WeWalk: Behind the Scenes of Opening the Way

Opening the Way is a walking tour celebrating women's history in downtown Manhattan. It is a multifaceted new project developed by the award-winning nonprofit organization Women's eNews. The walk honors the achievements of women such as Margaret Sanger, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Ida B. Wells -- 21 women in all. This blog has been created to update fans of the walk on its exciting developments and expansion. Please join us in revitalizing history that has been ignored or forgotten!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Sisters of the Suffragist Struggle: Lucretia Mott and Martha Coffin Wright

Lucretia Mott
Lucretia Mott and Martha Coffin Wright had a lot in common—they were two sisters raised with similar Quaker ideals, and were both prominent suffragists and abolitionists throughout their lives, devoted to equal rights for all people. Their birthdays are also close together in date, making this time a perfect opportunity to honor their contributions to women’s history.

Lucretia Mott was born on this day in 1793 in Massachusetts, and is largely considered to be one of the first American feminists. She was an eloquent Quaker preacher and reformer, and in 1840 was selected as a delegate to the World’s Anti-Slavery Convention in London. While sitting in the segregated female section, she met and spoke to Elizabeth Cady Stanton about the need to hold a mass meeting for women’s rights.

Martha Coffin Wright
Martha Coffin Wright, the youngest of the family’s seven children, was born on Christmas Day in 1806. As a biography about her life suggests, her neighbors considered her to be “a very dangerous woman” due to her political stances. She presided over numerous anti-slavery meetings and was active in the Underground Railroad, establishing a close relationship with Harriet Tubman.

Mott and Wright were among a small group of women that collaborated with Stanton to organize the Seneca Falls Convention in New York in 1848, where Mott and Stanton were the two primary writers of the Declaration of Sentiments. (Wright was pregnant at the time, as a statue in her image at the Women’s Rights National Historical Park now shows.) Mott and Wright both also previously attended the founding meeting of the American Anti-Slavery Society in Philadelphia in 1833. Mott later became the first president of the American Equal Rights Association.

Mott worked also to reconcile the strained relations between black male suffragists and women suffragists. She died in 1880. Wright died in 1875 at the age of 68, while still President of the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA).

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