Saturday, July 4, 2015

Women in the War for American Independence

We remember America's independence from Briton on July 4th because that was the day the Declaration of Independence was signed. The British king, King George III, wasn't about to take orders from our founding fathers however and certainly was not enthused about letting America, a land hugely abundant in resources loose from his grasp. But in the Revolutionary War to follow, the men weren't the only ones fighting it out.

This Fourth of July, don't forget some of the women who played strategic roles in the fight for American independence.

Mary Ball Washington
Mary Ball Washington is forgotten mother of the infamous first American president, George Washington. Though history tells us that Mrs. Washington and her great son were often at odds with one another, it was her strong-will, sternness and common sense that taught her son to be a man of great character. We should remember that back then the mothers were primarily responsible for raising their children, unlike the parenting dynamic that is common today. Because of this, we owe Mary Ball Washington and the women who raised history's other great men with the equal credit of winning the war and shaping America's history.

Martha Curtis Washington
Martha Curtis Washington was, of course, the wife of President George Washington and again, unfortunately, most remember her solely as his wife. But she was a very compassionate woman with a fierce hart, and it is said that during the war as she arrived at Valley Forge to help support her husband, she came upon a scene where men were chanting, “No bread, no soldier”. Martha Washington came prepared with supplies and set up a sewing club of other officers’ wives to help mend the soldier's clothes. She was also irreplaceable as a nurse, saving many soldier's lives. One soldier wrote: “I never in my life knew a woman so busy from early morning until late at night as was Lady Washington, providing comforts for the sick soldiers.”

Catherine Barry
Catherine Barry is known as the “Heroine of the Battle of Cowpens”. During the war she volunteered as a scout and was an indispensable resource because she knew every trail and shortcut around her plantation in South Carolina. Catherine was crucial in warning the militia of the approaching British before The Battle of Cowpens which took place on January 17, 1781. Catherine helped round up the militia to support General Daniel Morgan and his troops. She was undoubtedly responsible for the decided victory that day.

Mercy Otis Warren
Mercy Otis Warren, or otherwise knows as the "Conscience of the American Revolution,” accomplished feats only men were allowed to do at the time. She spoke her mind, was an excellent writer and one of the first women playwrights. She spoke from the heart, and most of the time that meant she gave her opinions on war on had uncomfortable political conversations. But she didn't care because she believed what she thought was right and became a very well known revolution sympathizer. Despite not having the same rights as men, Mercy didn't let that stop her and recognized that even though there were many things she wasn't allowed to do, one thing she could do was share her mind.

Esther de Berdt Reed
Esther Reed adopted America as her home and pledged her support to the revolution as the war raged on. To show prove her loyalty to the America's independence, she established “The Ladies of Philadelphia”, a woman's group that would help raise the huge fortune of $300,000 for troops by going door to door seeking donations. The organization raised an enormous sum of $300,000 dollars for the troops by going door to door asking for donations. With the money they raised Esther Reed and her group of women worked closely with then General George Washington to buy and sew new uniforms for the army. 

Girl Scout founder Juliette Gordon Low surely would have admired these women for their confidence, courage and character while helping America find its footing as a country.

Today we celebrate these women, and every American, in honor of the Fourth of July.