Crossing Swords: Mary Baker Eddy vs. Victoria Claflin Woodhull and the Battle for the Soul of Marriage
A historical biography comparing two trailblazers
A woman is running for United States President! Socialism is gaining ground in America, and a campaign is underway to redefine marriage, causing a culture war between Christian leaders and feminists. The year is 1872, and Victoria Woodhull is leading the radical faction of the women’s rights movement along with Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. On the other end of the women’s rights spectrum, more philosophically aligned with Lucy Stone and Mary Livermore, a movement that would put woman’s voice into the pulpit world-wide is being launched by Mary Baker Eddy, who staunchly defends the Christian view of the sanctity of marriage.
America’s nineteenth-century culture war
In the decade after the American Civil War, reformers wanted to fulfill the promise of the American Revolution by giving both blacks and women the right to vote. The changes in legal interpretation required to allow woman suffrage seemed to shake the foundation of the male-female relationship. Disagreement over the implications of “women’s rights” for sexual behavior triggered a political, legal, and religious battle for the soul of marriage.
The 1870s marriage debate: Marriage vs. Free Love
CROSSING SWORDS explores the history of the institution of marriage and the contentious “free-love” movement through the life experiences, careers, and public statements of Mary Baker Eddy and Victoria Claflin Woodhull, who each came from completely different backgrounds and had polar opposite views on marriage and sexuality. This thought-provoking story is a surprisingly relevant prequel to the similarly divisive marriage-related issues of our own era.
An exploration of female power
The careers of Eddy and Woodhull exemplify female leadership at the highest level of empowerment in religion and politics. These are two of the most powerful women leaders of the 19th century. They have both often been overlooked in American history, but are nonetheless influential. Their little-known roles in the early women’s rights movement provide this generation new insights into woman’s climb to new heights — and the genesis of modern marriage issues.
About the author
A graduate of The Bush School, The Evergreen State College, and the University of Washington Genealogy and Family History program, author Cindy Peyser Safronoff combined her interests in historical research, female leadership, religious theology, and civic dialogs to explore this 1870s marriage debate. Safronoff currently divides her time between urban Seattle on the liberal Left Coast and suburban St. Louis, conservative crossroads of the midwestern Heartland and the southern Bible Belt. This biregional lifestyle has helped her better understand the conflicting viewpoints within American culture explored in CROSSING SWORDS.
Crossing Swords: Mary Baker Eddy vs. Victoria Claflin Woodhull and the Battle for the Soul of Marriage by Cindy Peyser Safronoff is a history of marriage in America told through a literary nonfiction drama about two trailblazing women. Crossing Swords is available in paperback through Amazon or by special order through your favorite local bookstore. The e-book version is available through Amazon, Barns & Noble, Kobu, and many other outlets. It is also available to borrow from a growing number of libraries.