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Lucretia Mott

Abolitionist, Women's Rights Activist

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Lucretia Mott

Lucretia Mott

Jone Johnson Lewis
Lucretia Mott Escapes Pro-Slavery Mob

Lucretia Mott Escapes Pro-Slavery Mob

Interim Archives / Archive Photos / Getty Images

Lucretia Mott Facts:

Known for: initiating Seneca Falls Woman's Rights Convention with Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Occupation: reformer: antislavery and women's rights activist; Quaker minister
Dates: January 3, 1793 - November 11, 1880
Also known as: Lucretia Coffin Mott

Lucretia Mott Biography:

Lucretia Mott was born Lucretia Coffin. She was raised in a Quaker community in Massachusetts, "thoroughly imbued with women's rights" (in her words). 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.

Like many Hicksite Quakers including Hicks, Lucretia Mott considered slavery an evil to be opposed. They refused to use cotton cloth, cane sugar, and other slavery-produced goods. With her skills in ministry she began to make public speeches for abolition. From her home in Philadelphia, she began to travel, usually accompanied by her husband who supported her activism. They often sheltered runaway slaves in their home.

In America Lucretia Mott helped organize women's abolitionist societies, since the anti-slavery organizations would not admit women as members. In 1840, she was selected as a delegate to the World's Anti-Slavery Convention in London, which she found controlled by anti-slavery factions opposed to public speaking and action by women. Elizabeth Cady Stanton later credited conversations with Lucretia Mott, while seated in the segregated women's section, with the idea of the holding a mass meeting to address women's rights.

It was not until 1848, however, before Lucretia Mott and Stanton and others (including Lucretia Mott's sister, Martha Coffin Wright) could bring together a local women's rights convention in Seneca Falls. The "Declaration of Sentiments" written primarily by Stanton and Mott was a deliberate parallel to the "Declaration of Independence": "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men and women are created equal."

Lucretia Mott was a key organizer in the broader-based convention for women's rights held in Rochester, New York, in 1850, at the Unitarian Church.

Lucretia Mott's theology was influenced by Unitarians including Theodore Parker and William Ellery Channing as well as early Quakers including William Penn. She taught that "the kingdom of God is within man" (1849) and was part of the group of religious liberals who formed the Free Religious Association.

Elected as the first president of the American Equal Rights Convention after the end of the Civil War, Lucretia Mott strove a few years later to reconcile the two factions that split over the priorities between woman suffrage and black male suffrage.

She continued her involvement in causes for peace and equality through her later years. Lucretia Mott died in 1880, twelve years after her husband's death.

More About Lucretia Mott

Lucretia Mott on the Web

  • Memo on Self
    A compilation of autobiographical material from Lucretia Mott. Linking pages appear to be missing from the site.
  • Likeness to Christ
    Mott's sermon of September 30, 1849. Provided by Chris Faatz -- the Mott biography that used to accompany this is unavailable.
  • On John Brown
    An excerpt from a talk by Mott on the abolitionist John Brown: a pacifist need not be passivist.

Lucretia Mott Books

  • Bryant, Jennifer. Lucretia Mott: A Guiding Light, Women of Spirit Series. Trade Paperback 1996. Hardcover 1996. ISBN 0802850987 and 080285115.
  • Davis, Lucile. Lucretia Mott, Read-&-Discover Biographies. Hardcover 1998. ISBN 051621272.
  • . ISBN 079105295.
  • Sterling, Dorothy. Lucretia Mott. Trade Paperback 1999. ISBN 155861217.

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