Hannah Mather Crocker

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Hannah Crocker (June 27, 1752, in the North end of Boston – July 11, 1829, in Roxbury, Mass) was an American essayist and one of the first advocates of women's rights in America, as well as a pioneer for women involved in Freemasonry and a spy in the American Revolution.[1] She was born into the illustrious Mather family of Boston, and heir to its long history of Puritan activism. Her most important contribution was the 1818 book Observations on the Real Rights of Women in which she argued that education was crucial to the advancement of women. This included a courageous defense of Mary Wollstonecraft, who, in Boston society, was viewed as a libertine. Crocker's work was the first book by an American author on the rights of women.[1]


Hannah Mather born on June 27, 1752 in the North End of Boston. She was the daughter of Samuel Mather, a Congregationalist minister, and Hannah Hutchinson. As a result of her fathers profession she was brought up in a religious environment and had a strong religious belief throughout her life. Additionally, her father was an educated man who believed in the importance of educating women, which lead to her passion for women's rights. She was extensively taught in language, history, theology, and literature, and read often. In Reminiscences and Traditions of Boston, she recounts spying for American forces on the eve of the American Revolution as a teenager. She married Joseph Crocker in 1779. Joseph Crocker was a Harvard Graduate and a captain in the Revolutionary War. Joseph was also an advocate for women's rights. He penned an essay called the North Square Creed in which he makes the case for women's self-determination and voice in marriage.[2] With Crocker she had 10 children between 1780 and 1795. During her marriage she became involved in Freemasonry, and worked to advance women's place in society by founding a lodge for the betterment of women on masonic values. She also spent a lot of time writing, and became a well-known essayist and poet. In 1812 she founded the School of Industry to help disadvantaged girls learn vocational skills and eventually become economically independent. She died on July 11, 1829.


Hannah Mather Crocker's great-great-grandfather was Richard Mather who started the Mather Dynasty. Richard Mather’s most famed son was Increase Mather. Increase had an important role in stirring up the controversial event that was the Salem Witch Trials. Increase’s son Cotton Mather also participated in the Salem Witch Trials, but he was better known for what may be the founding idea behind the theory for vaccine. Cotton’s son Samuel also went into the church life and was the father of Hannah. Hannah Hutchinson's brother was Thomas Hutchinson, governor of Boston.

Life's Works[edit]

Before her marriage, Hannah Mather Crocker spied for American forces before the American Revolution. After raising her children, she took up a career in writing. Some of her most famed works include: A Series of Letters on Free Masonry, North Square Creed, The School of Reform; or, Seaman's Safe Pilot to the Cape of Good Hope and Observations on the Real Rights of Women, with Their Appropriate Duties, Reminiscences and Traditions of Boston, Agreeable to Scripture, Reason and Common Sense. In Observations on the Real Rights of Women, Crocker argued that men and women were in all ways equal. She also founded St Anne's Lodge, an all-female lodge for learning about literature and science founded on masonic values.[3][4]


  1. ^ a b Taylor, Marion Ann (2006). Heather E. Weir,, ed. Let her speak for herself : nineteenth-century women writing on the women in Genesis. Waco, Tex.: Baylor University Press. ISBN 1932792538. 
  2. ^ Botting, Eileen Hunt, and Sarah L. Houser. ""Drawing the Line of Equality": Hannah Mather Crocker on Women's Rights." The American Political Science Review 100, no. 2 (2006): 265-78
  3. ^ L.W. Koengeter, “Crocker, Hannah Mather,” in American Women Writers, ed. Taryn Benbow-Pfalzgraf, vol. 1, 2nd ed. (Detroit: St. James Press, 2000), 241.
  4. ^ BenjaminFranklin V., “Crocker, Hannah Mather,” in American National Biography, ed. John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, vol. 5 (New York: Oxford University Press,1999), 747-48.

Further reading[edit]