Did our post on “Women Heroes of the American Revolution” being added to our online store pique your interest in how ladies assisted the men during the Revolutionary War? If so, here is another excellent book: “The Women of the American Revolution” written by Elizabeth F. Ellet. Less than 100 years after the war ended, Ellet was the first writer to record the lives and deeds of women who contributed to the Revolutionary War.
Around 1846, Ellet began a major project in historical writing: to profile the life stories of women who sacrificed for, and were committed to, the American Revolution. She did this by searching out unpublished letters and diaries, and by interviewing descendants of Revolutionary era and frontier women, becoming the first historian of the Revolution to carry out such an effort. She noted the “abundance of materials for the [masculine] history of action” and attempted to add balance by telling the feminine side, referring to the founding “mothers” as giving “nurture in the domestic sanctuary of that love of civil liberty which afterwards kindled into a flame and shed light on the world”.
She found so much information about female patriots that the first edition of The Women of the American Revolution (1848) had to be published in two volumes. These volumes were well received, and a third volume of additional material was published in 1850. Later historians consider these volumes to represent her most important work. Ellet also authored Domestic History of the American Revolution summarizing the same material in narrative form and also published in 1850.
Ellet told the stories of women from every colony and from all ranks of society, with the exception of African Americans, whose role she chose to ignore. Some of the women she wrote about, such as Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, Mercy Otis Warren and Ann Eliza Bleecker, among others, were famous in their own right. She also wrote of the women who were more obscure but equally valuable: the wives of heroes who, in the face of British encroachment, bravely raised children and defended their homes. She wrote, “It is almost impossible now to appreciate the vast influence of woman’s patriotism upon the destinies of the infant republic.”