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.
- Matilda Joslyn Gage: Radical Feminist (tbchick2011.wordpress.com)