Martha Coffin Wright (1806-75) was the youngest of eight children and the sister of Lucretia Coffin Mott. Wright is described by Ann D. Gordon, editor of the Stanton and Anthony papers, as "a stalwart of the state antislavery society and ...one of the inner circle of woman's rights leaders until the end of her life. An avid letter writer and wit, she left a valuable archives of correspondence on woman's rights and woman suffrage." (Stanton and Anthony Papers, Vol 1, 75)
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 continued her active involvement in state and national women’s rights conventions of the 1850s. She spoke and served as secretary at the Syracuse convention in 1852, Cleveland in 1853, and New York City in 1856. She served as vice president in Philadelphia in 1854 and presided over national woman's rights convention in Saratoga and Cincinnati in 1855 and New York City in 1860.
Martha C. Wright was also an ardent abolitionist and friend of Harriet Tubman. She ran her home in Auburn as a station on the Underground Railroad, frequently allowing freedom seekers to sleep in the kitchen. In a letter to her daughter Ellen 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.
Last updated: April 4, 2023