American histories of the Revolutionary War are full of the stories of what happened during the period of time the United States declared independence from the British - stories of the men. Very little is heard about the women who supported these men. Although women weren't allowed to vote (except in New Jersey), they had brains and opinions that rivaled the men of the time. Cokie Roberts decided to research these women and tell us their story.
I hadn't realized that one of the important article writers and opinion makers of the entry into the war was a woman - Mercy Otis Warren. Then there was Eliza Lucas Pinckney. She ran a South Carolina plantation for her father, added two more, was responsible for the family's wealth, ran her husband's business, and raised two sons who were key members in the Revolutionary story. While Benjamin Franklin spent those years in England and France his wife kept his home, business, and the post office going. She and their daughter also made soap they had to keep sending with him. Martha Washington spent a lot of time at the battlefields with her general husband. Abigail Adams' correspondence with John Adams reveals a lot about both of them.
Roberts and her team searched hard and found information that they didn't know existed. Yet there was so much more they wanted. For example, Martha Washington knowingly burned most of her correspondence.
Roberts divided the book into time periods, starting "Before 1775", showcasing women like Eliza Pinckney or Esther Burr, Aaron's wife. Founding Mothers goes through until the end of George Washington's presidency in 1796.
This book has two appeals - that of the women themselves. It also is another glimpse into a pivotal time in American history. It is readable and enjoyable. There are Founding Fathers who have gone down in my estimation because of the treatment of the women in their family. That doesn't make them any less heroes, just more human. These women come to life and let their opinions be known. Thanks, Cokie Roberts, for sharing them with us.
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