get Thee Behind Me, (Mrs.) Satan!"

February 17, 1872

Thomas Nast

"Get Thee Behind Me, (Mrs.) Satan!"

Alcohol; Analogies, Bible; Home Life; Sexual Morality, Free Love; Women, Wives;

Woodhull, Victoria;

No 'Places' indexed for this cartoon.

Wife (with heavy burden). "I'd rather travel the hardest path of matrimony than follow your footsteps."

This Harper's Weekly cartoon by Thomas Nast warns against the allure of the Free Love movement advocated by Victoria Woodhull.

In 1872, Victoria Woodhull, the well-known advocate of Free Love and women’s rights, became the first woman to be nominated for president. She ran on the Equal Rights party ticket at a time when she and other women were not legally allowed to vote. She and her sister, Tennesse Claflin, published their own newspaper, The Woodhull & Claflin Weekly

In this cartoon, Thomas Nast depicts Woodhull as Satan incarnate for her advocacy of Free Love—i.e., the rejection of marriage as an oppressive institution and the embrace of sexual freedom. The poor wife in the background spurns the temptation, despite carrying the heavy burden of children and an alcoholic husband up the steep and treacherous path of life. 

Near the end of the 1872 presidential campaign, Woodhull would publish allegations that the nation’s most prominent and respected clergyman, Henry Ward Beecher, had been having an affair with the wife of Woodhull's biographer, Theodore Tilton. In Woodhull’s estimation, Beecher was hypocritically preaching one tenet while living by another, even though his adultery was a far cry from Free Love. A subsequent trial over the case, which ended with a hung jury, became a sensational news story.

Robert C. Kennedy

"Get Thee Behind Me, (Mrs.) Satan!"
June 17, 2024

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