Showing posts with label Women in the American Revolution. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Women in the American Revolution. Show all posts


Women's Rights After the American Revolution

drawing of the many jobs women performed at home

Status of Women in the New United States

In the American colonies it was not uncommon for women to pursue various occupations, such as printers, innkeepers, merchants and teachers. Women were excluded from political activities, but a few women, like Mercy Otis Warren and Abigail Adams, entered the political arena as public figures. Were women always treated fairly?

Remember the Ladies
On March 31, 1776 Abigail Adams wrote a celebrated letter to husband John, who was in Philadelphia serving in the Continental Congress, which would produce the Declaration of Independence three months later. In an age when women were seen as strictly domestic beings, the letter shows Abigail's boldness and insight as she urged her husband Remember the Ladies, to grant women more rights, as he helped shape the new national government.


Sarah Wentworth Morton

Massachusett poet who was the first to use Native Americans and African slaves as subject matter in her poetry

18th Century Poet and Writer

Sarah Wentworth Morton, poet of the American Revolution, is remembered for the long, sentimental, narrative poems in which she considers the make-up of the new nation, inter-racial relationships and heroism, both male and female. In her own time she was renowned for her poetry about the virtues of freedom. Though too invested in the idea of submission to be a feminist, she had the status and role of women very much at heart.

Sarah Apthorp was born in Boston, Massachusetts to the wealthy Boston merchant, James Apthorp and Sarah Wentworth Apthorp. She was baptized at King's Chapel on August 29, 1759 (the exact date of her birth is unknown). Her family eventually numbered eleven children.


Rebecca Young

Maker of the First United States Flag

Grand Union Flag stitched by Rebecca Young
Image: Grand Union Flag
Stitched by Rebecca Young

Rebecca Flower Young was a Philadelphia flag maker during the American Revolution. She has been credited with making a flag that became known as the Grand Union Flag, which is considered our first national flag. The flag she sewed had thirteen red and white stripes to symbolize the unity of the American colonies and the British Union Jack in the upper left hand corner. This flag was in use from late 1775 until mid 1777, making Young one of the earliest verified makers of the Flag of the United States.


Agent 355

artist's drawing of Agent 355 of the Culper Spy Ring in Revolutionary War New York City

Female Spy in the American Revolution

A group of spies known as the Culper Spy Ring operated from 1778 to 1780 in an intricate network from British-occupied New York City to Setauket, Long Island, north to Connecticut, and then west to George Washington's headquarters at Newburgh, New York. Agent 355 was the code name of a female spy in the Culper Ring. Her real identity is unknown. The spy network was particularly effective in gathering valuable information from careless conversations between the British and their sympathizers.

In 1778, Benjamin Tallmadge, a young American officer who was General George Washington's new intelligence chief, organized an ingenious top-secret network of spies. Washington ordered that not even he himself should know who they were. For recruits, Tallmadge turned to old friends and acquaintances in his hometown of Setauket, Long Island.


Anna Smith Strong

Member of the Culper Spy Ring

map showing the routes taken by the Culper Spy Ring to forward information to General George Washington
Image: Map Showing the Routes Taken by the Culper Spy Ring - Long Island, New York

The British occupied New York City in August 1776, and the city would remain a British stronghold for the duration of the Revolutionary War. The Culper Ring, also known as the Setauket Spy Ring, was a group of operatives whose purpose was General George Washington aware of the movements of the British in New York City and Long Island.

Some credit Nathan Hale's capture and execution with having launched the Culper Spy Ring. Nathan Hale, a young Patriot, volunteered for an intelligence-gathering mission to the city, but the British captured Hale carrying drawings of their fortifications in his shoe and hanged him on September 22, 1776. He is best remembered for his last words: "I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country." Hale's death illustrated the grave dangers inherent in spying for the Patriots.


Martha Jefferson Randolph

portrait of the daughter of Thomas Jefferson and wife of the Governor of Virginia

Daughter of U.S. President Thomas Jefferson

Image: Martha Jefferson Randolph
Thomas Sully, Artist
Date unknown

Martha Washington Jefferson was born on September 27, 1772, the daughter of Thomas Jefferson, third President of the United States, and Martha Wayles Jefferson. She was born at Monticello, near Charlottesville, Virginia, and was named in honor of her mother and of Martha Washington, wife of George Washington. Her nickname was Patsy.

When Patsy was ten years old her mother died, and over the following years she became increasingly close to her father. From age 12 to 17, Patsy and her younger sister Polly lived in Paris with her father while he served as U.S. Minister to France. Jefferson enrolled the girls at Abbaye Royale de Panthemont convent school, after receiving assurances that Protestant students were exempt from religious instruction. After Patsy expressed a desire to convert to Catholicism, Jefferson quickly withdrew them from the school.


Theodosia Burr

The Hermitage, New Jersey home of Theodosia Prevost, where she married Aaron Burr
Theodosia Burr's Home, the Hermitage

Wife of Vice President Aaron Burr

In 1763 Theodosia Bartow married James Marcus Prevost, a British Army officer with whom she had five children. They lived in Bergen County, New Jersey, in a home they named the Hermitage. In 1776 James Marcus was called back to active duty in the Revolutionary War, while Theodosia tried to keep their home from being confiscated by the American government. Meanwhile she began a relationship with a young American officer named Aaron Burr. After her husband's death in 1781, 35-year-old Theodosia Prevost, with five children, married 25-year-old Aaron Burr.

Childhood and Early Years
Theodosious Bartow died in a carriage accident in Shrewsbury, New Jersey, in 1746 at age 34, while his wife Ann was pregnant with their only child, Theodosia Bartow. For five years Ann raised Theodosia as a single parent, apparently partially in Shrewsbury and partially in New York City where several of her sisters and brothers were living.


Lydia Darragh

Revolution War spy for the Continental Army

Heroine of the Battle of Whitemarsh

Lydia Darragh was a Quaker woman who crossed enemy lines during the British occupation of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her mission was to pass information to General George Washington and the Continental Army, warning them of an impending British attack.

Lydia Barrington was born in 1729 in Dublin, Ireland. On November 2, 1753, she married the family tutor, William Darragh, the son of a clergyman. After a few years of marriage, they immigrated to the American colonies. Members of the Quaker faith, the couple settled in Philadelphia where there was a large Quaker community. William worked as a tutor, and Lydia was a midwife. She gave birth to and raised five children: Charles, Ann, John, William, and Susannah; four others died in infancy.

Although Quakers are pacifists and against war and most were neutral during the Revolutionary War, the Darraghs were secretly in favor of the colonists' cause, and their eldest son Charles was serving in the 2nd Pennsylvania Regiment of the Continental Army.


Mary Byrd

Loyalist Woman of Westover Plantation in Virginia

Image: Mary Willing Byrd Portrait
Painted by John Wollaston in 1758
This portrait was painted in Philadelphia three years before she met and married the older William Byrd III.

Mary Willing was born on September 10, 1740, the daughter of Charles and Anne (Shippen) Willing. Her father was the mayor of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from 1748 to 1754, and her great-grandfather, Edward Shippen, was the second mayor of Philadelphia from 1701 to 1703. Benjamin Franklin was one of Mary's godfathers, and when she was a child, he sent her books from Europe.


Sybil Ludington

New York Heroine of the Revolutionary War

statue of American Revolution heroine and her horse Star
Image: Sybil Ludington Equestrian Statue
Anna Hyatt Huntington sculpted this bronze statue of Sibyl on her horse Star; it was dedicated in 1961 on the shore of Lake Gleneida in Carmel, New York with smaller replicas in Danbury and at the Washington, DC headquarters of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Sybil Ludington was the daughter of Abigail and Henry Ludington, born April 5, 1761, in what was then known as Fredericksburg, and is now known as the Ludingtonville section of the town of Kent, New York. Sybil's parents met when he was on his way to Quebec with Connecticut troops during the French and Indian War. On May 1, 1760, Henry and Abigail were married.


Mary Lindley Murray

Heroine of the Revolutionary War

medallion honoring the heroine of Kip's Bay
Mary Lindley, born in 1726, was the daughter of Thomas Lindley, a Quaker and blacksmith who had arrived in Philadelphia from Ireland in 1719. In 1727, with a group of other Quakers, including some of the most prominent merchants of the colony, Thomas Lindley became a founding owner of the Durham Furnace on the Delaware River in Bucks County, a 6000-acre iron ore site and one of the leading forges in the colonies.

Mary Lindley Murray Pewter Medallion (above)
The reverse has this inscription:
After the British had captured Manhattan Island, she delayed the enemy officers at her home. Her clever diversion permitted American troops to escape.
Robert Murray (1721-1786) was born to a Presbyterian family in County Armagh, Ireland, and his family emigrated to America in 1732. While still in his teens, Robert became the operator of a mill in Swatara, Pennsylvania.


Lydia Mulliken

Sweetheart of Midnight Rider Dr. Samuel Prescott

painting of a midnight rider on the eve of the Revolutionary War
Lydia Mulliken was born sometime in 1753. Samuel Prescott was born in Concord, Massachusetts, on August 19, 1751. He had an older brother, Abel, Jr., and a sister, Lucy. In those days, there was no medical school, so young Samuel apprenticed with his father, Dr. Abel Prescott, for seven years. He opened his medical practice in Concord shortly before the Revolution.

Sometime during his apprenticeship, Prescott became an active member in the patriot movement and joined the Sons of Liberty. As a physician, he was exempt from serving in the militia, but he volunteered as a courier and delivered messages for the Committee of Correspondence.

On April 18, 1775, British General Thomas Gage sent 700 British soldiers to seize colonial arms stored at the town of Concord, some twenty miles outside Boston. On the way they would march through Lexington. The Patriot spies soon got the word out.


Margaret Corbin

Revolutionary War heroine

Heroine of the Battle of Fort Washington

Image: Margaret Corbin
In a sketch by Herbert Knotel
West Point Museum Art Collection
United States Military Academy
West Point, New York

Margaret Cochran was born on November 12, 1751, near Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. In 1756, five year old Margaret and her older brother were visiting their uncle when an Indian raiding party attacked her parent's homestead, killing their father and capturing their mother. The children were then raised by their uncle.

In 1772, Margaret Cochran married John Corbin, a Virginia farmer.


Mary McCauley

American Revolution battle

Heroine of the American Revolution

Image: Battle of Monmouth 1778
Don Troiani, Artist
On a blistering hot day during the Battle of Monmouth, New Jersey, young Mary Hays McCauley became Molly Pitcher in American Legend.

Molly Pitcher was a nickname given to a woman said to have fought in the Revolutionary War. The story of Mary Ludwig Hays McCauley is considered folklore by historians, or they suggest that Molly Pitcher is probably a composite of a number of real women. The name itself may have originated as a nickname for women who carried water to men on the battlefield. It has also been suggested that the story of the cannon also applies to another brave woman named Margaret Corbin, but both accounts could be true.

Mary Ludwig was born on October 13, 1744, on a small farm near Trenton, New Jersey, to a German family. She grew up there and helped her father, who was a dairy farmer. She was raised to be a hard worker, and as typical hardworking farm girl—heavy-set, strong, and sturdy—she could do all the chores and tasks that a small farm requires.


Elizabeth Zane

Statue of the heroine of Fort Henry

Heroine of Fort Henry

Image: Betty Zane Monument
Walnut Grove Cemetery
Martins Ferry, Ohio
Local school children collected money to have this statue of Elizabeth Zane placed at the entrance to the cemetery.

Elizabeth Zane, better known as Betty, was born on July 19, 1759, in Moorefield, Virginia. She was the daughter of William and Nancy Nolan Zane. Betty moved with her family at an early age to the area that now is Wheeling, West Virginia. Betty's older brother, Ebenezer Zane, pioneered this area in the turbulent Ohio Valley, which was the home of Native Americans who became increasingly hostile because of encroachment on their lands.

These colonists were defying a royal order that reserved land west of the Appalachian Mountains for Native Americans. The threat of attack increased as the American Revolution began back East: the tribes who lived beyond the Appalachians understandably wanted the British to put down the rebellion, and almost all of them allied themselves with the British.

The Zane family and a few others established Fort Henry, named for Patriot Patrick Henry, in 1774. Fort Henry was a parallelogram, 356 feet long and 150 feet wide, on a hillside overlooking the Ohio River, standing at what is now Tenth and Main streets in downtown Wheeling, West Virginia. The fort was surrounded by a stockade fence twelve feet high, and had a three-foot walkway running around the inside. It was practically impregnable as long as supplies lasted.

The fort covered about three quarters of an acre of ground, and had a block house at each corner, with lines of stout pickets about eight feet high, extending from one to the other. Within the enclosure were a number of cabins for the use of families, and the principal entrance was through a gateway on the side next to the straggling village.

While living with the daily reality of a terrifying attack, the women of Wheeling also were busy with cooking, washing, sewing, weaving, and other household tasks without the supplies that most housewives could take for granted. While men hunted and fished for food, frontier women grew vegetables, tended to livestock and poultry, and often did other farm work.

Betty's family sent her to school in Philadelphia, but she returned to Wheeling in 1781, the year that Americans won the important Battle of Yorktown. The war was not yet formally over though, and especially on the frontier, an alliance of British Canadians and Native Americans would continue to fight settlers until after the War of 1812.


Deborah Sampson

Deborah Sampson: Female Soldier in the Revolutionary War

woman soldier in the Revolutionary War
Deborah Sampson in Uniform
Deborah Sampson was born in Plympton, Massachusetts, on December 17, 1760. Although her family name was originally spelled without the p, it is under this spelling that she is most commonly remembered. She was the oldest of seven children of Jonathan and Deborah Bradford Sampson, both of old Colonial stock. Mrs. Sampson was a descendant of William Bradford, once Governor of Plymouth Colony.

Jonathan Sampson abandoned his family and moved to Maine, where he continued to live in poverty. Her mother was of poor health and could not support the children, so she sent them off to live with various friends and relatives. Deborah, aged five, was taken by a spinster, and she was then sent to work in the home of the elderly widow of the Reverend Peter Thatcher.


Betsy Ross

Betsy Ross sewed the Star-Spangled Banner

Maker of the First American Flag

Image: Birth of Our Nation's Flag
Charles Weisgerber, Artist
9' x 12' painting depicts Betsy Ross presenting the first American Flag to George Washington, Robert Morris and George Ross

Betsy Ross was born Elizabeth Griscom to parents Samuel Griscom and Rebecca James in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on January 1, 1752, the eighth of 17 children. She grew up in a household where the plain dress and strict discipline of the Society of Friends (Quakers) dominated her life.

One year before William Penn founded Philadelphia in 1681, Betsy Ross's great-grandfather, Andrew Griscom, a Quaker carpenter, had already emigrated from England to New Jersey. Andrew was of firm Quaker belief, and he was inspired to move to Philadelphia to become an early participant in William Penn's holy experiment. He purchased 495 acres of land in the Spring Garden section north of the city of Philadelphia, and received a plot of land within the city limits.


Priscilla Scollay Melville

Wife of Boston Tea Party Participant Thomas Melville

Revolutionary War officer
Image: Thomas Melville

Priscilla Scollay was born on August 15, 1755, in Boston, Massachusetts, daughter of John and Mercy Greenleaf Scollay. In 1761, along with about fifty other men, John Scollay signed a petition which was sent to King George III protesting the illegal actions of the British revenue officers. A strong supporter of colonial claims against the empire, John Scolly was chosen to Boston's Board of Selectmen in 1764. The honor was repeated in 1773, and the following year he was made chairman, a title he held until 1790. Scollay Square in Boston is named for her family.

Thomas Melville was born in Boston, Massachusetts, January 27, 1752, the only son of Allan and Jean (Cargill) Melville. Losing his mother at the early age of eight, Thomas was raised and educated by his maternal grandmother, Mary (Abernethy) Cargill. At the age of fifteen, he entered the College of new Jersey (later Princeton University), where graduated in 1769 with a degree in theology.


Mehitable May Dawes

Wife of the Other Midnight Rider William Dawes, Jr.

American Patriot
Mehitable May was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on August 6, 1751, to the well-respected family of Samuel and Catherine May. William Dawes, Jr. was born in Boston on April 5, 1745, to William and Lydia Dawes in Boston, Massachusetts. He was a fourth generation descendant of the first Dawes in America, who came to Boston in 1635. William Jr. became a leather tanner and tradesman, and was active in Boston's militia.

Image: William Dawes, Jr.

On May 3, 1768, Dawes married Mehitable May, who was seventeen. They would have six children together. At the time of their wedding, there was a boycott on British goods to pressure Parliament into repealing the Townshend Acts. Because of the boycott, The Boston Gazette reported that everything Dawes wore that day was made in North America.


Grace Growden Galloway

home Grace Galloway inherited from her father, but married women at that time were not allowed to own property, so ownership went to her husband

Loyalist in the American Revolution

Image: Growden Mansion
Bensalem, Pennsylvania
Joseph Growden built this home which was later expanded upon by his son Lawrence, Grace Growden Galloway's father. Grace later inherited this home, but since married women at that time were not allowed to own property, her husband Joseph Galloway automatically became the owner.

One of the most interesting diaries written during the American Revolution was written by Grace Growden Galloway, while the world as she had known it was completely destroyed. Her family history was typical of colonial American families. Her grandfather settled in Pennsylvania and accumulated a large amount of property. His second son Lawrence sought his fortune as a merchant in England, where he got married. Lawrence's second child, Grace, was born in England in 1727.