To Elizabeth Cady Stanton1

[letter - page one]

Philada. 3mo. 16th. 1855 --

My dear Elizabeth

Three weeks ago I received thy letter announcing thy plan of a Book, -- and 3 weeks ago it ought to have been answered. Repeated absence from home, and the care of a family of 20 when at home, are not sufficient reasons -- nor have I any to offer. It is just a dread of entering upon so important a subject.

This is the right work for thee dear Elizh., and success will no doubt attend the undertaking. All the help I can render shall be most gladly given. Let me suggest then, that the opening Chapter go farther back than the "A. S. split in 1840" -- Sarah & Angelina Grimke's labors in Mass. in 1835 & 6 aroused the Clergy; and the 'Clerical Appeal' and 'Pastoral Letter' were issued, which J. G. Whittier and M. W. Chapman satirized in their Poems.2 The division in the A. S. Socy. began in N. Eng. in 37 & 8 -- not only against Garrison as a no-governt. man, but against womens public labors also. Some prominent abolitionists who had before given countenance to the Grimkes, now, either secretly or more openly acted against woman's co-operative action with men. C. T. Torrey, A. A. Phelps, A. St. Clair, Drs. Farnsworth, Harris, Woodbury, Scott Codding, Allen, Trask, J. LeBosquet, are names familiar among the opponents -- The Tappans -- Birney -- E. Wright -- J. Leavitt & others in New York in 39 & 40 uniting with the New-Eng opposition.3

From the time of the 1st. convention of women -- in New Y 1837 -- the battle began. A resolution was there warmly discussed & at length adopted by a majority -- many members dissenting, "that it was time that woman should move in the sphere Providence assigned her, & no longer rest satisfied in the limits which corrupt custom & a perverted application of the Scriptures had placed her," &. c -- During that year Sarah Grimke's Letters

[letter - page two]

were written On the Equality of the Sexes -- the best Work after Mary Woolstonecraft's Rights of Woman.4 It would be well in thy Book to give "honor where honor is due -- credit where credit," by according to M. Woolstonect. great moral courage, in coming out in that day 60 or 70 years ago with her radical claim of the Rig. of Wom. The early Quakers still earlier 1660 & 70 asserted & carried out womans equal claim to the Ministry -- & reciprocal vows in the Marriage covenant -- also in acting a part in the Executive duties of the society -- while their women too were & they still are governed by laws, in the making of which they have no voice -- rules of Discipline always issuing from men's Mg -- Some advance in this respect in R. I. Yearly -- & Genessee; as well as entire equality in the Progressive Freds. Mgs --

But it may not be thy intention to go as far back as I would desire -- and to write a general history of the Woman movement. No one I am persuaded could do it better than thyself. I could furnish thee a variety of documents & books bearing on the subject. Cant thou come here and examine them with me? If not, I might take them, early next summer and either meet thee at Auburn, or at thy own home -- -- For thou may make this a very valuable Work, and it must not be hurried -- Thou ought to have access to much that is already History -- and it will take time -- Send on thy Chapters, and their headings, and I will gladly do all I can --

As to Nantucket women, there are no great things to tell In the early settlement of that Island Mary Starbuck bore a prominent place, as a wise counsellor, & a remarkably strong mind -- Divers Quaker women since that time, have been eminent as preachers. Hannah Barnard of Hudson, a native of Nantucket, of the last century, was regarded one of the greatest ministers in the Society. She travelled in England, & was deposed by the ruling powers ^in the society of course,^ for daring to express doubts of the Divine authority of the Jewish Wars -- as well as more openly than Friends were wont, to deny the

[letter - page three]

atonement & scheme of Salvation. She returned home to Hudson & was much respected thro' a long life for her good works -- Priscilla Hunt [Cadwalader] another great minister -- out west descended from Nant. parents -- on the Fathers side5 -- In the Mo. Mg. of Friends on that Island, the Women have long been regarded as the stronger part -- This is owing in some measure to so many of the men being away at sea -- During the absence of their husbands, Nantucket woman have been compelled to transact business, often going to Boston to procure supplies of goods -- exchanging for oil, candles, whalebone -- &. c -- This has made them adept in trade -- They have kept their own accounts, & indeed acted the part of men -- Then education & intellectual culture have been for years equal for girls & boys -- so that their women are prepared to be companions of man in every sense -- and their social circles are never divided. Successive generations of this kind of mental exercise have improved the form of the head, and the intellectual portion predominates -- Set down as much to partiality & self-praise as thou please. But to thy questions: Garrison did refuse to take his seat in the London Convention, because the Women delegates were rejected. He & N. P. Rogers arrived in London after the decision by vote, & they with one or two others, whose names I forget, took their seats in the Gallery. I went up & sat with them awhile, during one sitting. O'Connell went up there to speak to them, and I think Lady Byron did. The Letters of O'Connell & Wm. Howitt on the subject of our exclusion, published in Jas. Mott's 3 Mo. in Great Britain ought to have a place in thy Book. I will enclose Dr. Bowring's letter to the Liberator.6 I have for years preserved scraps from the Papers, shewing woman's progress -- Most of these may be old to thee -- if not, they are at they service.

Elizh. Fry attended 2 or 3 sittings of the Conventn., and willingly accompanied the Duchess of Sutherland to the Exeter Hall Mg. --  accepting a seat on the platform from which the American Women delegates were excluded -- they being courteously shewn to the side seats, and told as a palliative, that it was the Queen's chosen seat, when she visited Exeter Hall. E. Fry did not interest herself in the woman question -- nor did any of the Quakers present

[letter - page four]

save J. C. Fuller & Anne Knight, except to vote against us -- supposed in part owing to their desire to give no countenance to Hicksites -- Harriet Martineau was sick at that time, near Newcastle-upon-Tyne. She wrote us a letter expressive of her sympathy, & invitg. us to visit her. S. Pugh, Abby Kimber, Jas. & self accepted her invitatn.7-- She did not publish anythg. on the subject to my knowledge.

M. W. Chapman we are informed is coming home this year. 8 She could tell whether the desire of forming a political A. S. party was a cause of dissension, earlier than the opposition to Woman's public labors -- Some of the afore-named men may not have actually opposed, while they gave their influence to that side. Amos A. Phelps was one of the first to slip into Angelina G's mgs. appointed only for women -- Others followed his example, and they became mixed audiences, almost before they knew it.

Thou wilt have hard work to prove the intellectual equality of Woman with man -- facts are so against such an assumption, in the present stage of woman's developement. We need not however admit inferiority, even tho' we may not be able to prove equality. The rapid progress of this movement, in so few years of its advocacy, the number of women already in the field, whose talents are appreciated & well rewarded, the willing ear given to the ultra demands made, except indeed by such Priests as "having ears hear not, neither do they understand," 9 the entrance into the Professions, hitherto monopolised by men, the success as Physicians & lecturers -- these all shew womans capability with man, by severe mental labor to attain to honor -- Antoinette L. B. has done well here -- So has Emma R. Coe, who is in Wm. Pierce's office pursuing the study of Law -- being regularly entered at our Court -- with no opposition -- I accompd. her to Harrisbg. this winter & had a hearg. before many members of the Legr. & others. Of Lucy Stone it is not needful that I should speak. The praise if not "in all the churches," is in the hearts & mouths of all who hear her. Susan B. Anthony too not the least efficient, practical woman -- How nobly you all have done at Albany -- Ernestine L. Rose is one of our best. Thy Address to the Leg. we circulate unsparingly.10 It gives great satisfaction. In thy coming Work thou must do thyself justice. Remember the first Convention originated with thee.

[letter - page five]

When we were walking the streets of Boston together in 1841, to find Elizh. Moore's daughter, thou asked if we could not have a Convention for Woman's Rights. Then when Jas. & self were attendg. the Yearly Mg. at Waterloo in 47 or 8 was it? thou again proposed the Convention, which was afterward held at Seneca Falls. I have never liked the undeserved praise in the Report of that Meeting's Proceedings, of being "the moving spirit of that occasion," when to thyself belongs the honor, aided so efficiently by the McClintock's11 --

I was glad to hear of the welfare of that family, for they have long held a high place in my regard & affection.

How glad we should have been of a visit from thee during thy 6 weeks' stay in New York. We knew not of thy being there, until after thy return home12 --

I must close this long letter,

Affecy. Lucretia Mott


ALS DLC-Stanton

1. Since their meeting at the 1840 World's Anti-Slavery Convention in London, LCM and Stanton (1815-1902) had corresponded regularly. Stanton was then living in Seneca Falls, New York. [back to text]

2. Sarah Moore Grimké (1792-1873) and her sister Angelina (1805-79) began speaking and writing against slavery and for woman's rights in Massachusetts shortly after Angelina Grimké's letter exhorting abolitionists to persevere was published in the Liberator on September 19, 1835. In July 1837 the Congregational Association of Massachusetts issued a "Pastoral Letter" protesting woman speakers. Responding to the letter, Whittier wrote a poem defending the Grimkés (see The Public Years of Sarah and Angelina Grimké, ed. Larry Ceplair, New York, 1989, 24-27; Liberator, October 20, 1837:171; Letters of John Greenleaf Whittier, ed., John B. Pickard, Cambridge, 1975, 1:251). [back to text]

3. The abolitionists who can be identified are New England clergymen Charles T. Torrey (1813-46), Amos A. Phelps (1804-47), Alanson St. Clair, a Unitarian minister; Edwin N. Harris (1805-80); James T. Woodbury (1803-61), and George Trask (1798-1875). Amos Farnsworth (1788-1861) was a Groton, Mass., physician; and Ichabod Codding (1811-66), an abolitionist agent. Scott is possibly James Scott (1788-1862), a Providence abolitionist, and Allen may be Ephraim W. Allen (1779-1846), publisher of the Newburyport Herald, where Garrison began his editorial career. The American Anti-Slavery Society (ASS) split over a number of issues espoused by the Garrisonians, including avoidance of political activity and woman's participation in the organization. Mott sided with the Garrisonians. The Tappan brothers, Arthur (1786-1865) and Lewis (1788-1873), James G. Birney (1792-1857), and Joshua Leavitt (1794-1873) left the ASS in May 1840 and formed the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society. Elizur Wright, Jr. (1804-85) had resigned from the ASS in 1839. [back to text]

4. At the Anti-Slavery Convention of American Woman, held in New York City, May 9-12, 1837, Angelina Grimké introduced the resolution which LCM quotes almost verbatim. Grimké's resolution continued: "therefore it is the duty of woman, and the province of woman, to plead the cause of the oppressed in our land, and do all that she can by her voice, and her pen, and her purse, and the influence of her example, to overthrow the horrible system of American slavery" (Liberator, June 16, 1837: 98). "Render therefore to all their dues . . . honour to whom honour," variation of Romans 13:7. Sarah Grimké published Letters on the Equality of the Sexes and the Condition of Woman in 1838. LCM had read the Declaration of the Rights of Woman (1792) by Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-97) in the 1820s. [back to text]

5. Mary Coffyn Starbuck (1644/45 O.S.-1717 O.S.) was influential in establishing Quaker dominance on Nantucket. Hannah Jenkins Barnard (1754?-1825) traveled in the British Isles 1798-1801. She was censured for preaching that a God of love could not have approved of neither the Old Testament wars, nor of the Napoleonic Wars. Priscilla Coffin Hunt, later Cadwallader (1786-1859), had preached in Philadelphia in 1823 against the predilection of some Quakers towards wealth and vanity (H. Larry Ingle, Quakers in Conflict, Knoxville, Tenn., 1986, 50-51). [back to text]

6. The World's Anti-Slavery Convention voted on June 12 to exclude the American woman delegates of which LCM was one. Garrison and New Hampshire newspaperman Nathaniel P. Rogers (1794-1846) arrived in London on June 18. LCM met Anna Isabella Milbanke (1792-1860), Lady Byron, at the convention on June 18, and the Irish leader of the Catholic Emancipation movement Daniel O'Connell (1775-1847) on June 15. The letters of O'Connell and British writer William Howitt (1792-1879) protested the convention's rejection of the woman delegates. Howitt declared that the women were excluded because they were considered "heretics," but this action contradicted Quaker doctrine which stipulated that "There is no sex in Souls." James Mott's Three Months in Great Britain was published in 1841. Dr. John Bowring (1792-1872), reformer and literary critic, spoke against the exclusion of woman and entertained the Motts several times in London. His letter of November 9, 1840, to Garrison appeared in the Liberator, December 25, 1840:207. (see LCM's diary, Slavery and the "Woman Question", ed. Frederick B. Tolles, Haverford, Pa., 1952, 29-30, 33, 35-37, 53, 57. O'Connell and Howitt's letters of June 20 and June 27, 1840, were published in Anna Davis Hallowell, James and Lucretia Mott: Life and Letters, Boston, 1884, 471-77). [back to text]

7. LCM described as "inconsistent" the seating of Elizabeth Fry (1780-1845), a Quaker minister, and the philanthropist Harriet Elizabeth Georgiana Leveson-Gower, Duchess of Sutherland (1806-68), on the platform at the Exeter Hall meeting on June 24. According to LCM, the Irish Quaker James C. Fuller (1793?-1847), who had emigrated to New York in the 1830s, told the women delegates that the convention authorities had been "put on their guard" because "so many of us were not of their faith." Anne Knight (1792-1862), a Chelmsford writer, socialized frequently with the Motts in London. The Motts visited the writer Harriet Martineau (1802-76) at her home in Tynemouth on August 16 where they spent two or three hours in "pleasant conversation." (Martineau's letter to LCM is reprinted in Tolles, 79; see also 25-27, 30, 32-36, 45, 73). Sarah Pugh (1800-84) and Abby Kimber (1804-71), woman's rights activists from Philadelphia, had also been American delegates to the World's Anti-Slavery Convention. [back to text]

8. Maria Weston Chapman returned in November 1855 from seven years travel in Europe. [back to text]

9. Jeremiah 5:21. "Hear now this, foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes and see not; which have ears and hear not." [back to text]

10. The Congregational minister Antoinette L. Brown (1825-1921) had spoken in Philadelphia in January when LCM described her as giving "great satisfaction" to a full house (LCM to Martha Coffin Wright, January 24, 1855, Mott MSS, Swarthmore). Emma R. Coe, formerly a lecturer on women's rights, had registered as a law student in January 1855 in the office of Philadelphia antislavery leader and judge William Pierce (Letters of William Lloyd Garrison, 4, ed. Louis Ruchames, Cambridge, 1975, 324). Lucy Stone (1818-93) had begun her speaking career against slavery and for woman's rights in 1848. Anthony (1820-1906) and Ernestine L. Rose (1810-92), along with Antoinette Brown, had recently spoken on woman's rights at the Albany County Convention, February 13-14. Stanton's address of February 14, 1854, to the New York legislature reviewed the legal disabilities of woman, including the right to vote and a trial by jury, under the current constitution. Stanton also pointed out that the marriage contract should be treated like other civil contracts, with the two parties retaining their independence and rights (Selected Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, ed., Ann D. Gordon, New Brunswick, New Jersey, 1997, 1:302-03, 240-55). [back to text]

11. Meeting at the Waterloo home of Jane Master Hunt, Mary Ann McClintock (1800-84), Stanton, LCM, and her sister, Martha Coffin Wright (1806-75), of Auburn, New York, had planned the woman's rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York. That convention, held on July 19-20 1848, and attended by over 100 woman and men, included McClintock's husband, Thomas, and her two daughters, Mary Ann and Elizabeth. The report of the convention stated, "LUCRETIA MOTT, of Philadelphia, was the moving spirit of the occasion" (ibid., 75-88; "Proceedings of the Woman's Rights Conventions held at Seneca Falls & Rochester, N. Y.," N. Y., 1870, 3). Someone else has underlined the passage beginning "In thy coming work" to the end of the paragraph in pencil and blue ink, not the brown ink of LCM's letter. [back to text]

12. Stanton did not write a history for many years. The first volume of the History of Woman Suffrage (N. Y., 1881) devotes three chapters and 62 pages to events preceding the Seneca Falls convention. Of those LCM names, Stanton mentions the work of the Grimkés, Brown, Anthony, Stone, and LCM. [back to text]

Back to Mott Home Page