What are some important details about Francis Cabot Lowell and Lucretia Mott? How were these figures involved in reform?  

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jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Born on the eve of the American Revolution in 1775, Francis Cabot Lowell is credited with bringing textile mills to the United States. On a trip to England when he was in his 30s, he toured textile mills and decided to bring this technology to the U.S.

In 1813, he founded the Boston Manufacturing Company with other investors. He and his partners used the British power loom but introduced improvements in its functioning, and they also sold shares in their company. In Waltham, Massachusetts, Lowell built a mill that would become the model for other mills by incorporating several different forms of mechanization that turned cotton into cloth. Formerly, this process had been largely done by hand in different locations--not in one building.

Lowell also began employing farm girls from New England in his mills in a system that in some ways tried to replicate the ideals of the cult of domesticity. Even though the mill girls were living far from home, they at first lived in chaperoned boarding houses. Lowell also afforded them the opportunity to attend religious and educational events.

After he died in 1817, the city of Lowell, Massachusetts, an industrial town, was named after him. The Lowell system, as the factory system that Lowell devised was called, was later replicated in factories in New England and then in the Midwest and South. Though Lowell himself was not a figure in the reform movement, his employment of farm girls in his mills, while controversial to many at the time, provided women a source of employment and degree of freedom that they would not otherwise have enjoyed (though it should be noted that he paid women less than men).

Lucretia Mott was a pioneering figure in women's rights. She was a Quaker born in 1793 in Nantucket, and she originally became involved in the abolitionist movement. Along with others, she founded the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society, and she went to London in 1840 to attend the World Anti-Slavery Convention. However, she and other women, including fellow future women's rights leader Elizabeth Cady Stanton, were turned away from the meeting because they were women.

Determined to fight for women's rights because of this humiliating event, Mott, Stanton and others organized the First Women's Rights Convention, which was held in Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848. This convention produced the Declaration of Sentiments, modeled on the Declaration of Independence, to advocate for women's rights. Mott continued to be active in the abolitionist movement and women's rights, and she was a member of the American Equal Rights Association that advocated for women's rights and those of African-Americans. 

 

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