Why is Lucretia Mott a famous daughter of Nantucket?

Lucretia Mott did the things that made her famous as an adult living in Philadelphia, but her formative years were during her Nantucket Quaker girlhood. She was born on January 3, 1793, in her family home on Fair Street. (The house was later replaced by the Ships Inn.) Her father, Thomas Coffin, was a whaling master. Her mother, Anna Folger Coffin, kept a store in their home.

From 1800 to 1802, Thomas was missing. Eventually it was learned that his ship had been seized and impounded in Chile. During his absence, Lucretia attended Friends school and helped care for her siblings while her mother managed the family business. After her father returned to Nantucket, he gave up the sea, and in 1804 he moved his family to Boston.

Lucretia was sent to Nine Partners Quaker boarding school in Dutchess County, New York. She never returned to live on Nantucket, but she maintained her island ties.

One of the founders of Nine Partners school was Elias Hicks, a strong critic of slavery whose views led to the formation of the Hicksite branch of Quakerism. He was influential in developing Lucretia’s opposition to slavery. Also during her time at Nine Partners, she learned that women teachers were paid only fifty percent of men teachers’ salaries.

Lucretia married James Mott, a fellow student at Nine Partners. In Philadelphia, as they raised a family of six children, Lucretia became a Quaker minister and influential speaker. In 1830 she began to travel to win fellow Quakers to the Hicksite branch of Quakerism. She organized an anti-slavery convention of American women and resisted all efforts to silence her.

In 1840 she and James traveled to London as delegates to the World Anti-Slavery Convention where she met Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who had also come as a delegate from the USA. They were outraged when their hosts refused to seat women delegates on the floor of the convention. From this time on, Lucretia worked equally hard for abolition of slavery and for gender equality. In 1842 she organized a meeting for Nantucket’s black community in one of the island’s Quaker meeting houses. In 1848, she was one of the organizers of the Seneca Falls Convention on Women’s Rights.

Lucretia Mott made her last trip to Nantucket in 1876. She carried on speaking in public until 1878 when she was in her mid-eighties. At her death in 1880, she had lived from the time of George Washington through the time of Abraham Lincoln to the time when American women were being jailed for demanding the right to vote for their presidents. From within her Quaker pacifism, she had witnessed the War of 1812 and the American Civil War at close quarters. She had been born into the age of sail and traveled into old age by steamboat and railroad in the service of human rights for all.

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.

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