A Photograph of Lucretia Mott

A photograph of Lucretia Mott was taken around 1875.  It depicts her in a traditional Quaker bonnet and dress with a shawl, seated.  The photographer was Frederick Gutekunst, the “dean of American photographers”, who took the pictures of many celebrated personages, including Lincoln, Whitman, Longfellow and Grant.  In addition, he was known for his photographs of the Pennsylvania Railroad and the Gettysburg battlefield.  The original photograph rests now in the Library of Congress.  Three other photographs and two paintings also show Mott, either as an individual or in a group.

Lucretia Mott (1793-1880) was a member of Abington (PYM) Meeting.  Raised a Nantucket Quaker, she attended the Nine Partners Friends School.  In 1821 she became a Quaker minister, and in 1827 she joined with other Friends to form the Hicksite branch of Quakers.  She was also a clerk of the Philadelphia Women’s Yearly Meeting and helped found Swarthmore College.  Mott was a prominent abolitionist and feminist, participating in the American Anti-Slavery Society and the Equal Rights Association.  She assisted slaves to escape through the Underground Railroad.  During the 1838 Pennsylvania Hall riot she was threatened with violence by a pro-slavery mob.  A pacifist, Mott was active in the Universal Peace Union, of which she was vice-president. The Portrait Monument in the United States Capitol Rotunda commemorates her, along with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. 

The Lucretia Mott photograph is striking, a clear picture of Lucretia Mott’s indomitable spirit.

Gary Sandman

September 2022

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