This dissertation takes feminist appeals to the rights of man and the human as a critical site through which to examine the category of "woman" and its relationship to difference. Tracing how the claim for women's rights is articulated in the works of four cardinal figures in liberal feminism (Mary Wollstonecraft, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and Martha Nussbaum), this study suggests that the staging of "woman" as a sovereign, rights-bearing subject relies upon the twin concepts of race and civilization in order to constitute itself. In particular, the appeal for women's humanity is justified in the name of civilizational progress, a formulation that is predicated upon the difference of the savage--and thus race--to mark the contours of the (civilized) human. As such, the struggle to insert "woman" into the conceptual framework of natural rights emerges as inseparably bound up with the production and foreclosure of racial difference. Ending with the appeal for women's human rights that this strain of liberal feminism opens onto, this itinerary seeks to attend to the constitutive exclusions that have enabled the emergence of a universal feminist subject.