John E. P. Doyle, Henry Ward Beecher and His Accusers, 1874:
SKETCH OF TENNIE C. CLAFLIN--HER PERSONAL APPEARANCE. --THE BUSINESS " MAN " OF THE BROKERAGE FIRM.--EXTRACTS FROM HER WRITINGS. --HER POWER AS A CLAIRVOYANT, AND A REMARKABLE TEST OF IT.
We propose to say but little of Miss Tennie C. Claflin, as she has not figured very prominently in connection with the charges. Nevertheless her life has been so intimately entwined with that of Victoria, that an attachment has grown up between them that is lasting. In Mr. Tilton's Life of Woodhull, Tennie's career is sketched, but we will give a few facts regarding her in this chapter. In her youth she was a clairvoyant and so-called medium, as was also her sisters Victoria and Mary (Mrs. Dr. Spar). Tennie is about twenty-nine years of age, is quite handsome, compared with the other sisters, and is rather below medium height, and while she is not stout, she has a plump, well-rounded form, and in both form and features singularly free from anything approximating to angularities; her complexion is light, almost to paleness; and her skin is fair as that of an infant; hair, light brown, worn short, and inclined to curl; eyes blue, sparkling, and very expressive. When engaged in conversation upon any topic which interests her, she is all animation; talking not only with her tongue, but with eyes, face, hands, and all over; and one would think her whole physical structure was inlaid with a thousand sensitive spiral springs. She is all nerve and vivacity; full of magnetism and excitability, very free in her modes of expression, and seemingly never stops to think how any sentence is going to sound to another, or that by her careless freedom she is liable to be misapprehended, and notwithstanding she has since her girlhood been much around the world, and has mingled largely and freely with men of the world, she will say and do the most outre things, but with an air of the most childlike and unsophisticated innocence.
"Her face" says a writer, " does not wear the sad expression of her sister, nor is it like hers sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought." We should judge that as a broker she would be of more service to the firm as a drummer up of business, and in entertaining patrons, than in attending to details which require patience and consecutive thought, and that as one of the late stock brokerage firm of Woodhull & Claflin, Tennie was the Jim Fisk and Victoria the Jay Gould; and as publishers of the Weekly Victoria's sphere was the editorial sanctum and Tennie's that of outside business man! to get subscribers and secure paying advertisements. Like her sister she is an ardent spiritualist, and sees visions, and dreams dreams; both developing a strong hereditary superstition of this peculiar form. Tennie sometimes is heard upon the platform as a speaker, and while quite as enthusiastic as her sister, is not as argumentative or effective. She also wields a ready pen, and has issued quite a large book under the title of "Constitutional Equality of the Sexes." She has also written more or less for the Weekly, and has given to the public through its columns free utterance to her free social theories; her strongest points however are made on the subject of the social equality or the sexes--maintaining that if the woman who violates the laws of social purity is ostracised by society, her male partner in guilt should suffer the same penalty, or if the libertine and seducer be received into, and petted by society, his female victim be equally well received--that if female chastity be the condition of social recognition, the same condition be inexorably required of the man; that if Hester Pryne be compelled to wear the "scarlet letter" in the market place, her reverend seducer shall stand by her side, wearing the same red insignia of shame; or to use an old and trite maxim, "Sauce for goose, sauce for gander."
While it is not our intention to give endorsement in any manner to the peculiar views of Miss Claflin, we will make some extracts from her published writings that the reader may see the advanced views on social questions:
"Whatever may be your ideas as to whether individuals should, or should not, be permitted to think upon social freedom, and to advocate their views regarding it, none of you will, I dare say, presume to deny my sister and myself the right to advocate whatever religious views we may hold; and I further presume you will not object to our changing those views (at any time) according to any new light that may shine upon us."
"Herein, I shall not hesitate to say that in religion we are most thorough, and I trust devout spiritualists; and that whether we are deceived, insane, or whatever else may be conceived of, all our movements are largely the result of spirit influence, and often of positive direction. And we are proud to proclaim at all times and in all places that we yield willing obedience to all such requirements, because through a long series of years we have learned from frequent trial to trust them."
"We know, as well as any of you know what you are engaged in, that we are engaged in introducing new social views to the notice, and for the consideration of the general public; and that these views look to radical and sweeping changes in the present system, which everybody knows must be changed before anything like the millennium, in which all Christians pretend to believe, can be realized. Step by step we have been led on, from one thing to another, sometimes ourselves even, fearing the results which might come, but ever being justified by what has come, until we now stand on the very brink of what we know, is to be a social earthquake. What this earthquake may destroy, who may be swallowed up in its yawning chasm, or whether we ourselves may be swept away, we do not know; but that great good to the human family will come of it, we feel assured. Our course has not always brought us peace, happiness and comfort; on the contrary we have suffered almost all the terrors to which human life is subject. Even now we stand under two criminal indictments, upon both of which, if present public opinion, under the manipulations of the church and press, could have its way, whether according to law we are, or are not guilty, we should be so adjudged yet we rely upon truth as against all other powers that may be conjured up to oppose it, and we know that it shall triumph, even if we are crushed in the process."
"You must remember that many, if not most of you, today worship One, who in doing His duty to His Father, died upon the cross. None of you imagine that it was a pleasant duty he performed in thus yielding up His life. He did not live selfishly for Himself, as I fear most of those who profess Him so loudly, live for themselves. He was despised of the authorities in government, in philosophy and in religion. His associates were Magdalens, sinners and lowly fishermen; and yet you now exalt Him to the throne of the Universe, and pretend weekly at least, to bow in homage before His shrine."
"I would not have it understood from this reference that my sister and I presume to place ourselves as Christs of the present generation. On the contrary we wish it to be distinctly understood, that we lay claim to nothing, except this: that without fear or favor, we do what we believe to be right to do; that we live the life which is the best we can live, and which we are willing the whole world shall know, and that we obey the directions of those whom we know to be wiser than we are. Again I say you may credit us with insanity, if you will; but I pray you, along with it, to also give us credit for honesty of purpose."
"It has been freely circulated through the press, that we are simply notoriety seekers. Now let me ask you to consider calmly for a moment the probabilities of such a thing. Do people usually invoke upon themselves continuous persecution, merely to obtain notoriety? Do they consciously invoke the terrible power of the press to crush them, to brand them before the world by every vile and detestable epithet known to language; do they seek the hoots and jeers of the common multitudes, and the sneers, and upturned noses of the select few wherever they go; do they purposely, render themselves friendless, and homeless and distressed in all possible and conceivable ways merely to become simply notorious? Nay, my friends! none of you can honestly say you believe this. It requires stern convictions of duty; unflinching allegiance to purposes; undying devotion to principles, and an unswerving faith to enable any one, and especially frail women, to endure unto the end under all these trials."
"If one half that had been charged against us, had even a shadow of foundation in fact, we should have been long ere this, and justly too, in the Penitentiary."
"Early in this course, which has been marked out to us, we sometimes almost fainted by the way-side. It was almost a greater sorrow than we could endure, to see the whole public press teeming with the most outrageous and debasing items about us. Every woman knows what it requires to endure even the shadow of a reflection upon her private social life, to say nothing about sweeping charges, destroying in the minds of those, who from them alone, gather their information, and form their conclusions, every sentiment of respect, and making room for utter detestation and hate?"
"It has been said that we are utterly insensible to these things; but if the public knew what it has cost us in sleepless nights, ill heart-aches and laceration of soul, to be able to perform our duties, under the heavy hand, that has at times been laid upon us, you would wonder, not that we have maintained ourselves, but that we could ever presume to think of living at all."
"There are thousands upon thousands in this country, who hate us with the most inveterate hatred; who think us the personification of every thing that is bad, who honestly believe that no fate could be too cruel for us to endure, and yet not one of these people, of their own knowledge, know a single fact to justify their convictions."
"Man proposes, but God disposes; and we are very willing to act our part as best we may, and trust the rest to Him who 'maketh even the wrath of man to praise Him.' We have cast ourselves into the gap broken in social despotism, and there we shall stand firmly and proudly, until the war shall be ended and the victory secured, even if it brings death to us. And I say here and now: We shall be justified!"
"Thus through storm and sunshine alike, we have steadfastly pursued our way, halting at nothing, but shoulder to shoulder, battling together, for what we believe to be the right and the truth."
Miss Claflin was once married, but secured a divorce. For several years she lived in the West and followed, under the name of Tennessee Claflin, the calling of clairvoyant and medium, and the files of the Cincinnati papers in 1864 will exhibit her card. The author has never placed any faith in the powers of clairvoyants; but there is certainly possessed by this young woman some power of sightseeing that he cannot explain, and he proposes to give an instance of it here. After the battle of Resacca, Ga., in 1864, while examining the deserted rebel works, the author was shot in the foot by a concealed rebel, who had remained hid in the woods and desired to test his musket before surrendering to the "Yanks." He went back to Cincinnati to recuperate from the wound. While at the hotel he became restless and wearied by confinement, and asked the clerk where he could go to pass an hour pleasantly. A visit to Tennessee Claflin, the seeress, was recommended. Calling a coach he was soon put down at her door and "hobbled in on crutches." After receiving her fee, the fair seeress told him much in his past life that he knew to be true and only known to himself; but the most remarkable statement was this: "Why, Captain," said she, "you were not wounded in battle." "How then did I receive it?" he asked in great astonishment. "When the rebels evacuated their works and the Federal army moved forward in pursuit, you lingered behind to look at the works and was shot by a rebel concealed in a tree." The author was thunderstruck. This woman at Cincinnati, two weeks after the battle, had correctly described an event certainly only known to him and the concealed rebel who drew his "bead" upon him that morning. This is mentioned here merely as proof that the woman has some means of "guessing" correctly. The author has never spoken to her since that day in 1864, but has frequently seen her in the metropolis dodging into brokers' offices and newspaper sanctuaries, and discovered in that vivacious little creature "Tennessee Claflin, the Cincinnati Clairvoyant."