The family removed to Boston in 1804. Her parents belonged to the religious Society of Friends, and carefully cultivated in their children, the peculiarities as well as the principles of that sect. To this early training, we may ascribe the rigid adherence of Mrs. Mott, to the beautiful but sober costume of the Society.
When in London, in 1840, she visited the Zoological Gardens, and a gentleman of the party, pointing out the splendid plumage of some tropical birds, remarked: “You see, Mrs. Mott, our heavenly Father believes in bright colors. How much it would take from our pleasure, if all the birds were dressed in drab.” “Yes;” she replied, “but immortal beings do not depend upon feathers for their attractions. With the infinite variety of the human face and form, of thought, feeling and affection, we do not need gorgeous apparel to distinguish us. Moreover, if it is fitting that woman should dress in every color of the rainbow, why not man also? Clergymen, with their black clothes and white cravats, are quite as monotonous as the Quakers.” Whatever may be the abstract merit of this argument, it is certain that the simplicity of Lucretia Mott’s nature, is beautifully expressed by her habitual costume.
In giving the principal events of Lucretia Mott’s life, we prefer to use her own language whenever possible. In memoranda furnished by her to Elizabeth Cady Stanton, she says: “My father had a desire to make his daughters useful. At fourteen years of age, I was placed, with a younger sister, at the Friends’ Boarding School, in Dutchess county, State of New York, and continued there for more than two years, without returning home. At fifteen, one of the teachers leaving the school, I was chosen as an assistant in her place. Pleased with the promotion, I strove hard to give satisfaction, and was gratified, on leaving the school, to have an offer of a situation as teacher if I was disposed to remain; and informed that my services should entitle another sister to her education, without charge. My father was at that time, in successful business in Boston, but with his views of the importance of training a woman to usefulness, he and my mother gave their consent to another year being devoted to that institution.” Here is another instance of the immeasurable value of wise parental influence.
In 1809 Lucretia joined her family in Philadelphia, whither they had removed. “At the early age of eighteen,” she says, “I married James Mott, of New York—an attachment formed while at the boarding-school.” Mr. Mott entered into business with her father. Then followed commercial depressions, the war of 1812, the death of her father, and the family became involved in difficulties. Mrs. Mott was again obliged to resume teaching. “These trials,” she says, “in early life, were not without their good effect in disciplining the mind, and leading it to set a just estimate on worldly pleasures.”