A Very Dangerous Woman: Martha Wright and Women's Rights

A Very Dangerous Woman: Martha Wright and Women's Rights


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"A very dangerous woman" is what Martha Coffin Wright's conservative neighbors considered her, because of her work in the women's rights and abolition movements. In 1848, Wright and her older sister Lucretia Mott were among the five brave women who organized the historic Seneca Falls Women's Rights Convention. Wright remained a prominent figure in the women's movement until her death in 1875 at age sixty-eight, when she was president of the National Woman Suffrage Association. At age twenty-six, she attended the 1833 founding of the American Anti-Slavery Society and later presided over numerous antislavery meetings, including two in 1861 that were disrupted by angry antiabolitionist mobs. Active in the Underground Railroad, she sheltered fugitive slaves and was a close friend and supporter of Harriet Tubman.

In telling Wright's story, the authors make good use of her lively letters to her family, friends, and colleagues, including Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. These letters reveal Wright's engaging wit and offer an insider's view of nineteenth-century reform and family life. Her correspondence with slaveholding relatives in the South grew increasingly contentious with the approach of the Civil War. One nephew became a hero of the Confederacy with his exploits at the Battle of Fredericksburg, and her son in the Union artillery was seriously wounded at Gettysburg while repelling Pickett's Charge.

Wright's life never lacked for drama. She survived a shipwreck, spent time at a frontier fort, experienced the trauma of the deaths of a fiancé, her first husband, and three of her seven children, and navigated intense conflicts within the women's rights and abolition movements. Throughout her tumultuous career, she drew on a reservoir of humor to promote her ideas and overcome the many challenges she faced. This accessible biography, written with the general reader in mind, does justice to her remarkable life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781558494473
Publisher: University of Massachusetts Press
Publication date: 07/21/2004
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 6.16(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.85(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Sherry H. Penney is former chancellor and currently holder of the Sherry H. Penney Professorship of Leadership in the College of Management at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Her husband, James D. Livingston, a direct descendant of Martha Wright, teaches materials science at MIT and also writes on American history.

What People are Saying About This

Christopher Densmore

Beyond those specifically interested in reform, this book will attract a wider audience interested in biography and women's lives. The 'plot' of Martha Coffin Wright's life is inherently dramatic and well captured by this book.

Judith Wellman

This is a highly readable, very well researched book about an important woman whose life raises major questions about freedom, rights, religion, family, race, and women's roles generally. Wright is so wonderfully witty and so quotable.... Who would not love to read this book?

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A Very Dangerous Woman: Martha Wright and Women's Rights 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
book58lover on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Martha Wright is one of the five women who planned and executed the first Woman's Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, NY in 1848. The sister of Lucretia Mott and friends of Quakers Jane Hunt and Maryann M'Clintock she was a continuous presence in the suffrage movement. Written by descendents of Wright it outlines her experiences leading up to the convention and what she did after to press for the vote even though she lived in the small village of Auburn NY, between Seneca Falls on the west and Syracuse on the east. This is the only book I know of about Wright and it is worth reading.