Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Moonstone & New Century Trust Present
Lucretia Mott: The Greatest American Woman
New Century Trust, 1307 Locust St, Philadelphia, PA 19107, (215) 735-7593
A Discussion with Christopher Densmore, Carol Faulkner & Beverly Wilson Palmer
Lucretia Coffin Mott (1793-1880) devoted her life to the abolition of slavery, women’s rights, school and prison reforms, temperance, peace, and religious tolerance. Rediscover this major figure in the reform movements of the nineteenth-century.
“It seemed to me like meeting a being from some larger planet to find a woman who dared to question the opinions of popes, kings, senates, parliaments, recognizing no higher authority than the judgment of a pure-minded, educated woman. When I first heard from the lips of Lucretia Mott that I had the same right to think for myself that Luther, Calvin and John Knox had, and the same right to be guided by my own convictions and would no doubt live a higher, happier life than if guided by theirs, I felt at once a newborn sense of dignity and freedom. It was like suddenly coming into the rays of the noonday sun after wandering with a rush light in the caves of the earth.” Eighty Years And More: Reminiscences 1815-1897 by Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1898)
Christopher Densmore, Curator, Friends Historical Library, Swarthmore College, is the person to go to for information about Quaker history. He is on the board of Friends Historical Association, Vice President of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society, on the steering committee of Conference of Quaker Historians and Archivists, and a member of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. His publications include Red Jacket: Iroquois Diplomat and Orator; co-editor of Quaker Crosscurrents: Three Hundred Years of the New York Yearly Meetings; The Best Man for Settling New Country… The Journal of Timothy Rogers; “Swarthmore College,” in Founded by Friends: The Quaker Heritage of 15 American Colleges and Universities and much more.
Carol Faulkner is Associate Professor of History at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University, and author of Lucretia Mott’s Heresy: Abolition and Women’s Rights in Nineteenth-Century America and Women’s Radical Reconstruction: The Freedmen’s Aid Movement.
“In the first biography of Mott in a generation, historian Carol Faulkner reveals the motivations of this radical egalitarian from Nantucket. Mott’s deep faith and ties to the Society of Friends do not fully explain her activism—her roots in post-Revolutionary New England also shaped her views on slavery, patriarchy, and the church, as well as her expansive interests in peace, temperance, prison reform, religious freedom, and Native American rights. While Mott was known as the “moving spirit” of the first women’s rights convention at Seneca Falls, her commitment to women’s rights never trumped her support for abolition or racial equality. She envisioned women’s rights not as a new and separate movement but rather as an extension of the universal principles of liberty and equality.”
Beverly Wilson Palmer is Research Associate at Pomona College, has experience as the editor of collections of letters, publishing The Selected Papers of Thaddeus Stevens in two volumes, The Selected Letters of Charles Sumner, The Selected Letters of Lucretia Coffin Mott, and A Woman’s Wit & Whimsy: The 1833 Diary of Anna Cabot Lowell Quincy.
“This admirably edited and handsomely published book is a great contribution to printed scholarly resources for 19th-century history. Lucretia Mott was engaged in several of the central social and political movements of that century, and her correspondence opens views into them, especially abolition, women’s rights, and religion and Quakerism. But one will also find comments on domestic life and childrearing, public events, pacifism, and Indian rights… Palmer included as much scholarly apparatus as a reader could want.”