Elizabeth Cady Stanton's "The Solitude of Self" is a philosophical statement of the principles underlying the nineteenth century struggle for woman's rights in the United States. Its lyric structure and tone of the speech and its tragic, existential rationale for feminism. The eloquent speech grounds rights in the chance life events and the corporeal permanence of human isolation. From the speech:
"Whatever may be said of man’s protecting power in ordinary conditions, mid all the terrible disasters by land and sea, in the supreme moments of danger, alone, woman must ever meet the horrors of the situation; the Angel of Death even makes no royal pathway for her. Man’s love and sympathy enter only into the sunshine of our lives. In that solemn solitude of self, that links us with the immeasurable and the eternal, each soul lives alone forever."
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About the Author
On January 18, 1892, approximately ten years before she died, Stanton joined Anthony, Stone, and Isabella Beecher Hooker to address the issue of suffrage before the United States House Committee on the Judiciary. After nearly five decades of fighting for female suffrage and women's rights, it was Elizabeth Cady Stanton's final appearance before members of the United States Congress. Using the text of what became The Solitude of Self, she spoke of the central value of the individual, noting that value was not based on gender. As with the Declaration of Sentiments she had penned some 45 years earlier, Stanton's statement expressed not only the need for women's voting rights in particular, but the need for a revamped understanding of women's position in society and even of women in general.