Biographical Database of Militant Suffragists, 1913-1920
Biography of Isabella Mott, 1886-?
By Jacqueline Charlot, undergraduate student, State University of New York at Oneonta
Activist, New York Branch of the Congressional Union, and National Woman's Party
Isabella Mott was born to Lillas Amoret Baker and Frederick Gates Mott on August 28, 1886 in Bouckville, New York, and, by 1910 made her home in Hamilton, New York. Isabella Mott was a significant contributor to the women's suffrage movement, helping women activists fight for what they believed was right.
Sometimes criticized as a society woman, Isabella Mott traveled extensively around the country for women's suffrage. She joined the New York branch of the Congressional Union (later the National Woman's Party), and also traveled as a CU organizer as early as 1915. She was appointed to this position when she went to Washington in the hopes of assisting with the efforts of the Congressional Union. She began lobbying New York State representatives in the legislature that year, but returned to New York since so many were "absentee statesmen." Mott campaigned for boycotting the Democratic party, often working side by side with Alice Paul, and stating "We propose to defeat the Democratic party in the Democratic states unless it favors our petition." She continued working with the CU when the organization separated from the mainstream National American Woman Suffrage Association in 1914.
Newspapers noted her presence in various cities in Rhode Island, Maryland, Ohio, and Pennsylvania when she arrived to speak about the importance of passing a federal amendment enfranchising women. In December 1915, Mott joined the delegation of suffrage leaders that President Woodrow Wilson received at the White House. Mott also picketed the White House with her friend Elizabeth White Colt in January 1917.
"Mrs. Stone Joins Council," Washington Herald, February 7, 1915, 12.
"Democrats Bluffing, Suffragist Intimates," Evening Star [Washington, DC], February 15, 1915, 9.
"Congressional Union to Meet Sunday Afternoon," Washington Times, February 16, 1915, 3; "City News in Brief," Washington Post, February 16, 1915, 4.
"Plans Maryland Campaign," Evening Star [Washington, DC], March 18, 1915, 14.
"Suffrage Leaders Visitors," Baltimore Sun, March 19, 1915, 4.
"Women to Boycott Party," Washington Post, March 21, 1915, 16.
"More Speakers Listed for Suffrage Meeting," Evening Star [Washington, DC], March 26, 1915, 24.
"Suffragists to Push Amendment," Tampa Times, March 26, 1915, 13.
"Sound Suffrage Tocsin," Baltimore Sun, April 1, 1915, 10.
"Woman's Herald," Washington Herald, July 21, 1915, 6.
"Campaign for Votes Planned," Statesman Journal [Salem, Oregon], October 30, 1915, 3.
"Open Campaign for Amendment," Daily Republican [Rushville, IN], December 6, 1915, 6.
"Miss Mott to Urge Federal Amendment," Harrisburg Telegraph [Pennsylvania], February 16, 1916, 4.
"Suffrage Talk Saturday," Harrisburg Telegraph [Pennsylvania], February 23, 1916, 4.
Isabella Mott is not mentioned in Doris Stevens, Jailed for Freedom (New York: Boni and Liveright, 1920).
The Sophia Smith Collection has a photograph of Isabella Mott with Eleanor Garrison, with both women wearing suffrage sashes: https://www.smith.edu/libraries/libs/ssc/atg/popupgarrison4.html.
The National Woman's Party Collection has a photograph of Mott and Elizabeth Colt picketing in front of the White House on January 26, 1917. Catalog number 1917.001.055 http://nationalwomansparty.pastperfectonline.com/photo/F12CCE98-8593-477D-90AA-948455621111.
Another photograph of her appears in the Harrisburg Telegraph for February 16, 1916, 4.