Lucretia Mott's Heresy
Abolition and Women's Rights in Nineteenth-Century America
University of Pennsylvania Press 2011
New Books in American StudiesNew Books in Gender StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Intellectual HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network April 13, 2015 Lilian Calles Barger
Carol Faulkner is Professor of History at Syracuse University. Her book Lucretia Mott’s Heresy: Abolition and Women’s Rights in Nineteenth-Century America (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011) is a beautifully written biography of the abolitionist and Quaker Lucretia Mott. Committed to liberty and equality based on the divine light within, Mott was one the earliest American activist for immediate emancipation and by extension the full rights of women. Faulkner argues that Mott has been cast as a demure religious matron rather than the radical firebrand she was. Partly, this is due to Mott not having left many of her thoughts in writing, expressing herself primarily through long extemporaneous speeches. Faulkner corrects for this by providing vivid details of Mott’s life and takes us through the Nantucket childhood and time at Nine Partners Boarding School where she received the best education of the era; her joining the Hickite movement; collaboration with William Lloyd Garrison and the founding of the interracial Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society; and her connections with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and women’s rights. Mott considered herself a heretic rejecting dogma, church authority, and the preeminence of scripture for an ethic of pacifism, individual liberty, and radical equality. Her theological views are brought into sharp relief against the backdrop of multiple schisms within Quakerism and anti-slavery. Rather than a frail and domestic Mott, Faulkner offers a courageous ideologue unafraid to risk her own safety in defense of principle, committed to moral suasion, immediate emancipation, and vilified for her disruptive outspokenness.