WEATHERING THE STORM: Women of the American Revolution by Elizabeth -- Ed. Evans

WEATHERING THE STORM: Women of the American Revolution

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A richly varied and handsomely annotated collection of excerpts from the diaries and journals of eleven women -- from Loyalist, Patriot and Quaker communities -- in the period of the American Revolution. In her introduction the author reviews legal, clerical and other restrictions placed upon the activities and aspirations of women of 18th century America, and quotes John Adams and even Thomas Jefferson as representatives of the temper of the times. Said Jefferson: ""The tender breasts of ladies were not formed for political convulsions."" The breast of Abigail Adams, however, who is quoted at length, convulsed with what would later be called feminist indignation: ""If particular. . .attention is not paid (to us) we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice. . . ."" Childbirth deaths were common; women nursed their babies as long as possible in the hope they would not again conceive; the household work load was severe; and there was always the specter of fatal illness and starvation. However, most of these diaries contain accounts of the hazards of war -- flights, oppression (the Quakers were common targets), a parade of soldiers at the doorstep, loss of property and exile. The personalities -- not always attractive -- are happily diversified, from an engaging flirt through capable and anxious housewives, to that Amazon of the Revolution, Deborah Gannett, who fought with the troops disguised as a man and after the war, recited an operatic version of her travail. The first-hand accounts of sieges, privations and deaths at home and in the field are invaluable, and among some of the accounts are bemused thoughts on woman's place. A fine, responsible and highly readable staple for the Bicentennial.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1975
Publisher: Scribners