Lucretia Mott (Lucretia Mott)

Lucretia Mott

Like many Quakers, Lucretia Mott considered slavery to be evil. Inspired in part by minister Elias Hicks, she and other Quakers refused to use cotton cloth, cane sugar, and other slavery-produced goods. In 1821, Mott became a Quaker minister. With her husband’s support, she traveled extensively as a minister, and her sermons emphasized the Quaker inward light, or the presence of the Divine within every individual. Her sermons also included her free produce and anti-slavery sentiments. In 1833, her husband helped found the American Anti-Slavery Society. By then an experienced minister and abolitionist, Lucretia Mott was the only woman to speak at the organizational meeting in Philadelphia. She tested the language of the society’s Constitution and bolstered support when many delegates were precarious. Days after the conclusion of the convention, at the urging of other delegates, Mott and other white and black women founded the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society. Integrated from its founding, the organization opposed both slavery and racism, and developed close ties to Philadelphia’s Black community. Mott herself often preached at Black parishes. Around this time, Mott’s sister-in-law, Abigail Lydia Mott, and brother-in-law, Lindley Murray Moore, were helping to found the Rochester Anti-Slavery Society (see Julia Griffiths). Amidst social persecution by abolition opponents and pain from dyspepsia, Mott continued her work for the abolitionist cause. She managed their household budget to extend hospitality to guests, including fugitive slaves, and donated to charities. Mott 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.” Mott and other female activists also organized anti-slavery fairs to raise awareness and revenue, providing much of the funding for the movement.

Women’s participation in the anti-slavery movement threatened societal norms.[citation needed] Many members of the abolitionist movement opposed public activities by women, especially public speaking. At the Congregational Church General Assembly, delegates agreed on a pastoral letter warning women that lecturing directly defied St. Paul’s instruction for women to keep quiet in church.(1 Timothy 2:12) Other people opposed women’s speaking to mixed crowds of men and women, which they called “promiscuous.” Others were uncertain about what was proper, as the rising popularity of the Grimké sisters and other women speakers attracted support for abolition. Lucretia Mott attended all three national Anti-Slavery Conventions of American Women (1837, 1838, 1839). During the 1838 convention in Philadelphia, a mob destroyed Pennsylvania Hall, a newly opened meeting place built by abolitionists. Mott and the white and black women delegates linked arms to exit the building safely through the crowd. Afterward, the mob targeted her home and Black institutions and neighborhoods in Philadelphia. As a friend redirected the mob, Mott waited in her parlor, willing to face her violent opponents.

In June 1840, Lucretia Mott attended the General Anti-Slavery Convention, better known as the World’s Anti-Slavery Convention, in London, England. In spite of Mott’s status as one of six women delegates, before the conference began, the men voted to exclude the American women from participating, and the female delegates were required to sit in a segregated area. Anti-slavery leaders didn’t want the women’s rights issue to become associated with the cause of ending slavery worldwide and dilute the focus on abolition. In addition, the social mores of the time generally prohibited women’s participation in public political life. Several of the American men attending the convention, including William Lloyd Garrison and Wendell Phillips, protested the women’s exclusion[citation needed]. Garrison, Nathaniel Peabody Rogers, William Adam, and African American activist Charles Lenox Remond sat with the women in the segregated area. Activists Elizabeth Cady Stanton and her husband Henry B. Stanton attended the convention while on their honeymoon. Stanton admired Mott, and the two women became united as friends and allies. One Irish reporter deemed her the “Lioness of the Convention”. Lucretia Mott was among the women included in the commemorative painting of the convention, which also featured female British activists: Elizabeth Pease, Mary Anne Rawson, Anne Knight, Elizabeth Tredgold and Mary Clarkson, daughter of Thomas Clarkson.

Encouraged by active debates in England and Scotland, Lucretia Mott also returned with new energy for the anti-slavery cause in the United States. She continued an active public lecture schedule, with destinations including the major Northern cities of New York and Boston, as well as travel over several weeks to slave-owning states, with speeches in Baltimore, Maryland and other cities in Virginia. She arranged to meet 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 over to you”, referring to the senator and abolition opponent. Lucretia Mott and Stanton became well acquainted at the World’s Anti-Slavery Convention. Stanton later recalled that they first discussed the possibility of a women’s rights convention in London. In 1848, Mott and Stanton organized a women’s rights convention at Seneca Falls, New York. Stanton noted the Seneca Falls Convention was the first public women’s rights meeting in the United States .[citation needed]. 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 despite Mott’s opposition. Mott viewed politics as corrupted by slavery and moral compromises, but she soon concluded that women’s “right to the elective franchise however, is the same, and should be yielded to her, whether she exercises that right or not.” Mott signed the Seneca Falls Declaration of Sentiments.

But despite Mott’s opposition to electoral politics, her fame had reached into the political arena even before the July of 1848 women’s rights convention. During the June of 1848 National Convention of the Liberty Party, 5 of the 84 voting delegates cast their ballots for Lucretia Mott to be their party’s candidate for the Office of U.S. Vice President. In delegate voting, she placed 4th in a field of nine. Over the next few decades, women’s suffrage became the focus of the women’s rights movement. While Stanton is usually credited as the leader of that effort, it was Mott’s mentoring of Stanton and their work together that inspired the event. Mott’s sister, Martha Coffin Wright, also helped organize the convention and signed the declaration. Noted abolitionist and human rights activist Frederick Douglass was in attendance and played a key role in persuading the other attendees to agree to a resolution calling for women’s suffrage. Lucretia Mott died on November 11, 1880 of pneumonia at her home, Roadside, in Cheltenham, Pennsylvania. She was buried in the Quaker Fairhill Burial Ground in North Philadelphia.

More Images

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Born

  • January, 03, 1793
  • USA
  • Nantucket, Massachusetts

Died

  • November, 11, 1880
  • USA
  • Cheltenham, Pennsylvania

Cause of Death

  • pneumonia

Cemetery

  • Fair Hill Burial Ground
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • USA

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