In 1892, Elizabeth Cady Stanton retired as the president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). Susan B. Anthony took over as president.
Before stepping down, Stanton delivers one final speech to Congress asking them to consider adding women’s suffrage as a 16th Amendment to the Constitution. The “Solitude of Self” speech delivered on January 18, 1892, is regarded as one of the best speeches that Stanton ever wrote. It eloquently lays out the case not just for women’s suffrage but for every human being to have the right of self-sovereignty. Link to entire speech listed in sources. Here are some key passages.
“The strongest reason for giving woman all the opportunities for higher education, for the full development of her faculties, forces of mind and body; for giving her the most enlarged freedom of thought and action; a complete emancipation from all forms of bondage, of custom, dependence, superstition; from all the crippling influences of fear, is the solitude and personal responsibility of her own individual life. The strongest reason why we ask for woman a voice in the government under which she lives; in the religion she is asked to believe; equality in social life, where she is the chief factor; a place in the trades and professions, where she may earn her bread, is because of her birthright to self-sovereignty; because, as an individual, she must rely on herself. No matter how much women prefer to lean, to be protected and supported, nor how much men desire to have them do so, they must make the voyage of life alone, and for safety in an emergency they must know something of the laws of navigation. To guide our own craft, we must be captain, pilot, engineer; with chart and compass to stand at the wheel; to match the wind and waves and know when to take in the sail, and to read the signs in the firmament over all. It matters not whether the solitary voyager is man or woman.…
...Whatever the theories may be of woman's dependence on man, in the supreme moments of her life he can not bear her burdens. Alone she goes to the gates of death to give life to every man that is born into the world. No one can share her fears, on one mitigate her pangs; and if her sorrow is greater than she can bear, alone she passes beyond the gates into the vast unknown…
... there is a solitude, which each and every one of us has always carried with him, more inaccessible than the ice-cold mountains, more profound than the midnight sea; the solitude of self...
...Such is individual life. Who, I ask you, can take, dare take, on himself the rights, the duties, the responsibilities of another human soul?”
This week’s song pick:
Fight Song by Rachel Platten (Black Butler anime fan compilation) https://youtu.be/aCoU1IX8CeQ
Episode 40 Sources: