The oldest child of progressive Quakers Thomas and Mary Ann M’Clintock, Elizabeth Wilson M’Clintock was born in Philadelphia in 1821.
On July 16, 1848 Elizabeth M'Clintock participated in the convention planning meeting at her parent's home. Before the meeting she received the following letter -
She was also responsible for inviting Frederick Douglass, a friend through the Western New York Anti-Slavery Society, to the convention. He accepted her invitation, writing,
Elizabeth’s avid interest in women’s rights was fueled by her determination to see women accepted in the so-called “public sphere” of business, an area dominated by men in the 19th century. The 1850 census reveals that Elizabeth M’Clintock was the only woman in Waterloo listed with an occupation, which was clerk in her father’s drugstore. In 1849 Elizabeth asked Lucretia Mott's son-in-law, Edward Davis, to accept her as an apprentice in his silk business in Philadelphia. Davis replied that she was too old to join the business and did not have the requisite experience. Some of his employees responded with open hostility to her request, lampooning the notion of a woman working outside her “proper sphere.” Elizabeth responded with a series of cartoons depicting the benefits that could be derived by including women in the workforce. In 1861 Elizabeth was given the opportunity to open her own shawl and hosiery business in Philadelphia with the financial backing of her father, and she proved a capable businesswoman.
Like the rest of her family, Elizabeth was also committed to the abolition of slavery. In 1843 she and Rhoda Bement organized an antislavery fair in Seneca Falls to raise money for the antislavery movement. An advertisement for the fair appeared in the October 4, 1843 edition of the Seneca Falls Observer:
In 1852 Elizabeth married Burroughs Phillips, a lawyer and the nephew of fellow convention organizer Jane Hunt. He died just two years later after falling from his carriage and landing on his head. Elizabeth never remarried.
Last updated: April 4, 2023