Lucretia Mott



And on the path of abolitionism is where Lucretia Mott’s effect on American society began.  Unlike some activists of the time who advocated a gradual emancipation of slaves and their recolonization in Africa, Mott advocated a more severe approach.  She agreed with the view of William Lloyd Garrison, that immediate freedom of slaves was necessary.[12]  Garrison, Mott, and other activists surely had their work cut out for them.  To change the minds of so many pro-slavery Americans, or at least the minds of those who could end slavery via legislation, anti-slavery activists would have to create a stir.  In 1833 in Philadelphia, Lucretia Mott was one of four women who were part of the founding of the American Anti-Slavery Society, and Mott was even allowed to speak.[13]  These four women then formed their own Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society,[14] and Mott served on its executive committee.[15]  In this capacity, Mott could dictate the actions of the society.  And she dictated the society’s actions in a way that reinforced the goal of the society.  The society had both black and white members and it prohibited its members from buying goods produced by slaves.[16]  Mott did this not only because she believed it was the moral, Christian thing to do, but also because she knew that the actions of society members must reinforce their words.  They could allow nothing to deter them from their purpose.  Mott insisted that white and black women abolitionists continue to work together, although criticism and violence, such as the burning down of Philadelphia Hall, sometimes resulted because of it.[17]  The purpose of these anti-slavery societies was to raise public awareness for the movement to end slavery.  Beginning after 1835, Lucretia Mott was one of the organizers of a national campaign to gather signatures for a petition that would be used to convince Congress to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia.[18]  Gathering petitions was not an easy task.  It was hard work that encompassed the challenging of social standards for women and the antagonizing of angry pro-slavery individuals.  The woman petitioners traveled door to door and faced irate disapprovers.[19]

As the years passed, Mott continued on her quest to change society.  At the same time, the issues of slavery and its abolishment became more volatile.  The Civil War was approaching.  In 1861 Mott began speaking with other anti-slavery speakers, such as Frederick Douglass, to crowds in New York, so as to influence President-elect Abraham Lincoln.[20]  Finally, the decade’s worth of efforts by Lucretia Mott and other abolitionists returned some positive results.  Presidents Lincoln set into effect his Emancipation Proclamation January 1, 1863, which freed all slaves living in states in rebellion.  Then the Thirteenth Amendment was ratified in December of 1865, declaring slavery illegal.  Truly, these were magnificent accomplishments for abolitionists such as Mott.

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[12] Bowden, Dictionary, 320.

[13] Judith Papachristou, Women Together (New York:  Alfred A. Knopf, 1976), 3-4.

[14] Ibid., 4.

[15] Goldberg, New Ground, 132.

[16] Papachristou, Together, 4-5.

[17] Goldberg, New Ground, 119.

[18] Papachristou, Together, 6.

[19] Ibid., 6.

[20] Jean V. Matthews, Women’s Struggle for Equality:  The First Phase 1828-1876 (Chicago:  Ivan R. Dee, 1997), 83.