The point I wish plainly to bring before you on this occasion is the individuality of each human soul—our Protestant idea, the right of individual conscience and judgment—our republican idea, individual citizenship. In discussing the rights of woman, we are to consider, first, what belongs to her as an individual, in a world of her own, the arbiter of her own destiny, an imaginary Robinson Crusoe with her woman Friday on a solitary island. Her rights under such circumstances are to use all her faculties for her own safety and happiness.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815–1902), U.S. suffragist, social reformer, and author. The Solitude of Self (February 20, 1894).
These are the opening lines of a famous speech delivered before a Senate committee which was considering arguments in favor of woman suffrage. Printed in the Congressional Record and reprinted in the Women's Tribune, the speech was remarkable for its refusal to engage the usual practical and democratic pro- suffrage arguments. Also speaking on this occasion were three of Stanton's best-known sister suffragists: Susan B. Anthony (1820- 1906), Lucy Stone (1818-1893), and Isabella Beecher Hooker (1822- 1907).