At age 13, Lucretia Coffin was sent to the Nine Partners School in Duchess County, New York, which was run by the Society of Friends, also known as the Quakers. After graduation she became a teacher at Nine Partners and met her future husband, also a teacher there, James Mott. Learning that the male teachers were paid significantly more than female teachers started Lucretia on a mission to fight for women’s rights, and for the rights of other suppressed peoples.
In 1821, Mott became a Quaker minister. With her husband’s support, she traveled extensively as a minister, and her sermons emphasized the Divine within every individual regardless of sex or race.
In 1833, her husband helped found the American Anti-Slavery Society. At the societies organizational meeting in Philadelphia, Lucretia, as an experienced speaker through her ministry, was the only woman presenter. Days after the conclusion of the convention, Mott and other white and black women founded the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society.
In 1838, Lucretia attended an Anti-Slavery convention at Pennsylvania Hall, a newly opened meeting place built by abolitionists. During the convention, an unhappy mob rioted and destroyed the hall. Mott and the white and black women delegates linked arms to exit the building safely through the crowd. Afterward, the mob targeted her home. As a friend redirected the mob, Mott waited in her parlor, willing to face her violent opponents.
In June 1840, Mott attended the World’s Anti-Slavery Convention, in London, England where she met activist Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Stanton admired Mott, and the two discussed the possibility of working together in the future to tackle issues including women’s right to property, their earnings, and custody of their children in the event of divorce.
In 1848, Mott and Cady Stanton organized the Seneca Falls Convention, the first women’s rights convention, at Seneca Falls, New York. By this time, Lucretia Mott had become a well-known advocate of minorities rights and women’s rights, and her fame eventually reached the political arena. That same year, during the National Convention of the Liberal Party, five voting delegates cast their vote for Mott to be the party’s candidate for the office of U.S. Vice President. 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 Cady Stanton is usually credited as the leader of that effort, it was Mott’s mentoring of Cady Stanton and their work together that inspired the movement.
After the Civil War, Mott was elected the first president of the American Equal Rights Association, an organization that advocated universal sufferage. In 1864, Mott and several other Hicksite Quakers incorporated Swarthmore College near Philadelphia, which remains one of the premier liberal arts colleges in the country.
In 1948, a stamp was issued in remembrance of the Seneca Falls Convention featuring Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Carrie Chapman Catt, and Lucretia Mott. And, in 1983, Mott was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.
Lucretia Mott always adhered to her Quaker ideals of equality of all people regardless of race, sex, or creed. Did you know that Annie Oakley was raised Quaker? Knowing that helped me in my research for my Annie Oakley Mystery Series. If you are curious about it, you can find my books on Amazon.