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In this issue of Heroines we will again look at the American Revolution. This is one of my favorite time periods and I cannot long leave it alone, but must continually relive those glorious days when the United States gained her independence. There is an exciting line up for this edition; we will meet Lydia Darrah who saved Washington’s army and a little girl who gave her most precious possession for the cause. We will also take a look at the everyday women who helped win the war.
I hope you have a wonderful summer!
In Freedom’s Cause,
Heroines of the Past
P.O. Box 429
Wright, WY 82732
Daughters of Liberty
By Mara L. Pratt, 1889
People who write histories always tell how brave and bold and patriotic the men and boys are; but very seldom do they think it worthwhile to tell of the brave deeds of the women and girls. Now, I don’t think this is fair at all, do you girls? And you, little boys, if your sisters had done something just as brave as your brothers had done, wouldn’t you be very indignant if everybody should come to your house and praise your brothers, and cheer them, and all the time shouldn’t speak one word to your sisters?
I am sure you would; manly, brave hearted boys are always ready to stand up for their sisters, and are always very angry when someone hurts or neglects them in any way.
Now, of course the mothers and maidens couldn’t take guns and swords and go into battle as the men did, although they did even do that in some cases. But let us see what they did do. Somebody must stay at home and take care of the children, and the homes, and keep up the farms. So the brave women said to their husbands and sons, "You go into the battle-field, because you are stronger and larger and know about war; we will stay at home and keep the children cared for, that they may grow up strong to help you by and by. We will spin and weave day and night to keep you in yarn for stockings, and in cloth for clothes and blankets to keep you warm. We will plant, and harvest, and grind the corn, and do all your work on the farm that there may be food to send you, and food to keep you from starving when you all come home again."
What, think you, would the brave men in any war do if it were not for the brave women behind them at home to keep them from starving? Oh, it is a mean, cowardly man who would say that because the women didn’t go forth in battle array that they didn’t do their half in saving our country from the British soldiers!
Let us see who these "Daughters of Liberty," as they called themselves, were. As soon as the trouble between England and America broke out, the men formed themselves into societies, and had called themselves "Sons of Liberty." They pledged themselves to do everything in their power to drive back the English rule. The women, too, not wishing to appear to be one step behind their fathers, and husbands, and brothers, formed themselves into societies-"The Daughters of Liberty." They pledged themselves not to buy a dress, or a ribbon, or a glove, or any article whatever that came from England. They formed spinning societies to make their own yarn and linen, and they wove the cloth for their own dresses and for the clothes of their fathers and brothers, and husbands and sons. The women used to meet together to see who would spin the fastest. One afternoon a party of young girls met at the house of the minister for a spinning match. When they left, they presented the minister with thirty skeins of yarn, the fruit of their afternoon’s work.
The old women, some of whom were too old to do very much work, pledged themselves to give up their tea-drinking because the tea came to them from England, and because England had put a heavy tax on it. These dear old ladies, who loved their tea-drinking so much, bravely stood by their pledge. They drank catnip, and sage, and all sorts of herb teas, and pretended they liked it very much; but I suspect many an old lady went to bed tired and nervous, and arose in the morning with an aching head, all for the want of a good cup of tea.
At that time, there appeared in the newspapers many verses written by the English officers no doubt, often making fun of these brave women, old and young. Here is one of the verses:
"O Boston wives and maids, draw near and see,
Our delicate Souchong and Hyson tea;
Buy it, my charming girls, fair, black or brown,
If not, we’ll cut your throats and burn your town."
"Within eighteen months," wrote a gentleman at Newport, R. I., "four hundred and eighty-seven yards of cloth and thirty-six pairs of stockings have been spun and knit in the family of James Nixon of this town."
In Newport and Boston the ladies, at their tea-drinkings, used, instead of imported tea, the dried leaves of the raspberry. They called this substitute Hyperion. The class of 1770, at Cambridge, took their diplomas in homespun suits that they, too, might show their defiance of English taxation without representation.
By Edith Horton, 1914
Lydia Darrah, a Quakeress of Philadelphia, by her quick wit and courage saved General Washington’s army from capture at White Marsh after the defeat at Germantown.
During the winter of 1777 the British commander, General Howe, had his headquarters in Second Street. Directly opposite dwelt William and Lydia Darrah, strict Quakers whose religion debarred them from taking sides in the war. Because of this, perhaps, the British officers considered their home a safe place for private meetings; a large, rear room in the house being frequently used for conferences with the staff-officers.
One evening, the Adjutant General told Lydia that they would be there until late, but that he wished the family to retire early, adding that, when the conference was over he would call her to let them out and put out the lights. Lydia obeyed, but could not sleep. Her intuition told her that something of importance to Washington was being discussed. Try as she might to be neutral, as a Quaker should, her sympathies were with the great General. At last she slipped from her bed, crept to the door of the meeting-room, and listened at the keyhole. She heard an order read for all British troops to march out on the evening of December fourth to capture Washington’s army, which was then encamped at White Marsh. Frightened and excited, she returned to her room.
Not long after, the officer knocked at her door, but she pretended to be asleep and did not answer. As the knocking continued, she finally opened the door and sleepily returned the officer’s good night. Then she locked up the house and put out the lights, but spent the remainder of the night thinking over what she should do. Early next morning she told her husband that their flour was all gone and she would have to go to the mill at Franklin, five miles away, to get more.
She presented herself at the British headquarters bright and early, asking permission to pass through the lines on a domestic errand. Permission was granted, and she started for Franklin. She did not stop there, however, but leaving her bag to be filled, ready for her upon her return, she continued walking until she reached the American outposts. Asking that she might speak to an officer, she told what she had heard, begging that she might not be betrayed.
Then she hastened back to the mill, secured her bag of flour and returned home as if nothing had happened. And so it came about that, when the British reached White Marsh, they found the American Army, which they had planned to surprise, drawn up in line awaiting battle. No battle took place; but the British returned to Philadelphia, and there tried to find out who had betrayed their plans. Lydia Darrah was called up and questioned. She said that the members of her family were all in bed at eight o’clock on the night of the conference. "It is strange," said the officer; "I know that you were sound asleep, for I had to knock several times to awaken you." So the matter was dropped, and nobody knows to this day whether the British ever learned the truth or not.
A Brave Little Girl
By Mara L. Pratt, 1889
While General Gage held the town of Boston, our people were nearly starved, because of the number of British soldiers that must be fed. Accordingly, men were sent into the surrounding villages to obtain help.
Parson White, of the little town of Windham, urged his people to give all they could; and his little daughter, catching the spirit of loyalty, wondered how she could help the suffering Bostonians.
Soon after, the villagers prepared to send Frederic Manning to the town with sheep and cattle and a load of wheat. The little girl thought of her pet lamb. Could she, ought she, to part with it? Running to her fathers, she eagerly asked his advice. But the parson smiling kindly, said, "No, dear, it is not necessary that your little heart be tried by this bitter strife," and bade her run away and be happy. But the thought would not leave her. There in Boston were little girls, no older than herself, crying for food and clothing; she must give all she could to help them.
At last the day came on which the cattle and supplies of help were to be driven to town. Choking down her sobs, the little martyr untied her pet from the old apple tree, and crossing the fields, waited for Manning, the driver, at the crossroads.
"Please, sir," said she, her lip quivering, and the tears rolling down her cheeks, "I want to do something for the poor starving people in Boston - I want to do my part, but I have nothing but his one little lamb. Please, sir, take it to Boston with you, but, couldn’t you carry it in your arms part of the way - ’cause it - it - it is so little, sir?" Then bursting into tears and throwing her apron over her eyes as if to shut out the sight of her dear little pet, she ran away towards her home. Poor, brave little girl! I hope when she told her mama and papa what she had done that they took their little girl up in their arms and kissed her many, many times, and told her what a dear, brave little girl she had been. I suspect the tears were in their eyes, too, when she told them; and I have always wished the good parson had sent a messenger to overtake the driver and bring back the little lamb to its loving owner.
Patriots in Petticoats: Heroines of the American Revolution
By Shirley Raye Redmond
Meet the amazing women of the American Revolution. From Nancy Morgan Hart, who captured enemy soldiers, to 15-year-old Betty Zane, who dodged bullets while running for gunpowder to save patriot lives, this book celebrates 24 of America’s most daring and overlooked patriots! Written with a compelling, light touch and packed with photographs, periods art, maps, and timelines, this book is young nonfiction at its best--entertaining, engaging, and empowering! For ages 7 and up.
If You Lived at the Time of American Revolution
New and updated, but still the same "If you lived at the Time of..."series you loved, this book answers all your questions about life at various points in history. From food and clothes, to how your life would have changed after the Declaration of Independence, this book is filled with facts and interesting notes about life in the past. Cheery illustrations also help to visualize life during the American Revolution. 76 pages, softcover.
Wives of The Signers
By David Barton
History has been all too glad to acknowledge the courage and bravery of the men who put their lives on the line when they signed the Declaration of Independence. Yet, it is often forgotten that those very same men had wives and families. Brief, due to lack of historical data, but poignant, especially when we have snippets of their letters and diaries, these accounts of the brave founding women of America are filled with a brand of courage all their own. Even among those who died due to exposure, being turned out of their homes, or even in jail for supporting the Revolution, one doesn’t find a single word of complaint, but rather an unswerving devotion to their husbands, and their husbands’ causes. This unique book pays homage to the women of the Revolution, allowing readers a glimpse into their lives that have for so long been neglected. 283 pages, softcover.
Lives of The Signers
By B.J. Lossing
Most people know more about the Declaration of Independence than they do about the 56 Americans who endorsed it. Originally published in 1848, this collection of biographies will teach students about those courageous individuals-from John Admas to George Wythe. Includes engraved line drawing portraits. This edition keeps the old-fashioned font from the 1848 edition, imparting a vintage flair to the text. 384 pages, softcover.
The Christian History of the American Revolution: Consider and Ponder
This volume asks Americans to think upon the relationship between the liberty of the Gospel and American political liberty. From 1765-1775 the Colonists engaged in a Constitutional Debate to determine their Biblical basis for the American Revolution. The "Introduction" includes some of Vern Hall’s finest writing on American Christianity. 736 pages, gold-stamped blue vellum. Embossed Paul revere eagle. Illustrated. Biographies. Scriptural references. Index of Leading Ideas, by Rosalie J. Slater.