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Lucretia Coffin was born in Nantucket, Massachusetts, on 3rd January, 1793. At the age of thirteen Lucretia was sent to a boarding school run by the Society of Friends. She eventually became a teacher at the school. Her interest in women's rights began when she discovered that male teachers at the school were paid twice as much as the female staff.
In 1811 Lucretia married James Mott, another teacher at the school. Ten years later, she became a Quaker minister. Lucretia and her husband were both opposed to the slave trade and were active in the American Anti-Slavery Society.
In 1840, Mott and her friend, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, travelled to London as delegates to the World Anti-Slavery Convention. Both women were furious when they, like the British women at the convention, were refused permission to speak at the meeting. Stanton later recalled: "We resolved to hold a convention as soon as we returned home, and form a society to advocate the rights of women."
However, it was not until 1848 that Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton organised the Women's Rights Convention at Seneca Falls. Stanton's resolution that it was "the duty of the women of this country to secure to themselves the sacred right to the elective franchise" was passed, and this became the focus of the group's campaign over the next few years.
In 1866 Mott joined with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Lucy Stone to establish the American Equal Rights Association. The following year, the organisation became active in Kansas where Negro suffrage and woman suffrage were to be decided by popular vote.
Lucretia Mott, who remain active in the woman's rights movement into her seventies, died in Abington on 11th November, 1880.
Lucretia Mott, a woman, as I was told, renowned for her high character, her culture, and the zeal and ability with which she advocated various progressive movements. To her I had the good fortune to be introduced by a German friend. I thought her the most beautiful old lady I had ever seen. Her features were of exquisite fineness. Not one of the wrinkles with which age had marked her face, would one have wished away. Her dark eyes beamed with intelligence and benignity. She received me with gentle grace, and in the course of our conversation, she expressed the hope that, as a citizen, I would never be indifferent to the slavery question as, to her great grief, many people at the time seemed to be.
Feminism, like any other great movement, proceeds at varying paces and in varying forms in different countries. Few things are more enlightening than a study of the inter-reactions of the feminist movement in the two great English speaking peoples during the past seventy or eighty years. It is curious how closely related have been the movements on the two sides of the Atlantic. Each has continually learnt from the other. Beginning with Mary Wollstonecraft in the late 18th century, the feminist movement owed its next big impetus (in the eighteen forties and fifties) to Lucretia Mott and Susan B. Anthony, of New England. It was Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth C. Stanton who organised the first Equal Rights Convention which was held in New York in 1848; and it was Lucretia Mott who laid. down the definite proposition which American women are still struggling to implement today: 'Men and Women shall have Equal Rights throughout the United States.' A few years later Susan B. Anthony, the pioneer Suffragist, came into the American movement.
It was not till the eighteen sixties that the political feminist movement came alive in Great Britain. Dame Millicent Fawcett was even in those early days one of the leading names connected with it. The British suffragists pushed forward enthusiastically for some twenty years, but the failure to achieve success in 1885, when the third Reform Bill was passed giving the agricultural labourer the vote, seemed to take the heart out of our early suffragists, and the movement died down again. Meanwhile, in the nineties the American women were full of life and enthusiasm, winning victory after victory in State after State.'
In 1902 Susan B. Anthony came to England and stayed with Mrs. Pankhurst in Manchester. The result of that visit was far-reaching. All unwittingly the old pioneer handed back the torch to the British suffragists. 'It is unendurable,' declared Christabel Pankhurst after her departure, 'to think of another generation of women wasting their lives begging for the vote. We must not lose any more time. We must act.' Those words heralded the birth of the British militant movement. From that moment onwards British feminists went forward without pause till the outbreak of war in 1914 and when that time came (although the actual Bill was not passed until 1918) the first instalment of victory was virtually won.
Meanwhile in America by 1912 things had died down to very much the same state as the English movement has been in since 1918. Votes had been achieved in a considerable number of States, the feeling was widespread that a partial victory was good enough for the moment and that complete victory would ' come all in good time without much further trouble. And then in 1912 Alice Paul, lit by the fire of the English militant movement, returned to America - and America woke up. It took the Americans just eight years from that date to achieve complete political equality; but they were under wise leadership (Alice Paul will surely go down to history as one of the great leaders of the world), and when they did achieve political equality they did not make the mistake of supposing that that was the end. They turned back to the 'declaration of sentiments' laid down by Lucretia Mott in 1848 and they realised that political equality was only the first step on the path which they had chosen and that there could be neither halting nor relaxing their pace until they had come to the end of that path.
Biography of Lucretia Mott
Lucretia Mott, a Quaker reformer and minister, was an abolitionist and women's rights activist. She helped initiate the Seneca Falls Woman's Rights Convention with Elizabeth Cady Stanton in 1848. She believed in human equality as a right granted by God.
Lucretia Mott was born Lucretia Coffin on January 3, 1793. Her father was Thomas Coffin, a sea captain, and her mother was Anna Folger. Martha Coffin Wright was her sister.
She was raised in a Quaker (Society of Friends) community in Massachusetts, "thoroughly imbued with women's rights" (in her words). Her father was often away at sea, and she helped her mother with the boarding house when her father was gone. When she was thirteen, she started school, and when she finished at the school, she came back as an assistant teacher. She taught for four years, then moved to Philadelphia, returning home to her family.
She married James Mott, and after their first child died at age 5, became more involved in her Quaker religion. By 1818 she was serving as a minister. She and her husband followed Elias Hicks in the "Great Separation" of 1827, opposing the more evangelical and orthodox branch.
Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton met at the World’s Anti-Slavery Convention in London, where the two discussed the need for a convention about women’s rights. Mott and Stanton then became the primary organizers of the Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, New York in July 1848 – the first women’s rights meeting ever held in the United States.
Childhood and Early Years
Lucretia Coffin was born on January 3, 1793, to Quaker parents in the seaport town of Nantucket, Massachusetts. She was the second child of seven by Thomas Coffin and Anna Folger Coffin. In 1804, the Coffins moved to Boston, where Thomas was an international trader with warehouses and wharves. He bought a new brick house on Round Lane for $5600.
When she was 13, the Coffins sent Lucretia to the Nine Partners Quaker Boarding School in Dutchess County, New York, where she excelled. After graduating in 1808 she served as an assistant teacher at Nine Partners until 1810, without salary other than room and board and free tuition for her sister Eliza. Her interest in women’s rights began when she discovered that male teachers at the school were paid three times as much as the female staff.
There she met James Mott, a paid teacher at Nine Partners, son of Adam and Anne Mott. He was about 20 and was as reserved and quiet as Lucretia was vivacious and talkative. He was the tallest boy at the school and Lucretia was fairly short.
Thomas Coffin had sold his business in Boston and entered the cut nail manufacturing business with a relative at French Creek near Philadelphia. During that time he moved the family from Boston to Philadelphia, a city that was to be Lucretia’s home for the rest of her life.
Home and Family
James Mott also moved from New York to Philadelphia, perhaps to be near Lucretia, and was given a position in Thomas Coffin’s firm as a commission merchant. James and Lucretia were given parental consent to marry in the early spring of 1811. They were married at Pine Street Meeting House in Philadelphia on April 10, 1811. Between 1812 and 1828 Mott bore six children, five of whom lived to adulthood.
Following the War of 1812, the Coffins and Motts shared in the economic depression that followed the war and lived in a state of financial instability for several years. This caused Thomas to move temporarily to Ohio after his cut-nail business was sold to pay debts.
James and Lucretia went to New York where they helped Richard Mott at his cotton mill at Mamaroneck. This was not profitable so James and Lucretia moved to New York city where he worked as a bank clerk. Finally they moved back to Philadelphia. There in March 1817, Lucretia, now the mother of two small children, got a job as teacher at the Select School for girls. The birth of her third child, Maria, in 1818 brought her teaching career to a close.
Lucretia’s father died in 1815 of typhus and Anne Coffin (Lucretia’s mother) opened a store in Philadelphia which became successful. By 1824 she had given this up and was running a boarding house. James Mott engaged in cotton and wool wholesale trade (he later focused only on wool trading as a protest against the slavery-dependent cotton industry in the South). During the 1820s, Mott’s business prospered, allowing them to move into a home of their own.
Throughout their long marriage James Mott encouraged his wife in her many activities outside the home. The Quaker tradition enabled women to take public positions on a variety of social problems. She began to speak at Quaker meetings in 1818, and in 1821 she was recognized as a Quaker minister.
During the 1820s a rift formed between the stricter, more conservative Quakers and the tolerant, less orthodox followers of Elias Hicks (known as the Hicksites). In 1827 James and Lucretia followed the Hicksite branch which espoused free interpretation of the Bible and reliance on inward, as opposed to historic Christian, guidance.
As her children grew, Lucretia had more time to read and study the Bible, serious religious works and Mary Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Women, which she kept on the center table of her home for 40 years and could recite passages from memory. During the Quaker schism of 1827 the Motts united with the Hicksite faction, meeting temporarily at Carpenter’s Hall.
Like many Quakers, the Motts considered slavery an evil to be opposed. They refused to use cotton cloth, cane sugar and other slavery-produced goods. Lucretia began to speak publicly for the abolition cause, often traveling from her home in Philadelphia. Her sermons combined anti-slavery themes with broad calls for moral reform.
Lucretia first entertained William Lloyd Garrison at her home in 1830, during which he enlisted the Motts in the efforts to emancipate the slaves. A lifelong friendship stemmed from their initial meeting. Mott and her husband became deeply involved in the national abolitionist circle.
In December 1833, Garrison called a meeting to expand the New England Anti-Slavery Society. James Mott was a delegate at the Convention, but it was Lucretia who made a lasting impression on attendees. She tested the language of the Constitution and bolstered support when many delegates were precarious.
Days after the conclusion of the Convention, at the urging of other delegates, Mott founded the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society, which included both European American and African American members. Among other early members were Sarah Pugh, Mary Grew, Esther Moore, Sydney Ann Lewis and Lydia White.
Black women also joined including Sarah Mapps Douglass, Hattie Purvis, the Forten sisters and Lucretia’s daughters Anna Mott Hopper and Maria Mott Davis. The extensive participation of Blacks tightly bound the actions of the Society to the Philadelphia Black community. Lucretia often preached at Black parishes.
Lucretia Mott was quickly becoming the most widely known female abolitionist in America. Amidst social persecution by abolition opponents, Mott continued her work. She was praised for her ability to maintain her household while contributing to the cause. In the words of one editor, “She is proof that it is possible for a woman to widen her sphere without deserting it.”
Women’s political participation threatened social norms. Many involved in the abolitionist movement opposed public activities by women, which were infrequent in those years. Other people opposed women who preached to mixed crowds of men and women, whom they called promiscuous. None of this stopped Mott. She was one of the leaders in the Anti-Slavery Coalitions for American Women’s assembly held in New York on May 9-12, 1837.
Mob violence against abolitionists was common in Boston, New York and Philadelphia beginning in 1834. In 1838 funds were raised to build Pennsylvania Hall in Philadelphia to be the local abolitionist headquarters. This building was set on fire by a mob soon after its construction while a meeting was being held (Lucretia a speaker) and burned to the ground.
The rioters particularly objected to two things that were fairly novel in these meetings: mixing of the races on terms of equality and the prominence of women in both speaking at and running the meeting. The abolitionist movement was in some ways the beginning of the women’s rights movement in America.
In September 1839 Lucretia was a founding member of the Non-Resistant Society which was made up of abolitionists pledging not to return violence with violence, a concept contributed by William Lloyd Garrison. This was one of the first political organizations to accept men and women on equal terms in America.
Lucretia Mott was a delegate to the World Anti-Slavery Convention held June 12-17, 1840, in London. However, before the conference began the men voted to exclude women from participating. Lucretia and the other women delegates were refused seats, despite the protests of American men attending the convention. Women delegates were required to sit in a segregated area out of sight of the men. William Lloyd Garrison and several other men chose to sit with the excluded women.
During that meeting Lucretia met Elizabeth Cady Stanton, wife of American delegate Henry Stanton, who were on their honeymoon. Stanton was incensed that the women were barred from participation, and she and Lucretia quickly became friends.
Encouraged by active debates she attended in England and Scotland, Lucretia returned with new energy for the cause in the United States. She continued an active lecture schedule, with destinations including the major Northern cities of New York and Boston. For several weeks she traveled to slave-owning states, and gave speeches in Baltimore and Virginia.
She met with slave owners to discuss the morality of slavery. In the District of Columbia, Mott timed her lecture to coincide with the return of Congress from Christmas recess more than 40 Congressmen attended. She had a personal audience with President John Tyler who, impressed with her speech said, “I would like to hand Mr. Calhoun [a senator and abolition opponent] over to you.”
In 1844 Anne Coffin died in Lucretia’s home of influenza. During that same time Lucretia was also stricken with serious health problems: chronic dyspepsia, encephalitis and the same influenza that killed her mother her weight dropped to 92 pounds. For the next two years she was less active in public life.
A steady stream of callers appeared at their home, including Sojourner Truth, Sarah Douglass, Abby Kimber and Sarah Pugh as well as numerous relatives and friends. Out of town visitors included William Lloyd Garrison, Samuel May, John Quincy Adams, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Charles Dickens.
During the 1840s Lucretia was a founder of the Association for the Relief and Employment of Poor Women, a self-help group which made and sold garments, carpets and quilts. James Mott was able to retire from business, financially secure. Lucretia was now regarded as one of the leading radical reformers in America.
In her first major speech at the American Anti-Slavery Society in New York in 1848, Lucretia called for the immediate abolition of slavery. Hicksite Friends like Lucretia were attacked frequently by the Orthodox Friends over their beliefs and often felt called upon to defend them. She was a frequent speaker at local and yearly meetings.
During the 1850s debate in antislavery circles now centered on maintaining the Union of north and south versus the evils of slavery. Lucretia attempted to prevent the fragmenting of the movement by this tension. The Motts assisted runaway slaves who fled from Maryland and Delaware into Philadelphia throughout the 1850s. Their home at 338 Arch Street was a stop on the Underground Railroad.
Women’s Rights Activities
Mott’s commitment to freeing blacks deepened her awareness of the constraints society placed on women. Lucretia Mott, Martha Wright (Lucretia’s sister) and Elizabeth Cady Stanton were the main organizers of the first Women’s Rights Convention, which was held July 19-20, 1848, at Seneca Falls, New York – Stanton’s hometown. This was the first public women’s rights meeting in the United States.
James Mott chaired this convention and Lucretia gave the opening address. Stanton read the Declaration of Sentiments which is based on the Declaration of Independence. Resolutions listed on the document included efforts to secure better education, demolish the barriers to women in industry, the clergy and the professions of law and medicine, nullify laws restricting women’s property rights and support of woman’s suffrage. All of the resolutions in the declaration except the one demanding the vote passed unanimously.
Lucretia Mott also gave the closing remarks at the convention. She had been one of those reluctant to propose the right to vote for women and was also reluctant to have a woman as head of the organization, probably for practical reasons as she certainly believed women should vote. Since Lucretia was the best known of the early women’s rights advocates she now became the whipping-girl of editorialists who opposed her.
In 1850, James and Lucretia Mott were involved in the founding of the Female Medical College of Pennsylvania, the first medical school in the world to provide medical education exclusively for women. In 1850, Lucretia wrote Discourse on Woman, a book about restrictions on women in the United States, and became more widely known as a result.
In 1857, Lucretia and her family left Philadelphia and moved to Roadside in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, near her daughter and son-in-law. A primary reason for moving was Lucretia’s poor health. She still went to Philadelphia to attend meetings and she spent a lot of time reading. On April 10, 1861 – Lucretia and James celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary the day before the fall of Fort Sumter.
Lucretia Mott upheld her pacifist Quaker beliefs during the Civil War, but many Quakers chose to fight, including members of her own family. Her son in law’s near-by property was leased by the Union Army as a training ground for African American soldiers it was called Camp William Penn. Lucretia assisted them in their preparations until they left to fight in the South.
During the war, she raised money and clothes for those freed from slavery. After President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was passed in 1863, abolitionists were seen as heroes, and Lucretia was universally admired. The 13th amendment to the Constitution in 1865 officially freed the slaves, and she began to advocate giving Black Americans the right to vote.
After the Civil War, Lucretia joined with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony and Lucy Stone to establish the American Equal Rights Association. In 1866 she attended the Equal Rights Convention in New York where Stanton was elected its first President but declined so that Lucretia could be President. After her term was over in 1870, the organization split in two and Lucretia was unable to reunite them – on one side was Stanton and Susan B. Anthony and on the other was Lucy Stone, Mary Livermore and Julia Ward Howe.
James Mott died on April 26, 1868, while visiting his daughter Martha in Brooklyn. Despite her grief over the loss of her greatest supporter, Lucretia carried on the struggle for equal rights for all people. She joined the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA), formed in 1869.
On the centennial of American independence, leaders of the NWSA renewed their call for women’s equality with their 1876 Declaration and Protest of the Women of the United States. The document called for impeachment of United States leaders on the grounds that they taxed women without representation and denied women trial by a jury of her peers.
Lucretia continued to work for voting rights for African Americans and equal rights for women, giving at least 40 speeches between 1870 and 1880. In July 1876 she presided at the National Woman Suffrage Association in Philadelphia. The peace movement was also a prime concern during her last ten years. In 1878 Lucretia delivered her last public address in Rochester, New York, where women’s rights advocates celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention. Her last public appearance was in April 1880 at the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting.
Lucretia Coffin Mott died of pneumonia on November 11, 1880, at her home in Roadside at age 87. She was buried in the Quaker Fairhill Burial Ground in North Philadelphia.
Image: Memorial of Women’s Rights Leaders
This portrait monument features portrait busts of the leaders of the woman suffrage movement (left to right): Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony and Lucretia Mott. The uncarved portion behind the busts represents all past, present and future women leaders. It was presented to Congress by the National Woman’s Party as a gift to the nation on February, 15, 1921, and placed in the Rotunda Hall of the United States Capitol. After one day the statue was moved to the basement. Finally, after 76 years, the monument was returned to Rotunda Hall over Mother’s Day weekend, May 10-12, 1997.
Though women did not win the right to vote until 1920, forty years after Lucretia Mott’s death, she lived to see fulfillment of several demands set forth in the Declaration of Sentiments. By 1880, for example, most states granted a woman the right to hold property independent of her husband and several state and private colleges admitted women, including co-ed Swarthmore College, which Lucretia Mott helped to establish.
Final Years and Death
While keeping up her commitment to women&aposs rights, Mott also maintained the full routine of a mother and housewife, and continued after the Civil War to work for advocating the rights of African Americans. She helped to found Swarthmore College in 1864, continued to attend women&aposs rights conventions, and when the movement split into two factions in 1869, she tried to bring the two together.
Mott died on November 11, 1880, in Chelton Hills (now part of Philadelphia), Pennsylvania.
1793 – 1880
Lucretia Mott, an American reformer, born at Nantucket, MA, and educated in the Friends’ School near Poughkeepsie, NY, where she met James Mott, whom she married.
She soon became prominent as a preacher in the Society of Friends and was chosen a minister. Later she became an ardent advocate of emancipation, and helped to organize the Female Anti-Slavery Society, of which she became leader. As the feeling against abolitionists grew in intensity, many more timid Quakers began to deprecate any discussion of slavery by one of their ministers, and Mrs. Mott was regarded with suspicion and dislike.
In 1840, at the World’s Anti-Slavery Convention in London, to which both James and Lucretia Mott had been chosen delegates, the question of the equal participation of women in the proceedings of the convention came up, and after some discussion all women were excluded. This action led Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton to first discuss the women’s rights movement which they launched eight years later at a convention in Seneca Falls, NY., called “to discuss the social, civil and religious condition and rights of women” and when a “Declaration of Sentiments” was passed, modelled [sic] on the Declaration of Independence.
But abolition and women’s rights, while they received the greater share of Mrs. Mott’s attention, were not the only movements in which she was interested, for all that promised to uplift humanity or to break the fetters of ignorance and tradition received her warmest support.
Almost to the end of her long life of eighty-seven years, she made frequent journeys to visit distant meetings or to attend conventions called to consider the elevation of woman, the promotion of temperance, and the establishment of universal peace.
Lucretia Mott was a Unitarian Quaker, a woman of high moral character and uncommon intelligence, and a noble worker in the cause of human progress.
Reference: Famous Women An Outline of Feminine Achievement Through the Ages With Life Stories of Five Hundred Noted Women By Joseph Adelman. Copyright, 1926 by Ellis M. Lonow Company.
Lucretia Coffin Mott was a nineteenth century Quaker minister and reformer. She is well known for her work in moral reform including temperance and abolition. She is best known, however, for her work in the Women’s Rights Movement of her day and especially for her work in organizing the first Women’s Rights Convention in New York State in 1848.
Lucretia Coffin was born in 1793 on the island of Nantucket Massachusetts and her parents were of noble Quaker stock. Early on she was impressed by her mother’s active role in the community and church congregation, or Society as Quakers called it, to which they belonged. As a rule, Quakers believed in the equality of all people, no matter what the race or the sex, which made them very active in moral reform, including abolition and women’s rights. The Mott family moved to Boston in 1804 and Lucretia was sent to a Quaker boarding school in Poughkeepsie, New York. Lucretia was well educated and went on to teach in that same school at the age of fifteen.
In 1809 she moved to Philadelphia with her family where she married James Mott, a fellow teacher at the Poughkeepsie school who had recently joined her father’s hardware company. They were a fine match and their marriage has been spoken of as one of the most perfect the world has ever seen.
In 1821, Lucretia became a Quaker minister, noted for her intellectual ability, sweetness of disposition, and speaking ability. In 1827 she and
James changed their religious affiliation to that of the Hicksite Quakers, a more liberal branch of the Society of Friends and became deeply involved in the abolitionist movement. She soon became known for her persuasive speeches against slavery. Like many Hicksites, she refused to use cotton cloth, cane sugar, and other products produced by slaves. In 1833, Lucretia helped form the American Anti-Slavery Society and the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society. In 1937 she helped organize the Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women. With the support of her husband, the Mott’s frequently sheltered runaway slaves. While she was active in her role as a minister and in the cause of abolition, she was always first a wife, mother, and homemaker.
In 1840, Lucretia was sent with other women as delegates to the World’s Anti-Slavery Convention in London. The men in charge of the meeting, however, were opposed to public speaking and action by women and refused to seat the women delegates. This was an outrage to Lucretia and other women. It was here, while seated in the segregated women’s section at these meetings, that she met Elizabeth Cady Stanton and their conversations at this meeting are often credited as being the stimuli for the first Women’s Rights Convention to be held eight years later (Adelman, Famous Women, p. 167).
In 1848, Mott and Stanton called the first Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, N.Y., where Elizabeth lived. It was here that the Women’s Rights Movement was born. After this first convention, Lucretia became increasingly dedicated to women’s rights and began to speak widely for it.
Lucretia Mott was a social reformer and a philanthropist. She was a woman of modesty and courage, gentleness and force, with a sharp intellect and a great heart. She worked quietly but mightily for God and humanity.
Lucretia MottLucretia Mott by Joseph Kyle, 1842. Collections of Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.
One of eight children born to Quaker parents on the island of Nantucket, Massachusetts, Lucretia Coffin Mott dedicated her life to the goal of human equality. As a child, Mott attended Nine Partners, a Quaker boarding school located in New York. At school, she learned of the horrors of slavery from her readings and from visiting lecturers such as Elias Hicks, a well-known Quaker abolitionist. She also saw that women and men were not treated equally, even among the Quakers, when she discovered that women teaching at Nine Partners earned less than the men. At a young age Lucretia Coffin Mott became determined to put an end to such social injustices.
In 1833 Mott, along with Mary Ann M’Clintock and nearly 30 other abolitionist women, organized the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society. She later served as a delegate from that organization to the 1840 World Anti-Slavery Convention in London. It was there that she first met Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who was attending the convention with her husband Henry, a delegate from New York. Mott and Stanton were indignant at the fact that women were excluded from participating in the convention simply because of their gender, and that indignation would result in a discussion about holding a woman’s rights convention. Stanton later recalled this conversation in the History of Woman Suffrage:
As Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton wended their way arm in arm down Great Queen Street that night, reviewing the exciting scenes of the day. Together, they agreed to hold a woman’s rights convention on their return to America.
Eight years later, on July 19 and 20, 1848, Mott, Stanton, Mary Ann M’Clintock, Martha Coffin Wright, and Jane Hunt acted on this idea when they organized the First Woman’s Rights Convention. It was held in the Wesleyan Chapel, now part of Women’s Rights National Historical Park.
Throughout her life Mott remained active in both the abolition and women’s rights movements. She continued to speak out against slavery, and in 1866 she became the first president of the American Equal Rights Association, an organization formed to achieve equality for African Americans and women.
Lucretia Mott died of pneumonia at her home in Cheltenham, Pennsylvania on November 11, 1880. She is buried in the Fair Hill Burial Ground, a Quaker cemetery in Philadelphia.
 The Nine Partners Boarding School was affiliated with the nearby Nine Partners Meeting House and Cemetery. Their meeting house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on April 27, 1989.
 You can read more about the connection between African American voting rights and women’s voting rights in “Suffrage In America.”
 The Fair Hill Burial Ground was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on August 7, 1998.
Seneca Falls Convention
On her trip to England, Mott became acquainted with Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815–1902), who would soon become one of the leaders in the women's rights movement in America. In letters exchanged after the London convention, Mott and Stanton discussed organizing their cause. Finally, in the summer of 1848, Mott met with Stanton at Seneca Falls, New York. The two women and a couple of friends organized the Seneca Falls Women's Rights Convention , a meeting dedicated to promoting the equal rights of women. Mott agreed to be the principal speaker.
The organizers arrived at the Seneca Falls Unitarian church carrying their declaration of rights, resolutions, and volumes of the statutes of New York State. They patterned their central document after the Declaration of Independence , calling it the Declaration of Sentiments. Demanding that the rights in the Declaration of Independence apply to women as well as to men, they reworded their document to read “that all men and women are created equal.”
The declaration was followed by a list of resolutions, demanding that women be allowed to speak in public be accorded equal treatment under the law receive equal education, equal access to trades and professions, and equality in marriage have the right to sue and be sued and to testify in court and to have guardianship over children. It also demanded, at the insistence of Stanton, that women be granted the right to vote (suffrage), a highly controversial point at the time. Mott did not want to address women's suffrage rights on the grounds that the nation was not ready to accept it and would make a mockery of their cause.
The American public did recoil from the idea of women's rights. Groups formed with the sole purpose of preventing women from speaking in public at what the newspapers called “hen conventions.” Many arguments followed about what God had intended for women and what would become of civilization if women rose to equal status with men. When Mott spoke in public, called a convention, or discussed affairs of state, a large proportion of the American public regarded it as a violation of the laws of nature. But public interest in the women's movement rose with the social unrest preceding the American Civil War (1861–65).
Mott, Lucretia Coffin
Introduction: With a supportive Quaker community, husband and family Lucretia Mott was able to combine her work on behalf of women’s rights and the abolition of slavery. A strong advocate on both issues, she was confident in her beliefs that both issues could co-exist.
Lucretia Mott (nee Coffin) was born into a Quaker family in Nantucket, Massachusetts. At 13, her parents sent her to Nine Partners Quaker Boarding School in New York. After graduation she stayed on to teach there. It was while teaching that she got an early taste of gender discrimination. She discovered that she and the other women staff were being paid significantly less than their male counterparts.
Lucretia married James Mott, another teacher at Nine Partners, in 1811. They had six children together, five of whom lived to adulthood. Lucretia, her husband and all of their living children were opposed to the slave trade and actively participated in the anti-slavery and other social reform movements. Mott’s and other women’s participation in anti-slavery activities flew in the face of the social norms of the day, being Quakers, she benefited from a more liberal treatment of women than her female peers did not enjoy.
Their community did not frown upon women participating in the public eye. In fact, her husband encouraged her to fully participate in activities outside of the home.
In 1821, Mott became a Quaker minister with her husband’s support. Through her sermons she was able to freely express her anti-slavery sentiments as well as the beliefs of the Quakers. Mott was known for her ability to support the efforts of the anti-slavery movement through speeches and fundraising while also effectively managing her household.
Helping to Claim the Place of Women in the Anti-Slavery Movement
When her husband co-founded the American Anti-Slavery Society with William Lloyd Garrison, Mott remained an active supporter and speaker for abolition and later, in partnership with a racially diverse group of women, founded the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society. A racially integrated organization from the start, it stood against racism and slavery and developed close ties to the African American community in Philadelphia. Mott participated in all three of the national Anti-Slavery Conventions of American Women in 1837 through 1839 despite the fact that in 1838 a mob destroyed the meeting place. The mob later targeted her home and African American neighborhoods and institutions.
In June, 1840 Mott traveled to London, England to participate in the World’s Anti-Slavery Convention. Despite her status in the U.S. and her well known commitment to the cause, the male delegates voted to exclude Mott and the other seven female delegates from participating and relegated them to a separate seating area. In protest of the decision, William Lloyd Garrison, Wendell Phillips and African American activist Charles Lenox Redmond sat with the women in the segregated section. When Mott returned following the convention in London, she was reinvigorated. She continued to lecture publicly in the north as well as in slave-owning states like Maryland and Virginia. By scheduling her lecture in the District of Columbia to align with Congress’s return from recess, she spoke to an audience including 40 Congressmen. Mott not only returned from London with renewed energy for the anti-slavery cause but also with a new friendship with Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The two women were connected by their ideals which resulted in them organizing the Seneca Falls woman’s rights convention in 1848. This convention has the distinction of being the first public woman’s rights meeting in the United States and produced The Declaration of Sentiments, a document based upon the Declaration of Independence, in which the numerous demands of these early activists were elucidated.
Mott was elected as the first president of the American Equal Rights Association, which was committed to universal suffrage, but she resigned when Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony took the organization in a controversial direction. Additionally, Mott was involved with other organizations whose focus was anti-slavery such as the American Free Produce Association, the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society, the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society, and the American Anti-Slavery Society. A pacifist, Mott also attended meetings of the New England Non-Resistance Society. Following the Civil War, she became even more devoted to anti-war activities and was an outspoken member of the Universal Peace Union. She was also the founder and president of the Northern Association for the Relief and Employment of Poor Women in Philadelphia.
Lucretia Mott was an advocate for women’s rights and anti-slavery into her seventies. She died of pneumonia in November of 1880. She and other suffragists were memorialized by Adelaide Johnson in a sculpture that stands in the U.S. Capitol.
For further reading:
Copies of Lucretia Mott’s Letters to Elizabeth Cady Stanton and other information about her life can be found on the Lucretia Coffin Mott Project here:
Brown, I. V. (1978). Cradle of Feminism: The Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society, 1833-1840. The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 102(2), 143-166. Retrieved from www.jstor.org/stable/20091253
DuBois, E. (1998). Woman suffrage and women’s rights. New York, NY: NYU Press. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com
Female Anti-Slavery Society. (n.d.). Seal of the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society [Printed Matter]. Pennsylvania Abolition Society papers, Digital Library, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Retrieved from https://digitallibrary.hsp.org/index.php/Detail/objects/1525
Gutekunst, F. (ca. 1870-1880) Lucretia Mott [Photograph]. Women of Protest: Photographs from the Records of the National Woman’s Party, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Retrieved from https://www.loc.gov/item/mnwp000037/
Marsico, K. (2008). Lucretia Mott. S. M. Hamilton (Ed.). Edina, MN: ABDO Publishing Company.