Two sisters who scandalized America. Victoria Woodhull and her sister Tennessee arrived in New York in the 1870s at the beginning of the Gilded Age, already celebrated as “spirit readers”. They were brilliant, fearless, young and beautiful – and determined to liberate women from the straitjacket of Victorian morality into the joys of sex. They got rich with advice from Cornelius Vanderbilt, opened their own brokerage firm on Wall Street, championed women’s rights, published a radical newspaper, and had affairs with many of the most important men in New York. Victoria ran for President and was the first woman to address Congress. When she admitted to a standing-room audience at Town Hall that she practiced “free love”, Anthony Comstock’s Vice Squad threw her in jail in the tombs, where she almost died. Tennessee planned a daring jailbreak with money from her lover Vanderbilt.

The sisters brazenly challenged bourgeois hypocrisy with ideas that are still radical.

Victoria, 28
Tennessee, 20
Cornelius Vanderbilt, 72, richest man in America, Tennie’s lover
Henry Ward Beecher, 60, famous preacher with many mistresses
Anthony Comstock, 35, head of the Vice Squad
Madame Annie, ageless, runs the fanciest brothel in N.Y.

Glory Girls
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