FOUNDING MOTHERS: Women of America in the Revolutionary Era by Linda Grant DePauw
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FOUNDING MOTHERS: Women of America in the Revolutionary Era

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Instead of padding out the stories of those few revolutionary era women who managed to make the history books, this surveys the contributions of the sex as a whole. The surprising conclusion is that in some ways colonial women may have played a more active role than their 19th century sisters. Though they had few rights under law (even before the regressive influence of Blackstone became pervasive) the rigors of the times often forced women into positions of responsibility--advertisements and documents give evidence of many self-employed businesswomen (frequently widows); ""camp followers"" (usually soldiers' wives and not prostitutes) did much of the work of the army and often (like the famous Mollys, Pitcher and Corbin) went right onto the battlefield; reaction against European notions of ladylike luxury gave American women somewhat more latitude in education and manners. DePauw also looks at housework--needlework and clothmaking were highly skilled; cooking catch-as-catch-can and usually awful. And she devotes separate chapters to the status of loyalists, indentured servants, native Americans and slaves (black women were on the bottom social rung, but perhaps better off than their 19th century counterparts), as well as to the organized activities of the Daughters of Liberty and the Association, who boycotted tea, raised large funds to clothe Washington's troops and published broadsides in favor of the Patriot cause. DePauw tries neither to shock us with horrible examples of woman's lot nor to idealize a time that was hard and riddled with social injustice. Brisk, energetic, cohesive. . . one of the bicentennial-inspired juveniles that substantially enlarges our view of the world of '76.

Pub Date: Oct. 22nd, 1975
ISBN: 0395701090
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin