That is the portrait Robin painted as about 20 people gathered at Historic Fair Hill Burial Ground in North Philadelphia to celebrate and promote Mott's achievements. The program, called "Lucretia Mott: The Greatest American Woman" was organized by Historic Fair Hill and Moonstone Arts Center, a cultural arts program that grew out of Robin's Bookstore, the Center City hub that closed last year after 76 years.
"There is a continuous history of progressive women fighting for social change from the beginning of the 19th century and the first is Lucretia Mott," Robin told the group as they gathered by her modest grave.Born in Nantucket, the Quaker minister grew up in a whaling town where men were often away for weeks at a time. Mott learned from the self-reliant women in the community that she "could do anything," Robin said.
In 1810, Mott settled in Philadelphia with her husband James, later moving to Cheltenham, Montgomery County, where the village of La Mott is named for her.
As a Quaker, Mott opposed slavery, but she wasn't content to just believe in the abolitionist cause, said Christopher Densmore, curator of Friends Historical Library at Swarthmore College.
"Mott was willing to become engaged with the world's people, to be make alliances outside the Society of Friends and to vigorously denounce slavery," said Densmore, who will also discuss Mott on Monday at Voices of Women, a Moonstone program which examines the struggle for women's rights.
Mott turned her home into a stop on the underground railroad and physically protected a woman on trial for escaping her owner.
Along the way, Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton organized he first conference to address women's rights in Seneca Falls, New York.
Stanton wrote of her first encounter with Mott: "It was like meeting a being from some larger planet to find a woman who dared to question the opinions of popes, kings, senates, parliaments...."
Mott and her husband, also were important figures in the founding of Swarthmore College, Women's Medical College and and Moore College of Art.
Yet Mott's name is not as widely known as her activist contemporaries, suffragettes Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, and abolitionists such as William Lloyd Garrison.
Perhaps her activism in so many progressive movements, diluted her notoriety in any one, said Carol Faulkner, author of Lucretia Mott's Heresy: Abolition and Women's Rights in Nineteenth-Century America.
Also, among the abolitionists, women were often overshadowed by the men, said Faulkner.Susan Parsons Reed, of West Deptford, N.J., stood near the grave with her fiance, William Knab.
Mott was a role model at a time when woman weren't supposed to speak up, Reed said, " and some people think we still shouldn't."
Contact Kristin E. Holmes at 610-313-8211 or email@example.com.