Lucretia Mott

Lived:January 3, 1793—November 11, 1880 (aged 87)
Career:Abolitionist, suffragist

Born Lucretia Coffin on January 3, 1793, in Nantucket, Massachusetts, Lucretia Mott was a women's rights activist, abolitionist, and religious reformer.

A child of Quaker parents, Mott grew up to become a leading social reformer. At the age of 13, she attended a Quaker boarding school in New York State. Mott stayed on and worked there as a teaching assistant. While at the school, she met her future husband James Mott. The couple married in 1811 and lived in Philadelphia.

By 1821, Mott became a Quaker minister, noted for her speaking abilities. She and her husband went over with the more progressive wing of their faith in 1827. Mott was strongly opposed to slavery and advocated not buying the products of slave labor, which prompted her husband, always her supporter, to get out of the cotton trade around 1830. An early supporter of William Lloyd Garrison and his American Anti-Slavery Society, she often found herself threatened with physical violence due to her radical views. Mott and her husband attended the famous World's Anti-Slavery Convention in London in 1840, the one that refused to allow women to be full participants. This led to her joining Elizabeth Cady Stanton in calling the famous Seneca Falls Convention in New York in 1848 (at which, ironically, James Mott was asked to preside), and from that point on she was dedicated to women's rights and published her influential "Discourse on Woman" (1850).

While remaining within the Society of Friends, in practice and beliefs she actually identified increasingly with more liberal and progressive trends in American religious life, even helping to form the Free Religious Association in Boston in 1867. While keeping up her commitment to women's rights, she 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's rights conventions, and when the movement split into two factions in 1869, she tried to bring the two together.

Despite increasing frailty, Mott continued to travel, speak and contribute her energies to a variety of causes. For years she was vice president of the Universal Peace Union. In 1870, she was elected president of the Pennsylvania Peace Society, an office she held until her death. In 1876, the centennial of the Declaration of Independence, she presided on the Fourth of July at the National Woman Suffrage Association convention in Philadelphia, where she, Stanton and Anthony continued to demand women's rights. Two years later, at the age of 85, she attended the thirtieth anniversary of the first Seneca Falls convention.

Mott died on November 11, 1880.