• First Wave Statue Exhibit

    Women's Rights

    National Historical Park New York

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    Beginning on December 30, 2013 the park will be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. The park will be open Wednesday-Sunday from 9 am to 5 pm

Martha C. Wright

Bronze statue of Martha Wright

Martha Wright as sculpted by Lloyd Lillie for the park visitor center.

NPS

Martha Coffin Wright (1806-75) was the youngest of eight children; her sister Lucretia Coffin Mott was the second oldest. Throughout her life Martha worked in reform alongside her sister Lucretia Mott. Martha, however, preferred to take a supportive role, frequently serving as secretary, while her sister Lucretia was frequently the keynote speaker at public meetings.

In 1848 Wright was living with her husband David and four children in Auburn, New York, ten miles to the east of Seneca Falls. Martha Wright was several months pregnant that summer, and Lucretia and James Mott were staying with Martha and her family. On July 19, 1848, the first day of the Seneca Falls First Women’s Rights Convention, Lucretia Mott and Martha Wright arrived by train from Auburn and accepted Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s invitation to stay the night at her home before attending the second day’s activities. At the afternoon session on the first day, the Report noted that “Lucretia Mott read a humorous article from a newspaper, written by Martha C. Wright.”

After organizing the First Women’s Rights Convention, Martha Wright participated in many state and national women’s rights conventions in various capacities. She was secretary at the 1852 and 1856 National Women’s Rights Conventions, served as an officer at the 1853 and 1854 National Women’s Rights Conventions and presided over the National Women’s Rights Convention in 1855 in Ohio and the New York State Women’s Rights Convention held in Saratoga that year.

Martha C. Wright was also an ardent abolitionist and ran her home in Auburn as a station on the Underground Railroad, frequently allowing fugitive slaves to sleep in the kitchen. In a letter to her sister from Auburn, New York on December 30, 1860, Martha C. Wright wrote:

…We have been expending our sympathies, as well as congratulations, on seven newly arrived slaves that Harriet Tubman has just pioneered safely from the Southern Part of Maryland.--One woman carried a baby all the way and bro’t [sic] two other chld’n that Harriet and the men helped along. They bro’t a piece of old comfort and a blanket, in a basket with a little kindling, a little bread for the baby with some laudanum to keep it from crying during the day. They walked all night carrying the little ones, and spread the old comfort on the frozen ground, in some dense thicket where they all hid, while Harriet went out foraging, and sometimes cd not get back till dark, fearing she wd be followed. Then, if they had crept further in, and she couldn’t find them, she wd whistle, or sing certain hymns and they wd answer.

Did You Know?

Wesleyan Chapel, site of the First Women's Rights Convention, as it appears today.

Did you know the women's rights movement formally began in the Wesleyan Chapel in Seneca Falls, New York? More...