Here at Caught In Dot, we discovered that the popular Dorchester tavern Lucy’s American Tavern was named in honor of famed suffragette Lucy Stone. Who was Lucy Stone, and what was her connection to Dorchester? Let’s find out together as Lucy Stone is the subject of this Caught in Dot: History Lesson!
Lucy Stone was born on a farm in rural West Brookfield, Massachusetts (it’s west of Worcester) in 1818. She was the 8th of 9 children! Lucy wanted an education, but her father did not support her ambitions. Lucy had to work for nine years to save up enough money to attend college.
Lucy went to Oberlin college in Ohio. Why Oberlin? Because Oberlin was the ONLY school in the US that accepted both men and women, white and black. Lucy was 25 when she started, and she worked throughout her four years at Oberlin to support herself. At graduation, Oberlin asked Lucy to write the commencement speech. Lucy refused because she would not have been allowed to read her own speech at graduation. A male professor would have read Lucy’s words because women were not allowed, even at Oberlin, to give a public address!
When Lucy graduated in 1847, she became the first Massachusetts woman to earn her bachelor’s degree. (Wow!) At her graduation ceremony, she met abolitionists William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass. She was hired in 1848 by the American Anti-Slavery Society to give speeches on abolition. Lucy was considered one of the first female “Soapbox Orators” in this country. She spoke all over about women’s rights and abolition. She was a fierce opponent of slavery and a fierce proponent of women’s rights.
In 1855 Lucy married Dr. Henry Blackwell, a man who also believed strongly in women’s rights and in the abolition of slavery. Lucy did not change her name after she got married. Occasionally when she would sign her name, she was forced to write Lucy Stone, wife of Henry Blackwell! Women who followed in Lucy’s footsteps, who didn’t change their names after marriage, were known as Lucy Stoners! In 1869 she moved her family to Dorchester and lived there until she died in 1893. The home of Lucy Stone and her husband, Henry Blackwell, and their daughter Alice Stone Blackwell was located on Boutwell Street on Pope’s Hill.
Image via National Women’s History.org