Today in History
What Would The World Be Without Women?
the first article in this series follow this link What
Would The World Be Without Women? Installment I. For
the previous article in this series follow this link What
Would The World Be Without Women? Installment II.
As we end the series about the women who lived during the period of the Revolutionary War we are rewarded with a letter by a lady of Philadelphia, which notifies us of the character and insight women of those days had concerning the very things which you and I are now learning in regard to civil government.1
"I will tell you what I have done.
My only brother I have sent to the camp with my prayers and blessings.
I hope he will not disgrace me; I am confident he will behave with honor, and emulate the great examples he has before him;... Tea I have not drunk since last Christmas, nor bought a new cap or gown since your defeat at Lexington; and what I never did before, have learned to knit,... I know this that as free I can die but once; but as a slave I shall not be worthy of life.
I have the pleasure to assure you that these are the sentiments of all my sister Americans.
They have sacrificed (much). If these are the sentiments of females, what must glow in the breasts of our husbands, brothers, and sons!
They are as with one heart determined to die or be free. It is not a quibble in politics, a science which few understand, that we are contending for; it is this plain truth, which the most ignorant peasant knows, and is clear to the weakest capacity-that no man has a right to take their money without their consent.
You say you are no politician. Oh, sir, it requires no Machiavellian head to discover this tyranny and oppression.
We shall be unworthy of the blessings of Heaven if we ever submit to (slavery).... Heaven seems to smile on us; for in the memory of man, never were known such quantities of flax, and sheep without number.
We are making powder fast, and do not want for ammunition."2
"From all portions of the country thus rose the expression of woman's ardent zeal.
Under accumulated evils the manly spirit that alone could secure success, might have sunk but for the firmness and intrepidity of the weaker sex.
It supplied every persuasion that could animate to perseverance, and secure fidelity."
During this period in our history we found the women enduring soul-wrenching difficulties but they were met with, as Governor Bradford would have said, "with answerable courages" as well as wisdom.
This brings us to a very influential woman, Mercy Warren of Plymouth, Massachusetts.
It has been said of her that she was " perhaps the most remarkable woman who lived at the Revolutionary period."
Her "higher" as well as her primary education was, like that of most of the colonists, self-education.
You will see why she was so highly respected from the short biography that follows.
Her love of reading was early manifested; and such was her economy of time, that, never neglecting her domestic cares or the duties of hospitality, she found leisure not only to improve her mind by careful study, but for various works of female ingenuity.
The Rev. Jonathan Russell supplied her with books and counsel. She read Raleigh's History of the World and was thereby attracted to history.
Her brother James, who was himself an excellent scholar, became her adviser and companion in literary pursuits.
She became the wife of James Warren, a merchant of Plymouth, Massachusetts.
In him she found a partner of congenial mind. Her care for her family did not impair her love of literature and her poetical productions were enjoyed by all.
It is not strange then, that, with this kind of background, the active and powerful intellect of Mrs. Warren should become engaged with interest in political affairs.
These were now assuming an aspect that engrossed universal attention.
Decision and action were called for on the part of those inclined to one or the other side of independence.
Her rich correspondence included letters, besides those from members of her own family, from Samuel and John Adams, Jefferson, Dickinson, Gerry, Knox and others.
These men asked her opinion in political matters, and acknowledged the excellence of her judgment. ...Colonial difficulties, and the signs of the times, formed subjects of communication continually between Mrs. Warren and her female friend as well. In a letter to a friend Mrs. Warren wrote in 1775 we read:
"The late convulsions are only the natural struggles which ensue when the genius of liberty arises to assert her rights in opposition to the ghost of tyranny.
I doubt not this fell form will ere long be driven from our land; then may the western skies behold virtue (which is generally the attendant of freedom) seated on a throne of peace, where may she ever preside over the rising Commonwealth of America."3
The influence commanded by her talents was enhanced by her virtues, and by the deep religious feeling which governed her throughout life.4)
I would have liked to have included President John Adamsí wife, mother of President John Quincy Adams, in this series but have run out of room.
Again I urge you to purchase the book from which these came that you may read the full account by Miss Hall.
It is worth a fortune. My reason for bringing you these stories is that you may discover the lovely character and accomplishments of the women of the Revolutionary War period.
I trust they have given you many moments of pleasure.
1. As in previous installments these are excerpted from the "Christian History of the American Revolution" or "Consider & Ponder" or "C&P," pp. 74-77.
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2. The letter above was "found among some papers belonging to a lady of Philadelphia, addressed to a British officer in Boston, written before the Declaration of Independence," "C&P" p.74b.
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3. "C&P" p. 77a.
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4. "C&P" p. 77b.
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