Mott, Lucretia - History

Mott, Lucretia - History

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Coffin Social Reformer


Lucretia Coffin was born on January 3, 1793, in Nantucket, Massachusetts. She entered the Nine Partners Boarding School, a Quaker academy near Poughkeepsie, New York, in 1806; and after two years of study, began to teach there.

In 1811, she married James Mott, a fellow teacher from the school. About 1818, she began speaking at Quaker meetings, with such fervor, that she was immediately accepted as a minister of the Society of Friends.

With the great Quaker split of 1827, she reluctantly sided with the liberal Elias Hicks, and thereafter remained a champion of intellectual freedom and practical righteousness. In 1833, she participated in the founding of the American Anti-Slavery Society, and led in organizing the Philadelphia Anti-Slavery Society.

Although she was one of the three original members of the executive committee of the American Anti-Slavery Society, she was refused a seat as delegate to the 1840 world antislavery convention in London. She reacted to this sexual discrimination, by joining with Elizabeth Cady Stanton to organize the first woman‚s rights convention at Seneca Falls, New York (1848).

Then, after the Fugitive Slave Law was adopted in 1850, she and her husband opened their home to runaway slaves. And when the Civil War began, Mrs. Mott worked hard to support the Union, despite her pacifism.

In her later years, she continued to work for liberal religious causes, temperance, women‚s rights, and world peace. She died on November 11, 1880 in her home outside Philadelphia.

Lucretia Mott

Lucretia Coffin Mott was a nineteenth century Quaker minister and reformer. She is well known for her work in moral reform including temperance and abolition. She is best known, however, for her work in the Women’s Rights Movement of her day and especially for her work in organizing the first Women’s Rights Convention in New York State in 1848.

Lucretia Coffin was born in 1793 on the island of Nantucket Massachusetts and her parents were of noble Quaker stock. Early on she was impressed by her mother’s active role in the community and church congregation, or Society as Quakers called it, to which they belonged. As a rule, Quakers believed in the equality of all people, no matter what the race or the sex, which made them very active in moral reform, including abolition and women’s rights. The Mott family moved to Boston in 1804 and Lucretia was sent to a Quaker boarding school in Poughkeepsie, New York. Lucretia was well educated and went on to teach in that same school at the age of fifteen.

In 1809 she moved to Philadelphia with her family where she married James Mott, a fellow teacher at the Poughkeepsie school who had recently joined her father’s hardware company. They were a fine match and their marriage has been spoken of as one of the most perfect the world has ever seen.

In 1821, Lucretia became a Quaker minister, noted for her intellectual ability, sweetness of disposition, and speaking ability. In 1827 she and

James changed their religious affiliation to that of the Hicksite Quakers, a more liberal branch of the Society of Friends and became deeply involved in the abolitionist movement. She soon became known for her persuasive speeches against slavery. Like many Hicksites, she refused to use cotton cloth, cane sugar, and other products produced by slaves. In 1833, Lucretia helped form the American Anti-Slavery Society and the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society. In 1937 she helped organize the Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women. With the support of her husband, the Mott’s frequently sheltered runaway slaves. While she was active in her role as a minister and in the cause of abolition, she was always first a wife, mother, and homemaker.

In 1840, Lucretia was sent with other women as delegates to the World’s Anti-Slavery Convention in London. The men in charge of the meeting, however, were opposed to public speaking and action by women and refused to seat the women delegates. This was an outrage to Lucretia and other women. It was here, while seated in the segregated women’s section at these meetings, that she met Elizabeth Cady Stanton and their conversations at this meeting are often credited as being the stimuli for the first Women’s Rights Convention to be held eight years later (Adelman, Famous Women, p. 167).

In 1848, Mott and Stanton called the first Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, N.Y., where Elizabeth lived. It was here that the Women’s Rights Movement was born. After this first convention, Lucretia became increasingly dedicated to women’s rights and began to speak widely for it.

Lucretia Mott was a social reformer and a philanthropist. She was a woman of modesty and courage, gentleness and force, with a sharp intellect and a great heart. She worked quietly but mightily for God and humanity.


Lucretia Coffin was born January 3, 1793, [1] in Nantucket, Massachusetts, the second child of Anna Folger and Thomas Coffin. [2] Through her mother, she was a descendant of Peter Folger [3] and Mary Morrell Folger, early settlers of the colony. [4] Her cousin was Benjamin Franklin, one of the Framers of the Constitution, while other Folger relatives were Tories, those who remained loyal to the British Crown during the American Revolution. [5]

She was sent at the age of 13 to the Nine Partners School, located in Dutchess County, New York, which was run by the Society of Friends (Quakers). [6] There she became a teacher after graduation. Her interest in women's rights began when she discovered that male teachers at the school were paid significantly more than female staff. [7] After her family moved to Philadelphia, she and James Mott, another teacher at Nine Partners, followed. [8]

Early anti-slavery efforts Edit

Like most Quakers, Mott considered slavery to be evil. Inspired in part by minister Elias Hicks, she and other Quakers refused to use cotton cloth, cane sugar, and other slavery-produced goods. In 1821, Mott became a Quaker minister. With her husband's support, she traveled extensively as a minister, and her sermons emphasized the Quaker inward light or the presence of the Divine within every individual. Her sermons also included her free produce and anti-slavery sentiments. In 1833, her husband helped found the American Anti-Slavery Society. By then an experienced minister and abolitionist, Lucretia Mott was the only woman to speak at the organizational meeting in Philadelphia. She tested the language of the society's Constitution and bolstered support when many delegates were precarious. Days after the conclusion of the convention, at the urging of other delegates, Mott and other white and black women founded the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society. Integrated from its founding, the organization opposed both slavery and racism, and developed close ties to Philadelphia's Black community. Mott herself often preached at Black parishes. Around this time, Mott's sister-in-law, Abigail Lydia Mott, and brother-in-law, Lindley Murray Moore, were helping to found the Rochester Anti-Slavery Society (see Julia Griffiths).

Amidst social persecution by abolition opponents and pain from dyspepsia, Mott continued her work for the abolitionist cause. She managed their household budget to extend hospitality to guests, including fugitive slaves, and donated to charities. Mott was praised for her ability to maintain her household while contributing to the cause. In the words of one editor, "She is proof that it is possible for a woman to widen her sphere without deserting it." [9] Mott and other female activists also organized anti-slavery fairs to raise awareness and revenue, providing much of the funding for the movement. [10]

Women's participation in the anti-slavery movement threatened societal norms. [ citation needed ] Many members of the abolitionist movement opposed public activities by women, especially public speaking. At the Congregational Church General Assembly, delegates agreed on a pastoral letter warning women that lecturing directly defied St. Paul's instruction for women to keep quiet in church.(1 Timothy 2:12) Other people opposed women's speaking to mixed crowds of men and women, which they called "promiscuous." Others were uncertain about what was proper, as the rising popularity of the Grimké sisters and other women speakers attracted support for abolition.

Mott attended all three national Anti-Slavery Conventions of American Women (1837, 1838, 1839). During the 1838 convention in Philadelphia, a mob destroyed Pennsylvania Hall, a newly opened meeting place built by abolitionists. Mott and the white and black women delegates linked arms to exit the building safely through the crowd. Afterward, the mob targeted her home and Black institutions and neighborhoods in Philadelphia. As a friend redirected the mob, Mott waited in her parlor, willing to face her violent opponents. [11]

Mott was involved in a number of anti-slavery organizations, including the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society, the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society (founded in 1838), the American Free Produce Association, and the American Anti-Slavery Society.

World's Anti-Slavery Convention Edit

In June 1840, Mott attended the General Anti-Slavery Convention, better known as the World's Anti-Slavery Convention, in London, England. In spite of Mott's status as one of six women delegates, before the conference began, the men voted to exclude the American women from participating, and the female delegates were required to sit in a segregated area. Anti-slavery leaders didn't want the women's rights issue to become associated with the cause of ending slavery worldwide and dilute the focus on abolition. [13] In addition, the social mores of the time denied women's full participation in public political life. Several of the American men attending the convention, including William Lloyd Garrison and Wendell Phillips, protested the women's exclusion. [14] Garrison, Nathaniel Peabody Rogers, William Adam, and African American activist Charles Lenox Remond sat with the women in the segregated area.

Activists Elizabeth Cady Stanton and her husband Henry Brewster Stanton attended the convention while on their honeymoon. Stanton admired Mott, and the two women became united as friends and allies.

One Irish reporter deemed her the "Lioness of the Convention". [15] Mott was among the women included in the commemorative painting of the convention, which also featured female British activists: Elizabeth Pease, Mary Anne Rawson, Anne Knight, Elizabeth Tredgold and Mary Clarkson, daughter of Thomas Clarkson. [16] Benjamin Haydon the painting's creator had intended to give Mott a prominent place in the painting. However during a sitting on 29 June 1840 to capture her lightness, he took a dislike to her views and decided to not use her portrait prominently. [17]

Encouraged by active debates in England and Scotland, Mott also returned with new energy for the anti-slavery cause in the United States. She continued an active public lecture schedule, with destinations including the major Northern cities of New York City and Boston, as well as travel over several weeks to slave-owning states, with speeches in Baltimore, Maryland and other cities in Virginia. She arranged to meet with slave owners to discuss the morality of slavery. In the District of Columbia, Mott timed her lecture to coincide with the return of Congress from Christmas recess more than 40 Congressmen attended. She had a personal audience with President John Tyler who, impressed with her speech, said, "I would like to hand Mr. Calhoun over to you", [18] referring to the senator and abolition opponent.

Overview Edit

Mott and Cady Stanton became well acquainted at the World's Anti-Slavery Convention. Cady Stanton later recalled that they first discussed the possibility of a women's rights convention in London.

Women's rights activists advocated a range of issues, including equality in marriage, such as women's property rights and rights to their earnings. At that time it was very difficult to obtain divorce, and fathers were almost always granted custody of children. Cady Stanton sought to make divorce easier to obtain and to safeguard women's access to and control of their children. Though some early feminists disagreed, and viewed Cady Stanton's proposal as scandalous, Mott stated "her great faith in Elizabeth Stanton's quick instinct & clear insight in all appertaining to women's rights." [19]

Mott's theology was influenced by Unitarians including Theodore Parker and William Ellery Channing as well as early Quakers including William Penn. She thought that "the kingdom of God is within man" (1749) and was part of the group of religious liberals who formed the Free Religious Association in 1867, with Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise, [20] Ralph Waldo Emerson and Thomas Wentworth Higginson.

In 1866, Mott joined with Stanton, Anthony, and Stone to establish the American Equal Rights Association. The following year, the organization became active in Kansas where black suffrage and woman suffrage were to be decided by popular vote, and it was then that Stanton and Anthony formed a political alliance with Train, leading to Mott's resignation. Kansas failed to pass both referenda.

Mott was a founder and president of the Northern Association for the Relief and Employment of Poor Women in Philadelphia (founded in 1846).

Seneca Falls Convention Edit

In 1848, Mott and Cady Stanton organized the Seneca Falls Convention, the first women's rights convention, at Seneca Falls, New York. [21] Stanton's resolution that it was "the duty of the women of this country to secure to themselves the sacred right to the elective franchise" was passed despite Mott's opposition. Mott viewed politics as corrupted by slavery and moral compromises, but she soon concluded that women's "right to the elective franchise however, is the same, and should be yielded to her, whether she exercises that right or not." [22] Mott signed the Seneca Falls Declaration of Sentiments.

Despite Mott's opposition to electoral politics, her fame had reached into the political arena even before the July 1848 women's rights convention. During the June 1848 National Convention of the Liberty Party, 5 of the 84 voting delegates cast their ballots for Lucretia Mott to be their party's candidate for the Office of U.S. Vice President. In delegate voting, she placed 4th in a field of nine.

Over the next few decades, women's suffrage became the focus of the women's rights movement. While Cady Stanton is usually credited as the leader of that effort, it was Mott's mentoring of Cady Stanton and their work together that inspired the event. Mott's sister, Martha Coffin Wright, also helped organize the convention and signed the declaration.

Noted abolitionist and human rights activist Frederick Douglass was in attendance and played a key role in persuading the other attendees to agree to a resolution calling for women's suffrage. [23]

Sermon to the Medical Students Edit

The biological justifications of race as a biologically provable basis for difference gave rise to the stigma of innate, naturally determined inferiority in the 19th century. In 1849, Mott's "Sermon to the Medical Students" was published: [24] [25]

"May you be faithful, and enter into a consideration as to how far you are partakers in this evil, even in other men's sins. How far, by permission, by apology, or otherwise, you are found lending your sanction to a system which degrades and brutalizes three million of our fellow beings."

Discourse on Women Edit

In 1850, Mott published her speech Discourse on Woman, a pamphlet about restrictions on women in the United States. [26]

American Equal Rights Association Edit

After the Civil War, Mott was elected the first president of the American Equal Rights Association, an organization that advocated universal suffrage. She resigned from the association in 1868 when Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony allied with a controversial businessman named George Francis Train. Mott tried to reconcile the two factions that split the following year over the priorities of woman suffrage and Black male suffrage. Ever the peacemaker, Mott tried to heal the breach between Stanton, Anthony and Lucy Stone over the immediate goal of the women's movement: suffrage for freedmen and all women, or suffrage for freedmen first?

In 1864, Mott and several other Hicksite Quakers incorporated Swarthmore College near Philadelphia, which remains one of the premier liberal arts colleges in the country. [27]

Mott was a pacifist, and in the 1830s, she attended meetings of the New England Non-Resistance Society. She opposed the War with Mexico. After the Civil War, Mott increased her efforts to end war and violence, and she was a leading voice in the Universal Peace Union, founded in 1866. [28]

On April 10, 1811, Lucretia Coffin married James Mott at Pine Street Meeting in Philadelphia. They had six children. Their second child, Thomas Mott, died at age two. Their surviving children all became active in the anti-slavery and other reform movements, following in their parents' paths. Her great-granddaughter May Hallowell Loud became an artist.

Mott died on November 11, 1880 of pneumonia at her home, Roadside, in Cheltenham, Pennsylvania. She was buried near to the highest point of Fair Hill Burial Ground, a Quaker cemetery in North Philadelphia.

Mott's great-granddaughter served briefly as the Italian interpreter for American feminist Betty Friedan during a controversial speaking engagement in Rome. [29]

Susan Jacoby writes, "When Mott died in 1880, she was widely judged by her contemporaries. as the greatest American woman of the nineteenth century." She was a mentor to Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who continued her work. [30]

A version of the Equal Rights Amendment from 1923, which is different from the current version and is written, "Men and women shall have equal rights throughout the United States and every place subject to its jurisdiction. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.," was named the Lucretia Mott Amendment. [31] [32]

The Camptown section of Cheltenham Township, Pennsylvania, which was the site of Mott's home, Roadside, was renamed La Mott in her honor. [33]

A stamp was issued in 1948 in remembrance of the Seneca Falls Convention, featuring Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Carrie Chapman Catt, and Lucretia Mott.

In 1983, Mott was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame. [34]

Mott is commemorated along with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony in Portrait Monument, a 1921 sculpture by Adelaide Johnson at the United States Capitol. Originally kept on display in the crypt of the US Capitol, the sculpture was moved to its current location and more prominently displayed in the rotunda in 1997. [35]

Mott, Lucretia Coffin

Introduction: With a supportive Quaker community, husband and family Lucretia Mott was able to combine her work on behalf of women’s rights and the abolition of slavery. A strong advocate on both issues, she was confident in her beliefs that both issues could co-exist.

Early Years

Lucretia Mott (nee Coffin) was born into a Quaker family in Nantucket, Massachusetts. At 13, her parents sent her to Nine Partners Quaker Boarding School in New York. After graduation she stayed on to teach there. It was while teaching that she got an early taste of gender discrimination. She discovered that she and the other women staff were being paid significantly less than their male counterparts.

Lucretia married James Mott, another teacher at Nine Partners, in 1811. They had six children together, five of whom lived to adulthood. Lucretia, her husband and all of their living children were opposed to the slave trade and actively participated in the anti-slavery and other social reform movements. Mott’s and other women’s participation in anti-slavery activities flew in the face of the social norms of the day, being Quakers, she benefited from a more liberal treatment of women than her female peers did not enjoy.

Their community did not frown upon women participating in the public eye. In fact, her husband encouraged her to fully participate in activities outside of the home.

In 1821, Mott became a Quaker minister with her husband’s support. Through her sermons she was able to freely express her anti-slavery sentiments as well as the beliefs of the Quakers. Mott was known for her ability to support the efforts of the anti-slavery movement through speeches and fundraising while also effectively managing her household.

Helping to Claim the Place of Women in the Anti-Slavery Movement

When her husband co-founded the American Anti-Slavery Society with William Lloyd Garrison, Mott remained an active supporter and speaker for abolition and later, in partnership with a racially diverse group of women, founded the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society. A racially integrated organization from the start, it stood against racism and slavery and developed close ties to the African American community in Philadelphia. Mott participated in all three of the national Anti-Slavery Conventions of American Women in 1837 through 1839 despite the fact that in 1838 a mob destroyed the meeting place. The mob later targeted her home and African American neighborhoods and institutions.

In June, 1840 Mott traveled to London, England to participate in the World’s Anti-Slavery Convention. Despite her status in the U.S. and her well known commitment to the cause, the male delegates voted to exclude Mott and the other seven female delegates from participating and relegated them to a separate seating area. In protest of the decision, William Lloyd Garrison, Wendell Phillips and African American activist Charles Lenox Redmond sat with the women in the segregated section. When Mott returned following the convention in London, she was reinvigorated. She continued to lecture publicly in the north as well as in slave-owning states like Maryland and Virginia. By scheduling her lecture in the District of Columbia to align with Congress’s return from recess, she spoke to an audience including 40 Congressmen. Mott not only returned from London with renewed energy for the anti-slavery cause but also with a new friendship with Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The two women were connected by their ideals which resulted in them organizing the Seneca Falls woman’s rights convention in 1848. This convention has the distinction of being the first public woman’s rights meeting in the United States and produced The Declaration of Sentiments, a document based upon the Declaration of Independence, in which the numerous demands of these early activists were elucidated.

Organizational Participation

Mott was elected as the first president of the American Equal Rights Association, which was committed to universal suffrage, but she resigned when Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony took the organization in a controversial direction. Additionally, Mott was involved with other organizations whose focus was anti-slavery such as the American Free Produce Association, the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society, the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society, and the American Anti-Slavery Society. A pacifist, Mott also attended meetings of the New England Non-Resistance Society. Following the Civil War, she became even more devoted to anti-war activities and was an outspoken member of the Universal Peace Union. She was also the founder and president of the Northern Association for the Relief and Employment of Poor Women in Philadelphia.

Lucretia Mott was an advocate for women’s rights and anti-slavery into her seventies. She died of pneumonia in November of 1880. She and other suffragists were memorialized by Adelaide Johnson in a sculpture that stands in the U.S. Capitol.

For further reading:

Copies of Lucretia Mott’s Letters to Elizabeth Cady Stanton and other information about her life can be found on the Lucretia Coffin Mott Project here:

Final Years and Death

While keeping up her commitment to women&aposs 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&aposs 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.

The Power of Voice, Reflections on Lucretia Mott (1793-1880)

Portrait of Lucretia Mott, by William Henry Furness Jr., ca. early 1850s. Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College.

She’s the best-kept secret in American history, and even on Nantucket, where she was born in 1793. I met her gaze as a sophomore at Swarthmore College, a serene square of Philadelphia. Her parlor portrait arrested me. I needed to know who that woman was. It turned out Lucretia Coffin Mott was a founder of the college and a major figure in slave emancipation and human rights. So why was she a mystery to me, a history major?

First, don’t be fooled by her sweet appearance. This Friend—or Quaker—was a force. Her Nantucket girlhood in a flourishing Quaker community shaped her like clay into pottery.

In later life as a leading Philadelphia Friend in the “Quaker City,” Mott was an early champion for equality, known for the power of her voice. She reached tens of thousands in her time, traveling across a “House Divided” America. She witnessed the widening river of anger between North and South. The day she was born, George Washington was president, and she outlived Lincoln.

Lucretia and her husband, James Mott, were founding members of the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1833. The Motts hosted the inaugural social event. A roaring Southern slaveholder, Andrew Jackson, was president. The small radical gathering was the beginning of something big. Nonviolent resistance to slavery would take time: thirty years. But nonviolent action slowly shifted the public mind.

Among the most famous women in antebellum America, Mott broke silences in the public square, literally. Voice was her gift for creating social change. She spoke in an inspired, spontaneous manner, with no notes. I found much of her eloquence is lost to history.

The idea of a woman public speaker was a shock, but it shouldn’t have been. It’s important to note: her talents were nurtured within the walls of her faith. Quaker women spoke freely, as the spirit moved in worship, just as men did.

That is the secret sauce of Mott’s remarkable success as a public speaker: her Quaker identity formed in Nantucket. Islanders, in general, cultivate independence of mind and thought.

Mott, denied an audience at the U.S. Capitol in 1843, delivered an anti-slavery sermon at the Unitarian Church in Washington, D.C., to hushed residents and lawmakers. She was fifty on that historic night, invit-ed by John Quincy Adams, the stern former president. Five years later, Mott was the main speaker at the first American women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848. Frederick Douglass was also present at this milestone event for women.

Mott stands center stage at the crossroads of the two great human rights movements of the nineteenth century. For her, they were brother and sister causes, inseparable.
What Mott started in 1848, a thoroughly modern leader, Alice Paul, finished with her “Votes for Women” victory in 1920. Interestingly, Paul was also a Quaker, and she graduated from Swarthmore. Mott was a leading light of inspiration to her.

Bronze bust sculpture of Lucretia Coffin Mott,
by Victoria Guerina.
NHA Purchase. 2020.7.1.

Indeed, Mott is the foremother of us all, giving American women a rich lost inheritance, now being found like seaglass. A walk through her life sheds light on a righteous vision and the courage to stand up and speak out. These traits make all the difference to those actively resisting oppression.

Again, Mott’s nonviolent faith informed her outspoken speech in the public square. The Society of Friends embraced nonviolent resistance early on. In England in the 1650s, Quaker men refused to join the king’s army and were jailed because they would not bear arms. They would not tip their hats to authority. They worshiped in stark egalitarian meetinghouses. An emphasis on con-science and “inner light” marked the Protestant sect. The English king was glad to send the dissenters off to the New World, led by William Penn.

Nantucket became a harbor where Quakers could live safely away from hostile Puritan Boston, where some Quakers, including a woman, were hanged in 1660. Mary Dyer sang on her way to the gallows.

My quest revealed Lucretia Coffin was born on sandy Nantucket, many miles off Cape Cod. Her family de-scended from one of the founding white families that settled the windswept island a century earlier. By the time Lucretia was born, the Coffins had a strong sense of belonging to Nantucket and its main religion, the Friends.

In the 1790s, things were looking up in the sunrise of the American age. The bright, hopeful Early Republic was launched in Philadelphia. Lucretia was born into a world still in the making. The victory over Britain’s navy was unlikely, giving the first generation of Americans a sense of providence. It would be up to them to make the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution live and breathe.

As a girl, Lucretia was aware of slavery from reading the British poet, William Cowper. In a seafaring society, she grasped the human misery of slave ships over the Middle Passage. America’s mainland was far in the foggy distance, but she knew slavery was unfinished business, the young nation’s tragic flaw. She felt this with fierce urgency.

Lucretia’s father, Thomas, a sea captain, sailed away for years and was once presumed lost. The day a tanned man walked up Main Street, few recognized Captain Coffin. Lucretia said his homecoming was one of the happiest days of her life. While many island men and boys hunted the sperm whale on voyages, women ran the island’s homes and some of its businesses. They did a lot, caring for children, animals, and business. Nantucket Quaker women were sturdy and self-reliant.

Lucretia, her mother’s best helper, roamed to the market and down to the wharves, bringing home goods for the family. Lucretia Coffin knew nautical talk and island dishes, such as blackberry pudding, that she took with her the rest of her life.

An ancestor of Lucretia’s, Mary Coffin Starbuck, nurtured the Friends religion on island. Among its radical practices was women speaking during meetings for worship, as noted above. This was suspicious and subversive, especially to Massachusetts Bay Colony Puritans. Growing up in this tradition, Lucretia buttressed her strong speaking voice, later to be heard in the out-side world. Flowering in her own Society of Friends, Lucretia first became recognized for her rare distinc-tion as a speaker.

The Coffin family lived on Fair Street by School Street. The Nantucket Friends believed in equal education for girls and boys, a practice much less common on the mainland, and Lucretia attended the coeducational school during her island years. Later, her family sent her to the Quakers Nine Partners Boarding School in Duchess County, New York.
In keeping with their belief in a spark or light in everyone, the Society of Friends was the first religion to wholly embrace opposition to human enslavement, a full century before Lucretia was born. This gives glimmers of what made the young Lucretia unusual in her conviction as a young woman when she was ready to face the wider world.

Lucretia Coffin married James Mott, whom she met when they were teachers at the same Quaker boarding school she had attended in Duchess County. She was eighteen. The couple moved to Philadelphia, the Quaker City, where James became a cotton merchant. Lucretia persuaded him to change to wool, since cotton was a product of slavery. The two were devoted, and James always went with Lucretia when she appeared public-ly. They had five children, but their rosy boy Tommy died young at three. His last words were, “I love thee, Mother.”

The Motts became lifelong Philadelphians, pillars of the city, yet in the radical wing. They were not proper Main Line Friends. A visitor to their home might see the first feminist tract, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, by the Enlightenment thinker Mary Wollstonecraft. Lucretia thought the manifesto made perfect sense. Their dining room could seat fifty guests. It was a lighthouse for abolitionists and Black men and women fleeing slavery.

By the 1830s, the Jacksonian era, fault lines were drawn in a burning “sectional divide” over slavery. This chapter was also the decade that mobs came to towns. One midnight mob almost burned down the Mott house after destroying a new assembly hall for abolitionists.

Mott’s speaking voice is lost to us. She was not so much a writer. But her radiant influence lives through a patchwork quilt of her letters, diaries, speeches, and the living witness of other great speakers, men such as Douglass, Emerson, and Adams.
Her voice started low and gathered strength, rising like a river with thoughts pouring upon her like a summer flood, one witness marveled.

For all comers, the Philadelphia Quaker lady had a strik-ing gaze and an unforgettable voice. Way ahead of her time, Mott is a testament to the power of determined peaceful progress.

From the Summer 2020 issue of Historic Nantucket, read here.

The Nantucket Historical Association preserves and interprets the history of Nantucket through its programs, collections, and properties, in order to promote the island’s significance and foster an appreciation of it among all audiences.


The doctor and architect William Thornton was the winner of the contest to design the Capitol in 1793. Thornton had first conceived the idea of a central rotunda. However, due to lack of funds or resources, oft-interrupted construction, and the British attack on Washington during the War of 1812, work on the rotunda did not begin until 1818. The rotunda was completed in 1824 under Architect of the Capitol Charles Bulfinch, as part of a series of new buildings and projects in preparation for the final visit of Marquis de Lafayette in 1824. The rotunda was designed in the neoclassical style and was intended to evoke the design of the Pantheon.

The sandstone rotunda walls rise 48 feet (15 m) above the floor everything above this—the Capitol dome–was designed in 1854 by Thomas U. Walter, the fourth Architect of the Capitol. Walter had also designed the Capitol's north and south extensions. Work on the dome began in 1856, and in 1859, Walter redesigned the rotunda to consist of an inner and outer dome, with a canopy suspended between them that would be visible through an oculus at the top of the inner dome. In 1862, Walter asked painter Constantino Brumidi to design "a picture 65 feet (20 m) in diameter, painted in fresco, on the concave canopy over the eye of the New Dome of the U.S. Capitol". At this time, Brumidi may have added a watercolor canopy design over Walter's tentative 1859 sketch. The dome was being finished in the middle of the American Civil War and was constructed from fireproof cast iron. During the Civil War, the rotunda was used as a military hospital for Union soldiers. The dome was finally completed in 1866.

The crypt Edit

Originally the crypt had an open ceiling into the rotunda. Visitors can still see the holes in the stone circle that marked the rim of the open space in the rotunda floor. Underneath the floor of the crypt lies a tomb that was the intended burial place for George Washington but after a lengthy battle with his estate and the state of Virginia the plans for him to be buried in the crypt were abandoned. [1]

Renovation Edit

In January 2013, the Architect of the Capitol announced a four-year, $10 million project to repair and conserve the Capitol Dome's exterior and the Capitol rotunda. The proposal required the stripping of lead paint from the interior of the dome, repair to the ironwork, repainting of the interior of the dome, rehabilitation of the interstitial space between the dome and rotunda, and installation of new lighting in the interstitial space and the rotunda. The dome and rotunda, which were last conserved in 1960, were showing significant signs of rust and disrepair. There was a danger that decorative ironwork could have fallen from the rotunda to the space below, and that weather-related problems could damage the artwork in the rotunda. Without immediate repair, safety netting was installed, temporarily blocking the rotunda's artwork from view. [2]

Eight niches in the rotunda hold large, framed historical paintings. All are oil-on-canvas and measure 12 by 18 feet (3.7 by 5.5 metres). Four of these are scenes from the American Revolution, painted by John Trumbull, who was commissioned by Congress to do the work in 1817. These are Declaration of Independence, Surrender of General Burgoyne, Surrender of Lord Cornwallis, and General George Washington Resigning His Commission. These were placed between 1819 and 1824. Between 1840 and 1855, four more paintings were added. These depicted the exploration and colonization of America and were all done by different artists. These paintings are Landing of Columbus by John Vanderlyn, Discovery of the Mississippi by William Henry Powell, Baptism of Pocahontas by John Gadsby Chapman, and Embarkation of the Pilgrims by Robert Walter Weir.

The battle was a key victory for the Americans, prevented the division of New England, and secured French military assistance to the Americans.

Apotheosis of Washington Edit

The Apotheosis of Washington is a large fresco by Greek-Italian Constantino Brumidi, visible through the oculus of the dome of the rotunda. The fresco depicts George Washington sitting exalted amongst the heavens. It is suspended 180 feet (55 m) above the rotunda floor and covers an area of 4,664 square feet (433.3 m 2 ).

Frieze of American History Edit

The Frieze of American History is painted to appear as a carved stone bas-relief frieze but is actually a trompe-l'œil fresco cycle depicting 19 scenes from American history. The "frieze" occupies a band immediately below the 36 windows. Brumidi designed the frieze and prepared a sketch in 1859 but did not begin painting until 1878. Brumidi painted seven and a half scenes. While working on William Penn and the Indians, Brumidi fell off the scaffolding and held on to a rail for 15 minutes until he was rescued. He died a few months later in 1880. After Brumidi's death, Filippo Costaggini was commissioned to complete the eight and a half remaining scenes in Brumidi's sketches. He finished in 1889 and left a 31-foot (9 m) gap due to an error in Brumidi's original design. In 1951, Allyn Cox completed the frieze.

Except for the last three panels named by Allyn Cox, the scenes have no particular titles and many variant titles have been given. The names given here are the names used by the Architect of the Capitol, which uses the names that Brumidi used most frequently in his letters and that were used in Edward Clark and by newspaper articles. The 19 panels are:

From the Statuary Hall Collection Edit

Among the group of eleven statues currently encircling the rotunda against the wall at floor level are six from the National Statuary Hall Collection:

  • George Washington, in bronze, from Virginia, by Jean Antoine Houdon (copy cast in 1934).
  • Andrew Jackson in bronze, from Tennessee, by Belle Kinney Sholz and Leopold F. Sholz, in 1928.
  • James Garfield in marble, from Ohio, by Charles Niehaus in 1886.
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower in bronze, from Kansas, by Jim Brothers in 2003.
  • Ronald Reagan in bronze, from California, by Chas Fagan in 2009.
  • Gerald Ford in bronze, from Michigan, by J. Brett Grill in 2011. [13]

These six statues representing the presidents will remain in the rotunda indefinitely or until an act of Congress.

George Washington Edit

A statue of George Washington – a copy after French neo-classical sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon's 1790 full-length marble in the Virginia State Capitol – holds a prominent place. William James Hubard created a plaster copy after Houdon, that stood in the Rotunda from the late-1850s to 1934. It is now in the Smithsonian American Art Museum. [14] The present bronze copy replaced Hubard's plaster copy in 1934. [15]

James Garfield Edit

James Garfield was the last American president to be born in a log cabin. Sculptor Niehaus returned to America in 1881 and by virtue of being a native Ohioan was commissioned to sculpt a monument to the recently assassinated President James Garfield, who was also from Ohio.

Bust of Martin Luther King, Jr. Edit

The bust of his head and shoulders is 36 inches (91 cm) high and stands on a pyramidal Belgian black marble base that is 66 inches (168 cm) high. Because the bust would be such an important and visible work of art, the Joint Committee on the Library decided to have a national competition to select a sculptor.

On December 21, 1982, the Congress passed House Concurrent Resolution 153, which directed the procurement of a marble bust "to serve to memorialize King's contributions on such matters as the historic legislation of the 1960s affecting civil rights and the right to vote". Senator Charles Mathias, Jr., chairman of the Joint Committee on the Library, the congressional committee overseeing the procurement, said at the unveiling that "Martin Luther King takes his rightful place among the heroes of this nation."

John Woodrow Wilson, the artist was awarded a $50,000 commission to cast the model in bronze. The bust was unveiled in the Rotunda on January 16, 1986, the fifty-seventh anniversary of King's birth, by Mrs. King, accompanied by their four children and King's sister. [16]

Women's suffrage Edit

This group portrait monument is known formally as the Portrait Monument to Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony, pioneers of the women's suffrage movement in the United States. Their efforts, and the work of later suffrage activists like Alice Paul, eventually led to the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920. The work was sculpted by Adelaide Johnson (1859–1955) from a 16,000-pound (7,300 kg) block of marble in Carrara, Italy. The portraits are copies of the individual busts she carved for the Court of Honor of the Woman's Building at the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893. The detailed busts are surrounded by rough-hewn marble at the top of the sculpture. This part of the statue, according to some, is left unfinished representing the unfinished work of women's rights. Contrary to a popular story, the intention was not that it be completed upon the ascension of the first female President — the rough-hewn section is too small to carry a proportional bust. The monument was presented to the Capitol as a gift from the women of the United States by the National Woman's Party and was accepted on behalf of Congress by the Joint Committee on the Library on February 10, 1921. The unveiling ceremony was held in the Rotunda on February 15, 1921, the 101st anniversary of the birth of Susan B. Anthony, and was attended by representatives of over 70 women's organizations. Shortly after its unveiling, however, the statue was moved into the Capitol Crypt. It remained on display there for 75 years, until HCR 216 ordered it moved to the Rotunda. The statue was placed in its current location, in the Rotunda, in May 1997. [17]

Lucretia Mott

Lucretia Mott as sculpted by Lloyd Lillie. The bronze statue is in the lobby of the park visitor center.

One of eight children born to Quaker parents on the island of Nantucket, Massachusetts, Lucretia Coffin Mott (1793-1880) dedicated her life to the goal of human equality. As a child Mott attended Nine Partners, a Quaker boarding school located in New York, where she learned of the horrors of slavery from her readings and from visiting lecturers such as Elias Hicks, a well-known Quaker abolitionist. She also saw that women and men were not treated equally, even among the Quakers, when she discovered that female teachers at Nine Partners earned less than males. At a young age Lucretia Coffin Mott became determined to put an end to such social injustices.

In 1833 Mott, along with Mary Ann M’Clintock and nearly 30 other female abolitionists, organized the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society. She later served as a delegate from that organization to the 1840 World Anti-Slavery Convention in London. It was there that she first met Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who was attending the convention with her husband Henry, a delegate from New York. Mott and Stanton were indignant at the fact that women were excluded from participating in the convention simply because of their gender, and that indignation would result in a discussion about holding a woman’s rights convention. Stanton later recalled this conversation in the History of Woman Suffrage:

As Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton wended their way arm in arm down Great Queen Street that night, reviewing the exciting scenes of the day, they agreed to hold a woman’s rights convention on their return to America, as the men to whom they had just listened had manifested their great need of some education on that question. Thus a missionary work for the emancipation of woman…was then and there inaugurated.

Eight years later, on July 19 and 20, 1848, Mott, Stanton, Mary Ann M’Clintock, Martha Coffin Wright, and Jane Hunt acted on this idea when they organized the First Woman’s Rights Convention.

Throughout her life Mott remained active in both the abolition and women’s rights movements. She continued to speak out against slavery, and in 1866 she became the first president of the American Equal Rights Association, an organization formed to achieve equality for African Americans and women.

Lucretia Mott

Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton met at the World’s Anti-Slavery Convention in London, where the two discussed the need for a convention about women’s rights. Mott and Stanton then became the primary organizers of the Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, New York in July 1848 – the first women’s rights meeting ever held in the United States.

Childhood and Early Years
Lucretia Coffin was born on January 3, 1793, to Quaker parents in the seaport town of Nantucket, Massachusetts. She was the second child of seven by Thomas Coffin and Anna Folger Coffin. In 1804, the Coffins moved to Boston, where Thomas was an international trader with warehouses and wharves. He bought a new brick house on Round Lane for $5600.

When she was 13, the Coffins sent Lucretia to the Nine Partners Quaker Boarding School in Dutchess County, New York, where she excelled. After graduating in 1808 she served as an assistant teacher at Nine Partners until 1810, without salary other than room and board and free tuition for her sister Eliza. Her interest in women’s rights began when she discovered that male teachers at the school were paid three times as much as the female staff.

There she met James Mott, a paid teacher at Nine Partners, son of Adam and Anne Mott. He was about 20 and was as reserved and quiet as Lucretia was vivacious and talkative. He was the tallest boy at the school and Lucretia was fairly short.

Thomas Coffin had sold his business in Boston and entered the cut nail manufacturing business with a relative at French Creek near Philadelphia. During that time he moved the family from Boston to Philadelphia, a city that was to be Lucretia’s home for the rest of her life.

Home and Family
James Mott also moved from New York to Philadelphia, perhaps to be near Lucretia, and was given a position in Thomas Coffin’s firm as a commission merchant. James and Lucretia were given parental consent to marry in the early spring of 1811. They were married at Pine Street Meeting House in Philadelphia on April 10, 1811. Between 1812 and 1828 Mott bore six children, five of whom lived to adulthood.

Following the War of 1812, the Coffins and Motts shared in the economic depression that followed the war and lived in a state of financial instability for several years. This caused Thomas to move temporarily to Ohio after his cut-nail business was sold to pay debts.

James and Lucretia went to New York where they helped Richard Mott at his cotton mill at Mamaroneck. This was not profitable so James and Lucretia moved to New York city where he worked as a bank clerk. Finally they moved back to Philadelphia. There in March 1817, Lucretia, now the mother of two small children, got a job as teacher at the Select School for girls. The birth of her third child, Maria, in 1818 brought her teaching career to a close.

Lucretia’s father died in 1815 of typhus and Anne Coffin (Lucretia’s mother) opened a store in Philadelphia which became successful. By 1824 she had given this up and was running a boarding house. James Mott engaged in cotton and wool wholesale trade (he later focused only on wool trading as a protest against the slavery-dependent cotton industry in the South). During the 1820s, Mott’s business prospered, allowing them to move into a home of their own.

Throughout their long marriage James Mott encouraged his wife in her many activities outside the home. The Quaker tradition enabled women to take public positions on a variety of social problems. She began to speak at Quaker meetings in 1818, and in 1821 she was recognized as a Quaker minister.

During the 1820s a rift formed between the stricter, more conservative Quakers and the tolerant, less orthodox followers of Elias Hicks (known as the Hicksites). In 1827 James and Lucretia followed the Hicksite branch which espoused free interpretation of the Bible and reliance on inward, as opposed to historic Christian, guidance.

As her children grew, Lucretia had more time to read and study the Bible, serious religious works and Mary Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Women, which she kept on the center table of her home for 40 years and could recite passages from memory. During the Quaker schism of 1827 the Motts united with the Hicksite faction, meeting temporarily at Carpenter’s Hall.

Abolitionist Activities
Like many Quakers, the Motts considered slavery an evil to be opposed. They refused to use cotton cloth, cane sugar and other slavery-produced goods. Lucretia began to speak publicly for the abolition cause, often traveling from her home in Philadelphia. Her sermons combined anti-slavery themes with broad calls for moral reform.

Lucretia first entertained William Lloyd Garrison at her home in 1830, during which he enlisted the Motts in the efforts to emancipate the slaves. A lifelong friendship stemmed from their initial meeting. Mott and her husband became deeply involved in the national abolitionist circle.

In December 1833, Garrison called a meeting to expand the New England Anti-Slavery Society. James Mott was a delegate at the Convention, but it was Lucretia who made a lasting impression on attendees. She tested the language of the Constitution and bolstered support when many delegates were precarious.

Days after the conclusion of the Convention, at the urging of other delegates, Mott founded the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society, which included both European American and African American members. Among other early members were Sarah Pugh, Mary Grew, Esther Moore, Sydney Ann Lewis and Lydia White.

Black women also joined including Sarah Mapps Douglass, Hattie Purvis, the Forten sisters and Lucretia’s daughters Anna Mott Hopper and Maria Mott Davis. The extensive participation of Blacks tightly bound the actions of the Society to the Philadelphia Black community. Lucretia often preached at Black parishes.

Lucretia Mott was quickly becoming the most widely known female abolitionist in America. Amidst social persecution by abolition opponents, Mott continued her work. She was praised for her ability to maintain her household while contributing to the cause. In the words of one editor, “She is proof that it is possible for a woman to widen her sphere without deserting it.”

Women’s political participation threatened social norms. Many involved in the abolitionist movement opposed public activities by women, which were infrequent in those years. Other people opposed women who preached to mixed crowds of men and women, whom they called promiscuous. None of this stopped Mott. She was one of the leaders in the Anti-Slavery Coalitions for American Women’s assembly held in New York on May 9-12, 1837.

Mob violence against abolitionists was common in Boston, New York and Philadelphia beginning in 1834. In 1838 funds were raised to build Pennsylvania Hall in Philadelphia to be the local abolitionist headquarters. This building was set on fire by a mob soon after its construction while a meeting was being held (Lucretia a speaker) and burned to the ground.

The rioters particularly objected to two things that were fairly novel in these meetings: mixing of the races on terms of equality and the prominence of women in both speaking at and running the meeting. The abolitionist movement was in some ways the beginning of the women’s rights movement in America.

In September 1839 Lucretia was a founding member of the Non-Resistant Society which was made up of abolitionists pledging not to return violence with violence, a concept contributed by William Lloyd Garrison. This was one of the first political organizations to accept men and women on equal terms in America.

Lucretia Mott was a delegate to the World Anti-Slavery Convention held June 12-17, 1840, in London. However, before the conference began the men voted to exclude women from participating. Lucretia and the other women delegates were refused seats, despite the protests of American men attending the convention. Women delegates were required to sit in a segregated area out of sight of the men. William Lloyd Garrison and several other men chose to sit with the excluded women.

During that meeting Lucretia met Elizabeth Cady Stanton, wife of American delegate Henry Stanton, who were on their honeymoon. Stanton was incensed that the women were barred from participation, and she and Lucretia quickly became friends.

Encouraged by active debates she attended in England and Scotland, Lucretia returned with new energy for the cause in the United States. She continued an active lecture schedule, with destinations including the major Northern cities of New York and Boston. For several weeks she traveled to slave-owning states, and gave speeches in Baltimore and Virginia.

She met with slave owners to discuss the morality of slavery. In the District of Columbia, Mott timed her lecture to coincide with the return of Congress from Christmas recess more than 40 Congressmen attended. She had a personal audience with President John Tyler who, impressed with her speech said, “I would like to hand Mr. Calhoun [a senator and abolition opponent] over to you.”

In 1844 Anne Coffin died in Lucretia’s home of influenza. During that same time Lucretia was also stricken with serious health problems: chronic dyspepsia, encephalitis and the same influenza that killed her mother her weight dropped to 92 pounds. For the next two years she was less active in public life.

A steady stream of callers appeared at their home, including Sojourner Truth, Sarah Douglass, Abby Kimber and Sarah Pugh as well as numerous relatives and friends. Out of town visitors included William Lloyd Garrison, Samuel May, John Quincy Adams, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Charles Dickens.

During the 1840s Lucretia was a founder of the Association for the Relief and Employment of Poor Women, a self-help group which made and sold garments, carpets and quilts. James Mott was able to retire from business, financially secure. Lucretia was now regarded as one of the leading radical reformers in America.

In her first major speech at the American Anti-Slavery Society in New York in 1848, Lucretia called for the immediate abolition of slavery. Hicksite Friends like Lucretia were attacked frequently by the Orthodox Friends over their beliefs and often felt called upon to defend them. She was a frequent speaker at local and yearly meetings.

During the 1850s debate in antislavery circles now centered on maintaining the Union of north and south versus the evils of slavery. Lucretia attempted to prevent the fragmenting of the movement by this tension. The Motts assisted runaway slaves who fled from Maryland and Delaware into Philadelphia throughout the 1850s. Their home at 338 Arch Street was a stop on the Underground Railroad.

Women’s Rights Activities
Mott’s commitment to freeing blacks deepened her awareness of the constraints society placed on women. Lucretia Mott, Martha Wright (Lucretia’s sister) and Elizabeth Cady Stanton were the main organizers of the first Women’s Rights Convention, which was held July 19-20, 1848, at Seneca Falls, New York – Stanton’s hometown. This was the first public women’s rights meeting in the United States.

James Mott chaired this convention and Lucretia gave the opening address. Stanton read the Declaration of Sentiments which is based on the Declaration of Independence. Resolutions listed on the document included efforts to secure better education, demolish the barriers to women in industry, the clergy and the professions of law and medicine, nullify laws restricting women’s property rights and support of woman’s suffrage. All of the resolutions in the declaration except the one demanding the vote passed unanimously.

Lucretia Mott also gave the closing remarks at the convention. She had been one of those reluctant to propose the right to vote for women and was also reluctant to have a woman as head of the organization, probably for practical reasons as she certainly believed women should vote. Since Lucretia was the best known of the early women’s rights advocates she now became the whipping-girl of editorialists who opposed her.

In 1850, James and Lucretia Mott were involved in the founding of the Female Medical College of Pennsylvania, the first medical school in the world to provide medical education exclusively for women. In 1850, Lucretia wrote Discourse on Woman, a book about restrictions on women in the United States, and became more widely known as a result.

In 1857, Lucretia and her family left Philadelphia and moved to Roadside in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, near her daughter and son-in-law. A primary reason for moving was Lucretia’s poor health. She still went to Philadelphia to attend meetings and she spent a lot of time reading. On April 10, 1861 – Lucretia and James celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary the day before the fall of Fort Sumter.

Lucretia Mott upheld her pacifist Quaker beliefs during the Civil War, but many Quakers chose to fight, including members of her own family. Her son in law’s near-by property was leased by the Union Army as a training ground for African American soldiers it was called Camp William Penn. Lucretia assisted them in their preparations until they left to fight in the South.

During the war, she raised money and clothes for those freed from slavery. After President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was passed in 1863, abolitionists were seen as heroes, and Lucretia was universally admired. The 13th amendment to the Constitution in 1865 officially freed the slaves, and she began to advocate giving Black Americans the right to vote.

After the Civil War, Lucretia joined with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony and Lucy Stone to establish the American Equal Rights Association. In 1866 she attended the Equal Rights Convention in New York where Stanton was elected its first President but declined so that Lucretia could be President. After her term was over in 1870, the organization split in two and Lucretia was unable to reunite them – on one side was Stanton and Susan B. Anthony and on the other was Lucy Stone, Mary Livermore and Julia Ward Howe.

James Mott died on April 26, 1868, while visiting his daughter Martha in Brooklyn. Despite her grief over the loss of her greatest supporter, Lucretia carried on the struggle for equal rights for all people. She joined the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA), formed in 1869.

On the centennial of American independence, leaders of the NWSA renewed their call for women’s equality with their 1876 Declaration and Protest of the Women of the United States. The document called for impeachment of United States leaders on the grounds that they taxed women without representation and denied women trial by a jury of her peers.

Lucretia continued to work for voting rights for African Americans and equal rights for women, giving at least 40 speeches between 1870 and 1880. In July 1876 she presided at the National Woman Suffrage Association in Philadelphia. The peace movement was also a prime concern during her last ten years. In 1878 Lucretia delivered her last public address in Rochester, New York, where women’s rights advocates celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention. Her last public appearance was in April 1880 at the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting.

Lucretia Coffin Mott died of pneumonia on November 11, 1880, at her home in Roadside at age 87. She was buried in the Quaker Fairhill Burial Ground in North Philadelphia.

Image: Memorial of Women’s Rights Leaders
This portrait monument features portrait busts of the leaders of the woman suffrage movement (left to right): Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony and Lucretia Mott. The uncarved portion behind the busts represents all past, present and future women leaders. It was presented to Congress by the National Woman’s Party as a gift to the nation on February, 15, 1921, and placed in the Rotunda Hall of the United States Capitol. After one day the statue was moved to the basement. Finally, after 76 years, the monument was returned to Rotunda Hall over Mother’s Day weekend, May 10-12, 1997.

Though women did not win the right to vote until 1920, forty years after Lucretia Mott’s death, she lived to see fulfillment of several demands set forth in the Declaration of Sentiments. By 1880, for example, most states granted a woman the right to hold property independent of her husband and several state and private colleges admitted women, including co-ed Swarthmore College, which Lucretia Mott helped to establish.

Mott Manuscripts

The bulk of the collection consists of material which was assembled at the time of the publication of Life and Letters by Anna Davis Hallowell in 1884. It includes original correspondence of Lucretia Mott and her husband, James M. Mott, with family and other reformers of their day, including Susan B. Anthony, Mary Grew, Nathaniel Barney, Charles C. Burleigh, Robert Collyer, George Combe, Anna Davis, Edward M Davis, Maria Mott Davis, Joseph A. and Ruth Dugdale., Mary Earle Hussey , William Henry Furness, William Lloyd Garrison, Sarah Josepha Hale, Mary Hallowell, Phebe A Hanaford, Oliver Johnson, George and Martha Lord, Benson John Lossing, Charles Marriott, Harriet Martineau, Samuel J. May, James Miller McKim, John Stuart Mill, ElizabethNeedles, Elizabeth Pease Nichol, Emma Parker, Wendell Phillips, William J. Potter, Ann Preston, Martha Schofield, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Thomas B Stevenson, Lucy Stone, Theodore Tilton, Richard D. and Emily Webb, Ruth D.Webb, Samuel and Amos Willets, and Elizur Wright. It also contains sermons, essays, and antislavery documents, and the diary of Lucretia Mott's trip to England to attend the World's Antislavery Convention of 1840.


Limitations on Accessing the Collection

Access to the collection is restricted except by permission of the Director or Curator many of the letters have been published elsewhere or transcribed.

Explore Digitized Content

Note that the bulk of the collection has been digitized and is available in our Digital Library. Explore this collection online.

Copyright and Rights Information

Friends Historical Library believes all of the items in this collection to be in the Public Domain in the United States, and is not aware of any restrictions on their use. However, the user is responsible for making a final determination of copyright status before reproducing. See .

Biographical / Historical

Lucretia Mott was a prominent Philadelphia Quaker minister and a leader in reform movements, especially antislavery, education, peace, and women's rights. She was born in 1793 in Nantucket, Mass., the daughter of Thomas and Anna Coffin, and educated at Nine Partners Boarding School in Dutchess Co., N.Y. In 1811, she married James Mott and they settled in Philadelphia, Pa.

The Motts were active Hicksite Quakers, and Lucretia served as clerk of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting and traveled in the ministry. James Mott was a founder of the American Slavery Society in 1833, and Lucretia was a founder of the Philadelphia Female Antislavery Society. In 1840, they went to England to attend the first World's Antislavery Convention, and in London Lucretia became friends with Elizabeth Cady Stanton. In 1848, she and Stanton announced a conference on women's rights to be held at Seneca Falls, N.Y. Mott and her husband were active in the founding of Swarthmore College, a coeducational institution incorporated in 1864, and supported the founding of the nation's first medical school for women, Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania, and the School of Design for Women, now Moore College of Art. Lucretia Mott died in 1880 in Philadelphia, Pa.



Additional Description


Lucretia Mott was a prominent Philadelphia Quaker minister and a leader in reform movements, especially antislavery, education, peace, and women's rights. She was born in 1793 in Nantucket, Mass., the daughter of Thomas and Anna Coffin, and educated at Nine Partners Boarding School in Dutchess Co., N.Y. In 1811, she married James Mott and they settled in Philadelphia, Pa. The Motts were active Hicksite Quakers, and Lucretia served as clerk of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting and traveled in the ministry. James Mott died in 1869, and Lucretia died in 1880. The bulk of the collection consists of material which was assembled at the time of the publication of Life and Letters by Anna Davis Hallowell in 1884. It includes original correspondence of Lucretia Mott and her husband, James M. Mott, with family and other reformers of their day. Also contains sermons, essays, and antislavery documents, and the diary of Lucretia Mott's trip to England to attend the World's Antislavery Convention of 1840.


The collection is organized in five series. The series are:

  1. Ser.1 Correspondence, 1831-1880
  2. Ser.2 Diary and Other Papers
  3. Ser.3 Notes and Drafts for Life and Letters
  4. Ser.4 Newspaper Clippings and Other Secondary References
  5. Ser.5 Margaret McHenry Research Notes

Correspondence in Series 1 is arranged chronologically.

Custodial History

The majority of original manuscripts in this collection were assembled by Lucretia Mott's family after her death in 1880 members of the family solicited letters and personal reminiscences of Lucretia from her friends and colleagues. The collection was used by Anna Davis Hallowell, daughter of Edward M. and Maria Mott Davis, in her edited version of James and Lucretia Mott: Life and Letters (1884). In the preface, dated 2mo 29 1884, Mrs. Hallowell gave a short history of the effort, including the fact that originally the family thought to divide the work into several periods, each to be written by a different person when they decided not to employ a professional writer for the task, the work devolved upon her. She credited Thomas C. Cornell, a Mott cousin whose initial essay is part of this collection, with the writing of the first chapter.

Lucretia Mott Churchill was the daughter of Anna Davis Hallowell. Her granddaughter, Barbara J. Grinberg, is the daughter of Lucretia Churchill Jordan.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The first part of this collection came to Friends Historical Library in 1945 as a gift of the scrapbook of newspaper clippings from Lucretia Mott Churchill a year later she donated a large collection of original Lucretia Mott letters and a journal, followed by another deposit in 1947.

In 1985 and 1988, her granddaughter, Barbara J. Grinberg, gave additional manuscripts found among the papers of her mother and grandmother.

Before 1960, other items had been added to this collection at Friends Historical Library. Margaret McHenry's research notes and partial manuscript of a life of Lucretia Mott were added at her death in 1950, and Otelia Cromwell donated photocopies of Mott letters located in other collections that she used in her own book, Lucretia Mott (1958). Other donors include: Marietta Hicks, the grandchildren of Joseph A. & Ruth Dugdale (1928), Lucy Davis (1943), Mrs. McAllister (1971) separate purchases were made in 1938 and 1980. Lucretia Mott correspondence, was transferred in 2016 from Charles Smith Ogden's autograph collection, the gift of Marie Ogden Francke (1948).

Processing Information

When the donation of photocopies of Mott material from Otelia Cromwell was received by Friends Historical Library, they were added to Churchill's earlier gift, and the Mott Manuscripts were organized and described as an artifical collection, focusing on the correspondence and writings of Lucretia Mott. In 2002, in the process of preparing the finding aid for encoding, a re-examination of the collection--particularly in light of the later donations of Grinberg in the 1980s--it became clear that the bulk of the collection as it stood had the same provenance, viz. as the collection gathered to support the publicaiton of Life and Letters in 1884. Even though the Cromwell photocopies and McHenry reearch notes have been retained as part of this collection, folder identification will enable the researcher to distinguish these parts of the collection.

In 2016, Lucretia Mott correspondence in the Charles Smith Ogden Papers, RG5/108, were transferred to MSS 0035. According to her cover letter to her friend Sarah Corbit, Lucretia forwarded letters to be added to Ogden's autograph collection.

Watch the video: Lucretia Mott: Womens History Month, Part 14


  1. Elmore

    Wonderful, very useful idea

  2. Faenris

    It's straight to the point !!! In other words, you can't say it! :)

  3. Xerxes

    Well done, what words ..., an excellent idea

  4. Bawdewyn

    Wonderfully, very entertaining review

  5. Adir

    It's the scandal!

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