(Lucretia Coffin Mott was, along with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, one of the founders of the women's rights movement in the United States; she was the first American feminist in the early 1800's and the initiator of women's political advocacy)
She was born January 3, 1793 to Quaker parents in Nantucket, Massachusetts. Her dad was a sea captain and was gone for much of the time; her mother ran a country store. In 1804, the family packed up and moved to Boston where Lucretia attended school until she was sent, at age 13, to a co-educational boarding school in New York State. It was there that she became an assistant teacher, without pay...and the experience woke her up to the world's view of women. She noticed that as good as they may be, experienced female teachers were only paid about half of what male teachers were getting.
"If our principles are right, why should we be cowards?" Lucretia Coffin Mott
Then, in 1811, she met and married James Mott, a liberal Quaker who supported her work. The couple made their home in Philadelphia where she was to spend the rest of her days. Between 1812 and 1828, Lucretia bore six children--5 of whom survived to adulthood. Lucretia was opposed to slavery, and she and James began boycotting Southern products in the 1820's--a hardship which meant finding alternatives to such products as sugar, rice, and cotton. And, in 1829, Lucretia was speaking at 'colored churches'.
In 1831, The couple met William Lloyd Garrison, the abolitionist, and she became one of the founders of the American Anti-Slave Society in 1833, and she served as president of the Philadelphia Anti-Slavery Society long before women even thought of joining such organizations. Eventually, accompanied by James, she began traveling throughout the Northeast and Midwest to speak out against slavery. In 1837, she helped form the Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women in New York City, and the following year, she organized the 2nd convention to meet in Philadelphia...and, as the women convened in the hall, a pro-slavery mob of thousands surrounded the building, uttering threats against the Motts. They managed to escape by the skin of their teeth when a friend led the mob in the wrong direction.
But nothing could deter Lucretia. In 1840, she was chosen as a delegate to the 1840 World Anti-Slavery Convention in London, and it was there that she, as well as Elizabeth Cady Stanton and several other women were denied seating as delegates...because they were women. That was her first and only trip abroad, but in 1848, she and Stanton met once again and planned the first women's rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York...and it was Lucretia herself who delivered the opening and closing speech. Then, in the 1850's, she made her home a stop on the underground railroad.
In 1861, the Civil War pushed all other social causes into the foreground, and the reformers all focused on the battlefield. Lucretia did not support the war, and as a pacifist, felt that non-violence was the only moral way to end slavery, and she served as president of the Pennsylvania Peace Society while she began now to work for education reform...raising money to pay for the education of the free and the newly free. After the war, Lucretia served as the first president of the American Equal Rights Association, an organization founded by Stanton and Susan B. Anthony to secure equal rights for all Americans...and that included both blacks and women.
Widowed in 1868, Lucretia continued to devote her life to work for justice, liberty, and equality for all. In 1878, at age 85, she delivered her last public speech at the 30th anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention in Rochester. On November 11, 1880, Lucretia Coffin Mott died of pneumonia. In life, she was a women whose quiet passion for justice gently steered the world toward freedom and truth.
"It is not Christianity, but priestcraft that has subject woman as we find her."--Lucretia Coffin Mott