“I went straight from Houston to New York over the Iron Mountain Railroad. I anticipated a rather solitary trip; but, fortunately, I met General Baird, whom I knew, and some other Army officers, who had been down on the Mexican border to settle some troubles in the ‘free zone.’ We amused ourselves on the long journey with whist and woman suffrage discussions. We noticed a dyspeptic-looking clergyman, evidently of a bilious temperament, eyeing us very steadily and disapprovingly the first day, and in a quiet way we warned each other that, in due time, he would give us a sermon on the sin of card playing.
“Sitting alone, early next morning, he seated himself by my side, and asked me if I would allow him to express his opinion on card playing. I said, ‘Oh, yes! I fully believe in free speech.’
“‘Well,’ said he, ‘I never touch cards. I think they are an invention of the devil to lead unwary souls from all serious thought of the stern duties of life and the realities of eternity! I was sorry to see you, with your white hair, probably near the end of your earthly career, playing cards and talking with those reckless army officers, who delight in killing their fellow beings. No! I do not believe in war or card playing; such things do not prepare the soul for heaven.’
“‘Well,’ said I, ‘you are quite right, with your views, to abjure the society of army officers and all games of cards. You, no doubt, enjoy your own thoughts and the book you are reading more than you would the conversation of those gentlemen and a game of whist. We must regulate our conduct by our highest ideal. While I deplore the necessity of war, yet I know in our army many of the noblest types of manhood, whose acquaintance I prize most highly. I enjoy all games, too, from chess down to dominoes. There is so much that is sad and stern in life that we need sometimes to lay down its burdens and indulge in innocent amusements. Thus, you see, what is wise from my standpoint is unwise from yours. I am sorry that you repudiate all amusements, as they contribute to the health of body and soul. You are sorry that I do not think as you do, and regulate my life accordingly. You are sure you are right. I am equally sure that I am. Hence there is nothing to be done in either case but to let each other alone, and wait for the slow process of evolution to give to each of us a higher standard.’
“Just then one of the officers asked me if I was ready for a game of whist, and I excused myself from further discussion. I met many of these dolorous saints in my travels, who spent so much thought on eternity and saving their souls that they lost all the joys of time, as well as those sweet virtues of courtesy and charity that might best fit them for good works on earth and happiness in heaven.”
– Elizabeth Cady Stanton, circa 1873, in Elizabeth Cady Stanton: As Revealed in Her Letters, Diary and Reminiscences (1898)