A Quaker reformer and preacher, a leading speaker for antislavery, peace, and suffrage movements, organizer of the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention.
Lucretia Coffin’s schoolmates used to call her a “spitfire” – and she turned her skill of speaking her truth into a lifelong career, traveling and lecturing on the twin causes of antislavery and women’s rights.
Mott’s faith in equality and confidence in female abilities were fostered in her childhood by the family’s Quaker faith, and by the fact that her mother succeeded as a shopkeeper while her sea captain father was away. When she started teaching in her boarding school in New York, she had an important encounter with gender inequality: discovering that the salary of the female instructors was half as much as male colleagues. At the school she met her husband – James Mott. The two had a mutual devotion to be active for abolition while raising six children, one of them died at the age of three.
Her public speaking career began in Quaker meetings, and before she turned 30, she was formally recognized as a minister. She noticed the exclusion of women in the organized Abolitionist Movement and turned her anger into action: co-founding the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society and co-organizing the woman’s rights convention at Seneca Falls. There she also delivered the opening and closing addresses.
Decades of popular speeches and organizational achievements later, Lucretia Mott delivered her last public speech, at the age of 85, in the 30th anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention.
“Let our lives be in accordance with our convictions of right, each striving to carry out our principles”
More Interesting Anecdotes:
- She made candies without sugar for her children’s birthday parties as a protest against slavery – the Mott couple boycotted sugar since it was often produced using slave labor, and hence used another sweetener.
- Her home in Philadelphia was a social hub for guests of both races and served as a safe station on the Underground Railway for enslaved people on the run.
- Her political views were inspired by two books written by female authors: Priscilla Wakefield’s ‘Mental Improvement’, and Mary Wollstonecraft’s ‘A Vindication of the Rights of Women’.