Tag Archives: Philadelphia

Lucretia Mott: Social Reformer


English: Painting of Lucretia Mott (1793 - 188...

English: Painting of Lucretia Mott (1793 – 1880), the proponent of women’s rights. The artist is Joseph Kyle (1815 – 1863). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Before the Civil War, a minority of Americans believed that slavery should end in the United States. These abolitionists had heard horror stories of mothers witnessing their children being sold to a different slave owner, of men being whipped to death, and female teens being raped by their masters. The abolitionists traveled the country and the world, giving speeches against slavery in hopes of persuading the rest of the public to join their cause. Though both male and female abolitionists had the same goal, the females were excluded from certain events and meetings; the women soon learned that they too were not equal to men. Lucretia Mott quickly learned women were not equal to men so she spent the rest of her life fighting for equality for slaves and women.

Lucretia Mott, born Lucretia Coffin, was born on January 3, 1793 in Nantucket, Massachusetts. Her parents were Quakers so she grew up hating slavery. After attending a Quaker boarding school, she became a teacher. As a teacher, she learned that male teachers made more than female teachers. This surprised her sine the Quakers preached equality, yet women still were not equal with men. A fellow teacher, James Mott, followed her to Philadelphia and the couple married in 1811. He would support his wife throughout their marriage. After the death of her son, Mott became a Quaker minister to spread the word of God. Mott, along with the rest of the Quakers, protested slavery by refusing to buy products of slave labor. Her husband got out of the cotton trade around 1830. Mott became a huge supporter of abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison and his American Anti-Slavery Society. Though she was threatened with physical violence at several anti-slavery meetings, Mott never stopped speaking out against slavery.

In 1833, she and 30 other female abolitionists organized the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society. In 1840, she was voted to be the delegate for the organization at the World’s Anti-Slavery Convection in London. When she arrived in London, Mott could not actively participate in the convection because she was a female. The male delegates voted to exclude the women because the women might try to make the meeting about themselves and women suffrage. Another woman there was Elizabeth Cady Stanton; as the two women sat in chairs in a rope-off area, they agreed that when they returned to the United States, they needed to create a convection for women about women’s rights. In 1848, the two women helped create the Seneca Falls Convection, the first women convection. This meeting was the official start of the women’s suffrage movement.

After the Civil War ended, many abolitionists believed their work was done since slaves were now free. Mott continued to work for black suffrage, traveling the country speaking about how the former slaves deserved to vote and how they deserved government aid. She also spoke about the importance of women’s suffrage. She was elected the head of the American Equals Rights Association, which split into National Woman Suffrage Association and the American Woman Suffrage Association; one believed the 15th Amendment shouldn’t pass because it didn’t guarantee votes to women while the other believed that women must be patient. When the two women organizations split, she tried to ring them together (eventually the two groups did rejoin). This organization would succeed in getting women to vote, though it wasn’t until 1919. She died on November 11, 1880 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from pneumonia.

Lucretia Mott was born into a religion that preached freedom and equality, yet still believed women were not equal to men. As she traveled the world speaking out against slavery, she realized that society still treated women as men’s property. Mott, along with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, organized the first women’s convection in Seneca Falls, New York. This meeting would inspire hundreds of women to take action and because of these feminists, women are now able to own property, marry for love, have a career, and vote. Lucretia Mott, along with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, is honored in the Capitol Rotunda as a sculpture.





Lucretia Mott. biography


Women’s Rights


Lucretia Mott


Harriet Tubman: Black Moses


Harriet Tubman
Harriet Tubman was born into slavery and never dreamed of running away from her family until her owner died, increasing the possibility of her being sold. After running away to the free state of Pennsylvania, Tubman realized she could not live a life of freedom while her family and friends were still slaves. Tubman made it her mission to lead slaves to freedom until the Civil War erupted. During the war, she helped the Union solders navigate the Southern States, becoming the first woman to lead an armed expedition during war . Even after slaves became free, Tubman continued to help others until she became too ill to do so.

Araminta Harriet Ross was born around 1822 in Maryland. Like many other slaves, Harriet was a victim of physical violence. When Tubman was a teen running errands at the market, she encountered a slave who had left the fields without permission. When the slave’s overseer demanded Harriet help him restrain the slave, she refused; the overseer then threw a two-pound weight that struck her in the head. Harriet would have severe headaches and seizures for the rest of her life. Years later,  Harriet married a free black man named John Tubman and changed her name to Harriet Tubman. Though her husband was saving up to buy her freedom, Harriet’s owner died and she feared she would be sold and be separated from her family due to her frequent illnesses. Tubman escaped  in 1849 with her two brothers, but her brothers turned back after seeing their reward notice in the newspaper.Tubman had to continue on her own to Pennsylvania.

After reaching Pennsylvania, Tubman realized she had to save her friends and family from slavery. In December 1850, she heard her niece and niece’s children were going to be sold. Harriet managed to save her niece’s entire family. When she returned to Maryland to see her husband, she found out he was happily remarried. Tubman kept her head up and returned to work, using the Underground Railroad to save over 70 slaves, including her siblings and parents. After the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 made it a crime to help slaves avoid capture, Tubman had to re-route the Underground Railroad to Canada. In December 1851, Tubman led a group of 11 fugitives to Canada; one of her stops was Frederick Douglass’ house. Though locals in Maryland knew someone was responsible for all 70 missing slaves, no one suspected the petite disabled slave who ran away years ago. Years later, Tubman stated “I was conductor of the Underground Railroad for eight years, and I can say what most conductors can’t say – I never ran my train off the track and I never lost a passenger.” Her frequent trips earned her the nickname  Black Moses for leading slaves to freedom.

When the Civil War broke out Tubman acted as a cook and a nurse to the Union Army before being recruited as a spy due to her knowledge of the land. Tubman became the first American woman to lead an armed expedition in the war when she guided the Combahee River Raid. The raid liberated more than 700 slaves in South Carolina. When she was not helping the Union Army, she returned home to Auburn, New York to take care of her aging parents. After the Civil War ended, Tubman returned home on a train. After refusing to move into the smoking car, the conductor broke her arm while fellow passengers  cursed her. Tubman had risked her life helping the North win the war, yet she was still treated as an inferior being. She did not receive a Civil War pension until 1899.

In 1869, Tubman married Civil War veteran Nelson Davis and the couple adopted a baby girl name Gertie. Though slavery was over, Tubman knew she still had work to do. Tubman began attending women suffrage meetings and traveled to speak out in favor of women’s voting rights. Tubman even met Susan B. Anthony. After years of working for equality, Tubman was admitted to the Harriet Tubman Home for the Aged due to her head injuries. Surrounded by friends and family, she died of pneumonia in 1913.

Harriet Tubman risked her life to save her friends, family, and strangers even though she was a black woman with a disability. Tubman  worked without pay cooking and taking care of the Union soldiers because she knew the North needed to win to free all of the slaves. And when she was not taking care of the soldiers, she was back at home taking care of her parents. Though Tubman could have had an easy life in Philadelphia, she spent her whole life helping others even when she didn’t have much  money. Tubman shows how anyone, no matter gender, color, disability, or level of education can become a hero.



Harriet Tubman. biography

Betsy Ross: A Symbol of the Revolutionary Woman



Betsy Ross presenting the first American flag ...

Betsy Ross presenting the first American flag to George Washington, by Edward Percy Moran. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Beginning in Kindergarten, American children are taught about how General George Washington asked Betsy Ross to design the first American flag. It was the summer of 1776 and the thirteen colonies had just declared independence from Great Britain so the country needed a flag. Because of this story, Betsy is the most famous woman during the Revolutionary War. Though the legend was started by her grandson fifty years after Betsy died and historians question its authenticity, Betsy represents all the American women who lived during the Revolutionary War.

Elizabeth “Betsy” Griscom was born on January 1, 1752 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Betsy was born to Quaker parents, but was shunned after falling in love with John Ross, a fellow upholster apprentice. After eloping, the couple started their own upholstery shop until John joined the militia. While John was stationed on Philadelphia’s waterfront, gunpowder exploded and killed him. Betsy was now all alone, forced to work days and nights repairing uniforms, making tents, and making blankets for the Continental Army.

The legend says that in the summer of 1776, General George Washington visited Betsy to ask her to design a flag for the new nation. The Continental Congress had come up with a basic design, but Betsy finalized the design by replacing the six-shape stars with five-shape stars because the cloth could be folded and cut out with a single snip. Though there is no proof she created the first flag, there is proof that she was among one of the first women to do so since a receipt shows that the Pennsylvania State Navy Board paid her 15 pounds to sew flags for ships.

In June 1777, Betsy married Joseph Ashburn. In 1780, he was apprehended by the British in 1782 while working as a privateer in the West Indies and died in a British Prison. While her husband was missing, Betsy had to deal with the death of her firstborn daughter right after her second daughter was born. John Claypoole, an old friend, delivered the message of her husband’s death to Ross. The two ended up marrying and having five daughters. Over the next few decades, Betsy  made flags and banners for the nation until her poor eye sight prevented her from sewing. Betsy died on January 20, 1836 at the age of 84.

Though there is no proof that Betsy created the first American Flag (there is also no proof that she didn’t create the first flag) Betsy is still an important part of American history. Betsy demonstrates how hard women had to work to support their family while taking care of the house and raising children. Betsy, like other women during war, lost loved ones due to war but she remained strong and continued to work to support herself and her family. Betsy shows how women have always played a role in American History and will always be there to support the United States during times of war.


Betty Ross

Betsy Ross. biography