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This essential volume brings together more than forty of the most important historical writings on feminism, covering 150 years of the struggle for women’s freedom. Spanning the American Revolution to the first decades of the twentieth century, these works—many long out of print or forgotten—are finally brought out of obscurity and into the light of contemporary analysis and criticism. This richly diverse collection contains excerpts from books, essays, speeches, documents, and letters, as well as poetry, drama, and fiction by major feminist writers, including: Elizabeth Cady Stanton, George Sand, Mary Wollstonecraft, Abigail Adams, Emma Goldman, Friedrich Engels, Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, John Stuart Mill, Margaret Sanger, Virginia Woolf, and many others. The pieces in Feminism: The Essential Historical Writings cover the crucial challenges faced by women, including marriage as an instrument of oppression; a woman's desire to control her own body; the economic independence of women; and the search for selfhood, and extensive commentaries by the editor help the reader see the historical context of each selection.