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Lucretia Mott
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Lucretia Mott

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Lucretia Mott was a leading social reformer of her time and helped to form the Free Religious Association.

Who Was Lucretia Mott?

Lucretia Mott was a women's rights activist, abolitionist and religious reformer. Mott was strongly opposed to slavery and a supporter of William Lloyd Garrison and his American Anti-Slavery Society. She was dedicated to women's rights, publishing her influential Discourse on Woman and founding Swarthmore College.

Early Life

Lucretia Mott was born Lucretia Coffin on January 3, 1793, in Nantucket, Massachusetts. 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. She stayed on and worked there as a teaching assistant. While at the school, Mott met her future husband James Mott. The couple married in 1811 and lived in Philadelphia.

Civil Rights Activist

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 enslaved people 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).

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While remaining within the Society of Friends, in practice and beliefs Mott 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.

Final Years and Death

While keeping up her commitment to women's rights, Mott 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.

Mott died on November 11, 1880, in Chelton Hills (now part of Philadelphia), Pennsylvania.

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