The founding fathers are my heroes and there is no denying the sacrifice they made to form our country. However, women who helped spark the Revolutionary War are often overlooked.  Here’s a round up of five women who did incredible things during the Revolutionary War that we owe it to ourselves to remember.

Abigail Adams

Abigail Adams was much more than the wife of John Adams and the mother of John Quincey Adams. She was one of John Adam’s closest advisors while he served in the First Continental Congress and as he eventually became Vice President and then President of the United States. Adams encouraged independence as well as women’s rights. She counseled her husband to “remember the ladies” during the Second Continental Congress.  While her husband was serving as a diplomat in Europe, it was Abigail who kept him apprised of what was happening in the country they helped create. She helped shape America with her thoughts on liberty and freedom for all.

Margaret Corbin

People typically think women during the Revolutionary War were secluded in their homes, away from the battlefield. Margaret Corbin defied this stereotype and is the first woman to receive a military pension. She followed her husband to war to cook, clean, and nurse soldiers. That all changed when she joined her husband at the Battle of Fort Washington in 1776. She was helping her husband load his canon and when he was killed, she took over firing the cannon. She sustained significant injuries during this battle.  Corbin was nicknamed “Captain Molly.” She went on to join the Invalid Regiment at West Point, where she is buried today. A plaque in Manhattan calls her “the first woman to take a soldier’s part in the War for Liberty”.

Lydia Darragh

Lydia Darragh was a prominent Quaker who lived in Philadelphia. Even though Quakers are typically pacifist, the Darragh family were supporters of American Independence. In 1777, British troops claimed Philadelphia and used Lydia Darragh’s home for meetings. This is just one reason why we have the Third Amendment. One night, her family was ordered to stay in their bedrooms. Lydia hid in a closet and heard the British plan an attack on Washington’s army. She used her position as a mother and a homemaker to obtain a permit so she could leave her house after curfew, sneak past the patrol, and deliver information concerning the attack to an American officer. Because of Lydia Darragh’s brave actions, Washington was able to prepare against the attack and retake Philadelphia.

Esther de Berdt Reed

Esther de Berdt Reed’s life could be the Revolutionary War version of Romeo and Juliet, with a better ending. Ester grew up in London and was well educated and privileged. She fell in love with Joseph Reed, a lawyer from Philadelphia, while he was in London. Unfortunately, her parents did not approve of their relationship. As tension between England and the colonies grew, Esther’s father’s business suffered. He eventually died and left his family in financial ruin. Joseph returned to London to help settle Mr. De Berdt’s financial affairs and he married Esther in the summer of 1770. The two moved back to Philadelphia where Esther wholeheartedly embraced the colonists’ cause. Her husband served as a member of the Continental Congress, an advisor to George Washington, and as the Governor of Pennsylvania. As his partner, Esther supported him and was involved in politics as much as she could be. She founded the Ladies Association of Philadelphia to raise money for the Continental Army. She encouraged women like Sarah Franklin Bache, Benjamin Franklin’s daughter, and other wives and daughters of influential men to be involved. In June of 1780, she published Sentiments of an American Woman as a call to arms to the women explaining that women were the equals to men in their love for liberty and justice for all. She gathered a team of 39 women to distribute the book and asked for donations from every household. This group of women ended up raising $300,000 continental dollars. Her campaign was wildly successful, so she wrote to George Washington himself to see how the money could best be used. He decided that the money should be used to make shirts for the soldiers in the Continental Army. Esther had each volunteer sew her name into the shirt she had made. She died before the shirts could be completed. The Ladies Association of Philadelphia was then led by Sarah Franklin Bache. Esther De Berdt Reed laid the foundation for women to be involved in political activity and her impact can be seen in our world today.

Mercy Otis

Born in Massachusetts, Mercy Otis was exposed to politics from a very young age. Although she was not formally educated, she pursued writing. Otis became a published poet, playwright, and satirist during the Revolutionary War. She was friends with leaders such as John and Abigail Adams and used her voice to speak up for the issues of the colonists. She started to write political plays that denounced the actions of the British government before the Declaration of Independence was written. Not only did she write satirical plays and poems based on current events, she wrote historical accounts of what happened. Her book, History of the Rise, Progress, and Termination of the American Revolution, was among the first nonfiction books published in America. She was the third women to publish a book of poems in the new republic. She was also an advocate for women’s education.

These are just some of the women who did remarkable things to aid the formation of our country, and there are many more women who built on their work. Although many women were shut out of political life, these women acted when opportunity presented itself and encouraged others to do the same. These women used their individual gifts to change the course of history and history will remember them for their sacrifice.

Hannah M
CONTRIBUTOR