The Women of the American Revolution

The years of the American Revolution were times of changing loyalties, fierce battles and internecine rivalries, and the women’s perspective provided a fresh view for interpretation of the times. In her 1849 volume The Women of the American Revolution, Elizabeth F. Ellet took this task to heart as she recounted in detail the stories of over 120 women who assisted in the fight for freedom.

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Drawing from a wealth of material – personal interviews, diaries, biographies, and manuscript letters – she probed the details of their personal triumphs and tragedies, and presented them in a popular style easily appreciated by contemporary readers. With her unique documentation, much of which is now lost to present historians, she was able to set intimate scenes for the period and breathe life into her characterizations. She presented women at the hearth and on the battlefield in the same factual yet entertaining manner. While the author recounted the lives of many of the more popular participants – Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, Jane McCrea, and Mercy Warren – she included many lesser-known individuals, as well as women of several nationalities, lending a more balanced and credible view to the course of the narrative. Anecdotes of personal bravery, clever escapes, and valiant stands mark the pages of The Women of the American Revolution, and even a brief review will entice any reader. These stories were not dry historical accounts; they were meant to be read as incidents in the lives of real Americans during trying times. More than a few of the participants were contemporary with the author and this reveals itself in the personal style of her writing.