The speaker of “Freedom or Death” is the British voting rights activist Emmeline Pankhurst.
Pankhurst founded the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) in 1903, after the death of her husband. The organisation’s main purpose was to obtain voting rights for women in Britain. To support this cause, Pankhurst proposed not only peaceful marches but also boycott activities and violent actions against the British government. This is why the speaker describes herself as a soldier:
I am here as a soldier who has temporarily left the field of battle in order to explain - it seems strange it should have to be explained - what civil war is like when civil war is waged by women.
At the same time, the speaker gives credit to the American Women’s Movement and claims she is not there to promote women’s suffrage in the US: “…I am not here to advocate woman suffrage. American suffragists can do that very well for themselves.”
Because of her actions as a leader of the Women’s Suffrage Movement in Britain, the speaker was imprisoned several times, something which she also mentions in her speech. Furthermore, when she went touring in the US to...