Lucretia Mott

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Lucretia Mott (January 3, 1793November 11, 1880) was the first major American women's activist in the early 1800s and is credited as the first "feminist", but more accurately, the launcher of women's political advocacy. She was a Quaker, a women's rights proponent, and an abolitionist.

Mott was born Lucretia Coffin in Nantucket, Massachusetts. She was a first cousin four times removed of Benjamin Franklin's. She taught in a Quaker school in New York in the early 1800s. She moved to Philadelphia and became a Quaker minister in 1821. She quickly became known for her persuasive speeches against slavery. Prior to her own involvement, many Quaker men had been involved in the abolitionist movement in the very early 1800s. Lucretia Mott was one of the first Quaker women to do advocacy work for abolition.

It should be noted that Quakers at that time were unusual in their equal treatment of women compared to other religious and social groups in America since its founding. They had a rich history and singular respect from the majority of American people of those times, mostly due to their advocacy and martyrdom for being "conscientious objectors" to any wars, and later their anti-slavery efforts. Conscientious Objector status was a radical concept for that time and remains so, and the United States was the first country and still one of the few that allows "conscientious objector" status to war resistors.

Mott was successful in her abolitionist lobbying and punctuated her career with teaching the ropes of representative government's political advocacy to women coming up as women's and abolitionist advocates. In the 1830s she helped establish two anti-slavery groups.

When Mott went as a delegate to the World Anti-Slavery Convention in London, the men at the meeting refused to seat her because she was a woman. After this episode she became active in women's rights. She was instrumental in the first women's rights meeting, the "Seneca Falls Convention" in Seneca Falls, New York in 1848. While Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony are usually credited as the leaders of that effort, it was Mott's mentoring of Stanton and their work together that organized the event. Mott parted with the mainstream women's movement in one area, that of divorce. At that time it was very difficult to obtain divorce, and fathers were given custody of children.

In 1850 Mott wrote Discourse on Woman, a book about restrictions on women in the United States. She became more widely known after this. When slavery was outlawed in 1865, she began to advocate giving black Americans the right to vote. She remained a central figure in the women's movement as a peacemaker, a critical function for that period of the movement, until her death in 1880.

She was posthumously inducted into the U.S. National Women's Hall of Fame.

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