Document 7: Excerpts from letter from Martha Coffin Wright to David Wright, 23 October 1853, Garrison Family Papers, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College.
In October 1853, Martha Wright traveled with her sister Lucretia Mott to serve as a secretary of the Fourth National Woman’s Rights Convention in Cleveland, at which Mott, Lucy Stone, and Lydia Jenkins were among the speakers. While in Ohio, they also made stops in Salem and Cincinnati, where they spoke again. On their return, they visited Maysville, Kentucky, the hometown of Martha’s first husband, Peter Pelham. Peter’s brother John and several of his sisters now occupied Cottonbush, the family home, which remained in the Pelham family until 1888. John, a slaveowner, was worried that Mott might give an antislavery speech, which she indeed did. After the visit, the sisters continued to Philadelphia and then to Norristown, Pennsylvania to attend an Anti-Slavery Convention. Martha wrote to her husband from there.
Norristown, Oct 23rd, ’53
My dear David
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I wrote you, as I mentioned, the last time at Cincinnati--a pencilled note. Was that the one you recd. Another previously I sent from Salem O. & one from Cleveland. We staid at the elegant Burnet House in Cincinnati and were invited on Friday to tea with Mrs. Ernst whose residence is on a high hill overlooking the city. Her husband has planted nearly every tree seen from the windows, on the hill--and beautiful they are--how I wished you were there to see all the beauties & to see the gorgeous river scenery with its glowing autumnal tints, on which I feasted my eyes for so many days. But to return to Mrs. Ernst’s. We met Lucy Stone there and had a pleasant visit--left immediately after tea for the meeting appointed for Sister L., Lucy Stone[A] & Lydia Jenkins.[B] The Hall was a beautiful one, crowded with 1300 people, & hundreds went away. It was the first lecture on Woman’s rights the people there had ever listened to--and they appeared to enjoy it & urged Sister L. to stay to the following mgs. but she tho’t Lucy fairly competent & had made arrangements for the meeting at Maysville. We took the boat Saturday morning, but the river being low, we had to go slowly and did not reach there till 11 o’clk--found John Pelham waiting for us with his carriage, and the welcome he had promised us, and there was no part of my journey more delightful to me, than the visit to those connections. We had a pleasant moonlight drive of 3 miles, over a plank road part of the way, & very smooth the other part, & the sisters all came out to meet us at the gate. We only staid that night & the next day till after dinner & John & two sisters & two nieces accompanied us to the mg in town. John said to me he hoped Mrs. Mott wd. not allude to Slavery--the notice had been given for a religious meeting. I told him that Anti Slavery was eminently religious, that Col. Stevenson had told her she might say what she pleased on the subject & that it was for that she came. She felt herself called of God, & it is not for me, sd I, to come between her, & her convictions of duty. I told him no one wd. hold him responsible for her utterances. I took good care not to embarrass her by repeating the conversation and she spoke very freely, & I never heard a more enthusiastic expression of assent. She was urged to speak again on Woman’s Rights in the evening, & consented to, unless a boat should come along--as no one did till 11 o’clk, she had a crowded meeting, in the Court House, some of the churches having adjourned their meetings at the suggestion of Col. Stephenson, I was told.
Evening at Edwd Hoppers.[C] I have to go right down to the Mayers with Edwd so can only say I was happy to find here yr letter to Maysville, sent with a line from John Pelham. Good night my dear husband, I will write again as soon as I have time & hope to hear again soon from you. I hope Chas. Wood[D] will contradict that atrocious statement--that distorted account of the Con.
Affy, Yr. M.
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A. Lucy Stone (1818-1893) had graduated Oberlin College in 1847. At the time of this letter, Stone was a prominent abolitionist and woman’s rights lecturer. Later, in 1855, she married Henry Blackwell but chose to keep her own name.
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B. Lydia Ann Moulton Jenkins (1824/25-1874) was a native of Auburn, New York. For further information on Jenkins, see Ann D. Gordon, ed., The Selected Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton & Susan B. Anthony (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1997), p. 211.
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C. Edward Hopper was a Philadelphia lawyer and son-in-law of Lucretia Mott.
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D. Charles Wood was an Auburn businessman and friend of the Wrights.
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