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Lives of Girls Who Became Famous Sarah Knowles Bolton

Lucretia Mott

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Captain Coffin meantime had died, leaving his family poor. James could do so little for them all with his limited salary, that he determined to open a small store; but the experiment proved a failure. His health began to be affected by this ill success, when Lucretia, with her brave heart, said, "My cousin and I will open a school; thee must not get discouraged, James."

The school was opened with four pupils, each paying seven dollars a quarter. The young wife put so much good cheer and earnestness into her work, that soon there were forty pupils in the school. Mr. Mott's prospects now brightened, for he was earning one thousand dollars a year. The young couple were happy in their hard work, for they loved each other, and love lightens all care and labor.

But soon a sorrow worse than poverty came. Their only son, Thomas, a most affectionate child, died, saying with his latest breath, "I love thee, mother." It was a crushing blow; but it proved a blessing in the end, leading her thoughts heavenward.

A few months afterwards her voice was heard for the first time in public, in prayer, in one of the Friends' meetings. The words were simple, earnest, eloquent. The good Quakers marvelled, and encouraged the "gift." They did not ask whether man or woman brought the message, so it came from heaven.

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And now, at twenty-five, having resigned her position as teacher, she began close study of the Bible and theological books. She had four children to care for, did all her sewing, even cutting and making her own dresses; but she learned what every one can learn,--to economize time. Her house was kept scrupulously clean. She says: "I omitted much unnecessary stitching and ornamental work in the sewing for my family, so that I might have more time for the improvement of my mind. For novels and light reading I never had much taste; the ladies' department in the periodicals of the day had no attraction for me. "She would lay a copy of William Penn's ponderous volumes open at the foot of her bed, and drawing her chair close to it, with her baby on her lap, would study the book diligently. A woman of less energy and less will-power than young Mrs. Mott would have given up all hope of being a scholar. She read the best books in philosophy and science. John Stuart Mill and Dean Stanley, though widely different, were among her favorite authors.

James Mott was now prospering in the cotton business, so that they could spare time to go in their carriage and speak at the Quaker meetings in the surrounding country. Lucretia would be so absorbed in thought as not to notice the beauties of the landscape, which her husband always greatly enjoyed. Pointing out a fine view to her, she replied, "Yes, it is beautiful, now that thou points it out, but I should not have noticed it. I have always taken more interest in human nature." From a child she was deeply interested for the slave. She had read in her school-books Clarkson's description of the slave ships, and these left an impression never to be effaced. When, Dec. 4, 1833, a convention met in Philadelphia for the purpose of forming the American Anti-Slavery Society, Lucretia Mott was one of the four women who braved the social obloquy, as friends of the despised abolitionists. She spoke, and was listened to with attention. Immediately the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society was formed, and Mrs. Mott became its president and its inspiration. So unheard of a thing was an association of women, and so unaccustomed were they to the methods of organization, that they were obliged to call a colored man to the chair to assist them.

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Lives of Girls Who Became Famous
Sarah Knowles Bolton

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