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  • [Reformers] might be classified as a distinct species having eyes in the back of their heads.

  • One of the persistent ironies of reform is the impossibility of predicting the full consequences of change ...

  • A reform often advances most rapidly by indirection.

  • The history of the reformer, whether man or woman, on any line of action, is but this: When he sees it all alone he is a fanatic; when a good many see it with him they are enthusiasts; when all see it he is a hero.

  • In spite of the laughing at them, the world would never get on without reformers.

  • Agitate! Agitate! ought to be the motto of every reformer. Agitation is the opposite of stagnation — the one is life, the other death.

    • Ernestine L. Rose,
    • c. 1854, in Annie Laurie Gaylor, ed., Women Without Superstition "No Gods -- No Masters": The Collected Writings of Women Freethinkers of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries ()
  • ... a sick society, unlike a sick individual, fares best under the ministration of many doctors.

  • ... reformers must expect to be disowned by those who are only too happy to enjoy what has been won for them.

  • It takes six simpletons and one zealot to start a movement.

  • We were good reformers, but we weren't good enough. We elected a candidate and then, busy with our own affairs, we left him hanging in mid-air. Reformers are such part-time pillars of society!

  • I am for keeping the thing going while things are stirring. Because if we wait till it is still, it will take a great while to get it going again.

    • Sojourner Truth,
    • speech, American Equal Rights Association Convention ()
  • Every reformation ruins somebody.

  • ... all reform movements are slow in their beginnings. They are like the avalanche, which creeps on so gently at first, that its onward course is almost imperceptible, but gathering strength and velocity as it proceeds, it rushes on, bearing before it all that men have deemed most stable and immovable.