Martha Coffin Wright

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Martha Coffin Wright
Martha Coffin Wright
Martha Coffin Wright
Born December 25, 1806 (1806-12-25)
Boston, Massachusetts
Died 1875 (1876) (aged 68)
Occupation American activist

Martha Coffin Wright (December 25, 1806 – 1875) was an American feminist, abolitionist, and signatory of the Declaration of Sentiments.

Early life

Martha Coffin was born in Boston, Massachusetts on Christmas Day 1806, the youngest child of Anna Folger and Thomas Coffin, a merchant and former Nantucket ship captain. After the Coffin family moved to Philadelphia, Martha was educated at Quaker schools.

Martha married Captain Peter Pelham (1785-1826) of Kentucky in 1824 and moved with him to a frontier fort at Tampa Bay, Florida. They had a daughter. Peter died in July 1826, leaving Martha a nineteen-year-old widow with an infant child. She moved to upstate New York to teach painting and writing at a Quaker school for girls. She married a young law student named David Wright and had six more children.

Seneca Falls Convention

Martha's older sister Lucretia Coffin Mott was a prominent Quaker preacher. In July 1848, she visited Martha's home in Auburn, New York. During that visit, Martha and Lucretia met with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and two other women and decided to hold a convention in nearby Seneca Falls, New York, to discuss the need for greater rights for women.

The importance of the Seneca Falls Convention, the first women's rights convention, was recognized by Congress in 1980 with the creation of the Women's Rights National Historical Park at the site, administered by the National Park Service. The Park's Visitor Center today features a group of life-size bronze statues to honor the women and men who in 1848 initiated the organized movement for women's rights and woman suffrage. Her statue shows her, as she was then, visibly pregnant. In 2005, the park featured a display about the relationship between Lucretia and Martha. In 2008, the park featured a display focused on Martha.

Women's rights and abolitionism


After the Seneca Falls Convention Martha Wright participated in a number of state conventions and the annual National Women's Rights Conventions in various capacities, often serving as President. She was also active in the abolition movement. The arguments for women's rights had much in common with the arguments for abolition. With her sister Lucretia, Martha attended the founding meeting of the American Anti-Slavery Society in Philadelphia in 1833.

Underground Railroad

Martha's home in Auburn, New York, was part of the Underground Railroad where she harbored fugitive slaves. She became a close friend and supporter of Harriet Tubman.

Ellen Wright

Martha's daughter Ellen Wright (1840–1931) was an advocate of women's rights, especially woman suffrage. In 1864, she married William Lloyd Garrison, Jr. (1838–1909), a prominent advocate of Henry George's single tax movement, free trade, woman's suffrage, and of the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act. William was the son of abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison. Ellen and William's daughter, Eleanor Garrison (1880–1974), worked for the National American Woman Suffrage Association.


On October 9, 2007 House resolution 588 entitled "Recognizing Martha Coffin Wright on the 200th anniversary of her birth and her induction into the National Women's Hall of Fame" passed in the U.S. House of Representatives.[1]


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