Join us for our newest Daytime Discussion. Socialize and grab a cup of tea, coffee or hot cocoa before sitting down and discussing Cokie Roberts' "Founding Mothers".
While the "fathers" were off founding the country, what were the women doing? Running their husband’s businesses, raising their children plus providing political information and advice. At least that’s what Abigail Adams did for John, starting when he went off to the Continental Congress, which eventually declared the independence of the American colonies from the British. While the men were writing the rebellious words, the women were living the revolution, with the Redcoats on their doorsteps. John’s advice to Abigail as the soldiers approached Braintree: if necessary "fly to the woods with our children." That was it, she was on her own, as she was for most of the next ten years while Adams represented the newly independent nation abroad.
Abigail Adams is the best known of the women who influenced the founders, but there are many more, starting with Martha Washington, who once referred to herself as a “prisoner of state” for the constraints placed on her as the first First Lady. She was the one charged with balancing the demands of a Republic of the "common man" on the one hand, while insisting on some modicum of courtliness and protocol so that the former colonies would be taken seriously by Europe. She also took political heat in the press from the president’s political opponents when he was too popular to criticize.
And there are women like Esther Reed, married to the president of Pennsylvania, who, with Benjamin Franklin’s daughter Sarah Bache, organized a drive to raise money for Washington’s troops at Valley Forge. In 1780 the women raised more than three hundred thousand dollars. Reed wrote a famous patriotic broadside titled The Sentiments of an American Woman, calling on women to wear simpler clothing and hairstyles in order to save money to contribute to the cause. It worked! The women who ran the boarding houses of Philadelphia where the men stayed while writing the now sacred documents of America had their quite considerable say about the affairs of state as well.
This will be the story of some of those women, as learned through their seldom seen letters and diaries, and the letters from the men to them. It will be a story of the beginnings of the nation as viewed from the distaff side.
Pick up your copy at the Circulation Desk after November 25, 2019. Large print and audiobooks available.