Sacrifices of Wives of the Declaration Signers

Here are some inspiring stories1 of women in American history. We hope they are an encouragement!

Mary Morris (wife of Robert Morris2) fled her home with her four young children (the oldest being only 7) as the British approached Philadelphia. Getting to safety, she wrote to her husband recounting her flight: “I long to give you an account of the many difficulties and uneasiness we have experienced in this journey. Indeed my spirits were very unable to the task after that greatest conflict, flying from home.”3

Gertrude Read (wife of Declaration signer George Read4) and her four young children suffered hardships as they were frequently left alone under continual threat5 as the British marched through and occupied parts of the state. Despite the long separations from her husband and the many times she had to move her family to safety, a biographer of George Read notes, “she never was dejected…she animated his fortitude by her firmness.”6

As the British made their way to Princeton in the early years of the war, Annis Stockton7 (wife of Declaration signer Richard Stockton), personally secured numerous state papers to keep them safe from the British. When Richard heard8 of the British approach, he quickly acted to get his family (including six children) to safety. He, himself, was arrested the very evening his family got to safety and remained in horrible prison conditions until Congress was able to arrange better accommodations. He never fully recovered and died in 1781.

Mary Bartlett (wife of Declaration signer Josiah Bartlett) also faced many hardships. In 1774, arsonists9 (assumed to be Loyalists opposed to Josiah’s support of the Americans) burned down the Bartlett’s home. Mary did not despair but simply moved her 12 children to the family’s farm. A biographer noted that she managed the farm herself and “in all her letters to her husband and her children, there is not one word of regret at his course or pity for herself, left alone to bear the double duties incumbent upon her.”10


Endnotes

1 “Women Heroes,” WallBuilders.
2 John Sanderson, Biography of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence (Philadelphia: R. W. Pomeroy, 1824), V:189-375.
3 Henry Clinton Greene & Mary Wolcott Greene, The Pioneer Mothers of America, (NY: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1922), 3:159.
4 “Read, George,” ed. Dumas Malone, Dictionary of American Biography (NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1935), 15:422-424.
5 Greene & Greene, Pioneer Mothers, (1922), 3:211.
6 John Sanderson, Biography of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence (Philadelphia: R. W. Pomeroy, 1824), IV:27.
7 Greene & Greene, Pioneer Mothers, (1922), 3:133.
8 “Stockton, Richard,” ed. Malone, DAB (1936), 18:45-46.
9 “Josiah Bartlett,” National Park Service, July 4, 2004.
10 Greene & Greene, Pioneer Mothers, (1922), 3:12-13.

An Inspiring Relationship

The enduring love and affection between Founding Father John Hancock and his wife Dorothy is a story worthy of Valentine’s Day.

Dorothy Quincy Hancock was born about 10 years after her famous husband, John. In April 1775 during their engagement, the two were visiting the small town of Lexington, just outside of Boston. Dorothy stayed with Lydia Hancock (John’s aunt) and John stayed with Pastor Jonas Clark. They both witnessed the first battle of the American War for Independence: the Battle of Lexington Green. (The following account is related in the 1912 book The Pioneer Mothers of America, reprinted by WallBuilders as Wives of the Signers):

On April 18th….Dr. Joseph Warren hastily dispatched Paul Revere on the ride that has made his name immortal. About midnight, Revere galloped up to the Rev. Mr. Clark’s house….By daybreak, one hundred and fifty men had mustered for the defense. John Hancock, with gun and sword, prepared to go out and fight with the minute-men, but [Samuel] Adams checked him….Hancock…went with him back through the rear of the house and garden to a thickly wooded hill where they could watch the progress of events. Dorothy Quincy and Aunt Lydia remained in the house, as no danger was apprehended there, and so by chance were eye witnesses of the first battle of the Revolution. Dorothy watched the fray from her bedroom window and in her narration of it notes: “Two men are being brought into the house. One, whose head has been grazed by a ball, insisted that he was dead, but the other, who was shot through the arm, behaved better.”

Dorothy helped minister to the wounded men.

The Hancock’s were married four months later, but since John was president of the Continental Congress, the two were forced to spend much time apart. Many of John’s letters to her reveal his deep affection for her.

My Dear Dear Dolly….I shall make out as well as I can, but I assure you, my Dear Soul, I long to have you here….When I part from you again it must be a very extraordinary occasion….I was exceeding glad to hear from you & hope soon to receive another letter.

My Dearest Dolly: No Congress today, and I have been as busily employed as you can conceive–quite lonesome, and in a domestic situation that ought to be relieved as speedily as possible! This relief depends upon you, and the greater dispatch [haste] you make, and the sooner you arrive here, the more speedy will be my relief!

Valentine’s Day is a good time to learn more about the loving relationships so common among our Founders and their wives.

Thieves Vinegar Recipe from the 1700s

This document from the WallBuilders collection is a recipe for Thieves Vinegar from the late 1700s. Thieves was used in a number ways as a remedy to fight against several diseases which affected early America.

Transcript:

Thieves Vinegar

Take rue, wormwood, tansey [sic., tansy], sage, hoorhound [sic., horehound], rosemary and flowers of lavender—of each one handful—put these herbs into a quart of strong white wine vinegar.

Let it stand either by the fire or in a sand heat 4 days, then boil it in a covered jar emerged to the neck in water. Cone must be taken not to let the steam evaporate when cold. Strain it and add 1 ounce of camphor. Bottle it and cork it close.

To keep off infection wash the loins, feet and hands, and sniff it.

For the headache add volatile salts.

John & Abigail Adams

The story of John and Abigail Adams is an example of lasting love, affection, trust, and openness.

Abigail was born in 1744 to a Congregationalist minister; she had limited formal education, but her self-education was extensive. John Adams, born in 1735, was an attorney when he met Abigail in 1761. After an initial rocky start at their first meeting (John was not impressed with Abigail or her sisters, and Abigail’s mother was not impressed with him), they would court over the course of the next three years. During their courtship, John wrote this letter to Abigail:

Dear Miss Adorable, I hereby order you to give [me] as many kisses and as many hours of your company after 9 o’clock as [I] shall please to demand, and charge them to my account.

John and Abigail married on October 25, 1764. Throughout their 54 years of marriage (Abigail died in 1818 & John in 1826), they shared an extensive correspondence of over 1,100 letters. In this massive correspondence, they addressed topics from politics to everyday life, from their family to their love for each other. (These letters have been preserved and printed in various forms.)

Here are just a few examples of the many letters they exchanged:

I dare not express to you at 300 miles how ardently I long for your return. I have some very miserly wishes and cannot consent to your spending one hour in town till, at least, I have had you twelve. The idea plays about my heart, unnerves my hand whilst I write, [and] awakens all the tender sentiments that years have increased and matured. (Abigail to John: October 16, 1774 — written when John was serving in the Continental Congress)

[I] pray you to come on [as] soon as possible….As to money to bear your expenses, you must, if you can, borrow of some friend enough to bring you here. If you cannot borrow enough, you must sell horses, oxen, sheep, cows, anything at any rate rather than not come on. If no one will take the place, leave it to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field. (John to Abigail: May 14, 1789 — written when John was serving as the first Vice-President)

Take some time to learn about the loving relationships that existed between many of our Founding Father and Founding Mothers!

Mothers In History

We always appreciate our moms, but Mother’s Day is a special time set aside to honor them. Throughout history, leaders have acknowledged and honored the importance of mothers.

It is agreeable to observe how differently modern writers and the inspired author of the Proverbs describe a fine woman….The one is admired abroad; the other is honored and beloved at home. “Her children arise up and call her blessed, her husband also, and he praiseth her.” There is no fame in the world equal to this; nor is there a note in music half so delightful as the respectful language with which a grateful son or daughter perpetuates the memory of a sensible and affectionate mother. (Benjamin Rush, 1787)

Among the first things you are to learn are your duties to your parents. These duties are commanded by God, and are necessary to your happiness in this life. The commands of God are, “Honor thy father and thy mother.” – “Children, obey your parents in all things.” These commands are binding on all children; they cannot be neglected without sin. Whatever God has commanded us to do we must perform, without calling in question the propriety of the command. (Noah Webster, 1832)

American history abounds with examples of women that have been inspirational to previous generations, and Mother’s Day is a great opportunity to discover their stories and make them an inspiration for mothers today.

One such example is Elizabeth Lewis–wife of Declaration of Independence signer Francis Lewis and the mother of three. British soldiers were dispatched to capture her and destroy their home. As they shelled the house, a cannonball struck right beside where Elizabeth stood but she refused to yield. The British seized her and made her a prisoner of war, holding her for several months in deplorable conditions. Her health was destroyed, and after her release, she never recovered, dying in 1779.

Another amazing woman is Abigail Adams–wife of Declaration signer and second President John Adams and the mother of six. A sickly child with little formal education, she became self-taught and rose to the highest levels of knowledge and leadership. She also taught her children to love God and their country, and her son John Quincy Adams (sixth President of the United States) clearly recalled the religious and patriotic lessons she taught him. Abigail fully lived up to the example of the virtuous wife in Proverbs 31.

Be sure to honor the mothers in your life and encourage your family to learn about heroic mothers of the past.

John & Abigail Adams Anniversary

October 25th, is the wedding anniversary of John and Abigail Adams. They were married on this date in 1764 when John was 29 years old and Abigail 20.

After an initial rocky start at their first meeting in 1761 (John was not impressed with Abigail or her sisters, and Abigail’s mother was not impressed with him), they would court over the course of the next three years and then marry.

The numerous letters between them (over 1,100) has left us a wonderful and heart-touching record of their life and times. The letters cover topics from their love for each other to everyday life, from politics to raising their children (they had 6 children, with 4 living to adulthood)–they talked about it all!

Here are just a few examples of their lasting loving relationship:

Dear Miss Adorable, I hereby order you to give [me] as many kisses and as many hours of your company after 9 o’clock as [I] shall please to demand, and charge them to my account. (John to Abigail: October 4, 1762)

I dare not express to you at 300 miles how ardently I long for your return. I have some very miserly wishes and cannot consent to your spending one hour in town till, at least, I have had you twelve. The idea plays about my heart, unnerves my hand whilst I write, [and] awakens all the tender sentiments that years have increased and matured. (Abigail to John: October 16, 1774)

[I] pray you to come on [as] soon as possible….As to money to bear your expenses, you must, if you can, borrow of some friend enough to bring you here. If you cannot borrow enough, you must sell horses, oxen, sheep, cows, anything at any rate rather than not come on. If no one will take the place, leave it to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field. (John to Abigail: May 14, 1789)

 

Celebrating Mother’s Day!

Hopefully, we already show appreciation for moms all year long, but Mother’s Day is a great day to go a step beyond and do something special for mothers! In celebration of Mother’s Day, we wanted to share with you some fun facts about its history:

    • American celebrations of mothers were held prior to the official Mother’s Day holiday. For example, Anna Reeves Jarvis coordinated celebrations in Virginia before the Civil War and in West Virginia after the War. Other early versions of Mother’s Day were organized from the 1870s to the early 1900s by Julia Ward Howe, Juliet Calhoun Blakely, Mary Towles Sasseen, Frank Hering, and others.
    • On May 10, 1908, Anna Jarvis (pictured on the right), daughter of Anna Reeves Jarvis, organized the first modern Mother’s Day celebrations in West Virginia and Philadelphia in honor of her own mother. (She also spoke against the rampant commercialism related to Mother’s Day.)
    • In 1910, West Virginia became the first state to hold an official statewide celebration.
    • On May 9, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson issued the first federal Mother’s Day proclamation (on the right), declaring the holiday to be recognized the second Sunday in May.

Mothers deserve recognition for their many contributions to America’s history, and at WallBuilders, we have several wonderful works related to some of the great mothers in history as well as much more.

Laura Bridgman Letter

Laura Bridgman (1829-1889) was a blind and deaf student under Samuel G. Howe at the Perkins School for the Blind during the middle of the 1800’s.1 (The school was originally chartered in 1829 and opened in 1832 by Dr. John Fisher and Howe with the support of Col. Thomas Perkins. It sought to enable the blind to live a full life through a holistic curriculum.2)

Laura Bridgman’s incredible success helped illustrate the school’s mission by being the first person with her disabilities to receive a high degree of education and the ability to communicate in the English language, paving the way for others such as Helen Keller. During her life she became widely known not only in American, but in England as well due mostly to the extensive treatment she received in Charles Dickens’ book American Notes.

During his visit to the school in 1842 Dickens describes seeing her write, saying

In doing so, I observed that she kept her left hand always touching, and following up, her right, in which, of course, she held the pen. No line was indicated by any contrivance, but she wrote straight and freely.3

At the time of his visit, Dickens also explains that Dr. Howe, “is occupied now, in devising means of imparting to her, higher knowledge; and of conveying to her some adequate idea of the Great Creator of that universe in which, dark and silent and scentless though it be to her, she has such deep delight and glad enjoyment.” 4

Years later Laura herself described her salvation to her minister writing:

In June, I heard Jesus speak down from his throne into my heart, before and after meeting an humble, devoted and Christian woman, in Vermont [Mrs. Palmer] for whom I had a glow of respect and love, because she appeared to have love to God and Jesus and was rich in faith.…My heart was opened by the hand of Jesus, and He illumined my heart with glory and light and grace. I beheld his face boldly, granting his Holy Word I felt my soul fall into his hands. My feelings were governed by the Spirit of God, and Jesus Christ. God taught me to pray and guided my heart in his way.5

This letter, written by Laura when she was 39, discusses the passing of her father, Daniel Bridgman, which occurred towards the end of November in 1868.


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L.B. March 14th 1869

My very dear friend

A happy morn the beam of the sun is very brilliant & gladdening to my heart in my room. It is a blessed Sabbath that we should enjoy as far as possible. I presume that you are designed to go to church all day. Do you remember of writing & invited me while I was with my dear parents last summer. I shall be happy to accept the invitation if nothing occurs to prevent the visit in your cheerful home. I invite you to accompany me home if it is convenient for you to guide me. Julia takes the same cars going home near the house of my home I can go to the dep. with her you could meet me thereat. I will be much obliged to you for the trouble of procuring a ticket for my free trip immediately. There is not decision for a vacation yet. I shall look for a reply from you to this rather shortly & to know your plans. My dear Papa was released from all his suffering the last week of Nov. unto the throne of God. What a sad journey I shall take in his death. I cannot anticipate the enjoyment of being at home as high as before. My last sister is engaged to the last Brother of mine in law. So it seems to my poor heart like a broken home I am so anxious to go to my lonely Mother & comfort her. They seem so impatient to welcome her home. John & his wife live there. But they do not sit with Mama at all. Give my love to all folks. God bless you.

Your aff. friend, Laura


Endnotes

1 “Laura Bridgman,” Perkins School for the Blind, accessed December 8, 2023.
2 “Perkins Founding,” Perkins School for the Blind, accessed December 8, 2023.
3 Charles Dickens, American Notes (New York: John W. Lovell Company, 1883), 622.
4 Dickens, American Notes (1883), 625-626.
5 Maud Howe, Laura Bridgman: Dr. Howe’s Famous Pupil and What He Taught Her (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1903), 283.

Celebrating Abigail Adams

Abigail Adams is the first of only two women in American history to be the wife of one President and the mother of another. Born in 1744 to a Congregationalist minister, her formal education was limited, but her self-education was extensive, and her wisdom and advice caused her to be a trusted adviser to significant Founding Fathers, especially her famous husband, John Adams. [1]

Probably the most profound influence in guiding and shaping her life was her strong Christian faith. Her knowledge of the Scriptures was intimate, evidenced not only in her life but especially in her letters. Consider just a few from the year 1775 when she was personally witnessing the start of the American Revolution. For example, following the Battles of Lexington and Concord, she told her husband, John:

Nor doth the eye say unto the hand, “I have no need of thee” [1 Corinthians 12:21]. The Lord will not cast off His people, neither will He forsake his inheritance [Psalm 94:14]. Great events are most certainly in the womb of futurity, and if the present chastisements which we experience have a proper influence upon our conduct, the event will certainly be in our favor. . . . Pharaoh’s [i.e., King George III’s] heart is hardened, and he refuseth to hearken to them and will not let the people go [Exodus 8:32]. May their deliverance be wrought out for them, as it was for the children of Israel [Exodus 12]. [2]

Several weeks later in describing the 1775 burning of Charlestown and Battle of Bunker Hill, she told him:

“The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong; but the God of Israel is He that giveth strength and power unto His people. Trust in Him at all times, ye people, pour out your hearts before Him; God is a refuge for us” [Ecclesiastes 9:11 and Psalm 62:8]. Charlestown is laid in ashes. The battle began upon our entrenchments upon Bunker’s Hill, Saturday morning about three o’clock, and has not ceased yet, and it is now three o’clock Sabbath afternoon. [3]

A week later, she wrote:

We live in continual expectation of hostilities. Scarcely a day that does not produce some; but like good Nehemiah, having made our prayer unto God and set the people with their swords, their spears, and their bows, we will say unto them “Be not ye afraid of them; remember the Lord, who is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives and your houses” [Nehemiah 4:14]. [4]

She later told John:

And unto Him who mounts the whirlwind and directs the storm [Nahum 1:3] I will cheerfully leave the ordering of my lot; and whether adverse or prosperous days should be my future portion, I will trust in His right hand to lead me safely through [Psalm 139:10], and after a short rotation of events, fix me in a state immutable and happy. [5]

By the end of 1775, a number of their friends had been killed in the conflict with Great Britain, and her own mother had also passed away. She told John:

How long, O Lord, shall the whole land say, I am sick! [Isaiah 33:24] Oh show us wherefore it is that Thou art thus contending with us [Job 10:2]. In a very particular manner I have occasion to make this inquiry, who have had breach upon breach – nor has one wound been permitted to be healed ere it is made to bleed afresh. In six weeks I count five of my near connections laid in the grave. . . . But the heavy stroke which most of all disturbs me is my dear mother. . . . He who deigned to weep over a departed friend [John 11:35] will surely forgive a sorrow which at all times desires to be bounded and restrained by a firm belief that a Being of infinite wisdom and unbounded goodness will carve out my portion in tender mercy to me. Yea, though He slay me, I will trust in Him, said holy Job [Job 13:15]. What though His corrective hand hath been stretched against me; I will not murmur. Though earthly comforts are taken away, I will not repine [1 Corinthians 10:10]. He who gave them has surely a right to limit their duration, and He has continued them to me much longer than I deserve. I might have been stripped of my children, as many others have been. I might – oh, forbid it Heaven – I might have been left a solitary widow! [6]

By the close of the year, Abigail told John her personal conviction that:

[H]e who neglects his duty to his Maker may well be expected to be deficient and insincere in his duty towards the public. [7]

Around that time, she also wrote her close friend, Mercy Otis Warren, America’s first female historian who is called “The Conscience of the American Revolution,” and similarly told her:

A patriot without religion in my estimation is as great a paradox as an honest man without the fear of God. [8]

Her strong faith was just as apparent in her writings to her young son, John Quincy Adams. In 1778, John was dispatched to France and took with him their ten year old son. [9] After they arrived in Europe, Abigail told her young son:

It is almost four months since you left your native land and embarked upon the mighty waters, in quest of a foreign country. . . . [Y]ou have constantly been upon my heart and mind. . . . Great learning and superior abilities, should you ever possess them, will be of little value and small estimation, unless virtue, honor, truth, and integrity are added to them. Adhere to those religious sentiments and principles which were early instilled into your mind and remember that you are accountable to your Maker for all your words and actions. . . . I would much rather you should have found your grave in the ocean you have crossed, or that any untimely death crop you in your infant years, than see you an immoral, profligate, or graceless child. [10]

In 1780 when her son John Quincy Adams was in Paris, she reminded him:

You have seen how inadequate the aid of man would have been if the winds and the seas had not been under the particular government of that Being Who “stretched out the heavens as a span” [Isaiah 40:12], Who “holdeth the ocean in the hollow of His hand” [Isaiah 40:12], and “rideth upon the wings of the wind” [Psalm 104:3]. . . . The only sure and permanent foundation of virtue is religion. Let this important truth be engraven upon your heart. And also that the foundation of religion is the belief of the only one God, and a just sense of His attributes as a Being infinitely wise, just, and good, to Whom you owe the highest reverence, gratitude, and adoration; Who superintends and governs all nature, even to clothing the lilies of the field [Matthew 6:28] and hearing the young ravens when they cry [Psalm 147:9]; but more particularly regards man, Whom he created after His own image [Genesis 1:26], and breathed into him an immortal spirit [Genesis 2:7], capable of a happiness beyond the grave. [11]

What Abigail taught the young John Quincy Adams never departed him. In fact, when he was quite elderly, he reminisced of her impact upon him, recalling:

[In the] spring and summer of 1775, she taught me to repeat daily, after the Lord’s Prayer, before rising from bed, the Ode of Collins [a patriotic poem] on the patriot warriors who fell in the war. . . . Of the impression made upon my heart by the sentiments inculcated in these beautiful effusions of patriotism and poetry, you may form an estimate by the fact that now, seventy-one years after they were thus taught me, I repeat them from memory. [12]

From his mother, this great Christian patriot early learned a love of God and a love of his country. But such was the Christian influence of Abigail Adams, a Godly heroine of the American Revolution.

We have recently obtained one of Abigail’s letters, which you can read and which also references her faith. For more about Abigail, get the book Wives of the Signers.


Endnotes

[1] “John Adams and the Massachusetts Constitution,” The Massachusetts Judicial Branch: Supreme Court Judicial (at: https://www.mass.gov/courts/sjc/john-adams-c.html) (accessed on March 8, 2013). See also: “Abigail Smith Adams (1744-1818),” Abigail Adams (at: https://www.abigailadams.org/) (accessed on March 8, 2013) and Elizabeth Ellet, Women of the Revolution (New York; Baker and Scribner, 1849) Vol. II, p. 31.
[2] Abigail Adams, Familiar Letters of John Adams and His Wife Abigail Adams, During the Revolution, Charles Francis Adams, editor (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1875), p. 54, to John Adams on  May 7, 1775.
[3] Abigail Adams, Letters of Mrs. Adams, the Wife of John Adams. With an Introductory Memoir by Her Grandson Charles Francis Adams (Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1840), Vol. I, p. 40, to John Adams on June 18, 1775.
[4] Abigail Adams, Letters of Mrs. Adams, the Wife of John Adams. With an Introductory Memoir by Her Grandson Charles Francis Adams (Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1840), Vol. I, p. 45, to John Adams on June 25, 1775.
[5] Abigail Adams, Familiar Letters of John Adams and His Wife Abigail Adams, During the Revolution, Charles Francis Adams, editor (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1875), p. 98, to John Adams on September 16, 1775.
[6] Abigail Adams, Familiar Letters of John Adams and His Wife Abigail Adams, During the Revolution, Charles Francis Adams, editor (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1875), p. 106, to John Adams on October 9, 1775.
[7] Abigail Adams, Familiar Letters of John Adams and His Wife Abigail Adams, During the Revolution, Charles Francis Adams, editor (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1875), p. 122, to John Adams on November 5, 1775.
[8] Warren-Adams Letters: Being Chiefly a Correspondence Among John Adams, Samuel Adams, and John Warren (The Massachusetts Historical Society, 1917), Vol. I, p. 180, Abigail Adams to Mercy Warren in November, 1775.
[9] William H. Seward, The Life and Public Services of John Quincy Adams, Sixth President of the United States, with the Eulogy Delivered Before the Legislature of New York (Auburn: Derby, Miller and Company, 1849), pp. 30-32.
[10] Abigail Adams, Letters of Mrs. Adams, the Wife of John Adams. With an Introductory Memoir by Her Grandson Charles Francis Adams (Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1840), Vol. I, pp. 122-125, to John Quincy Adams in June, 1778.
[11] Abigail Adams, Letters of Mrs. Adams, the Wife of John Adams. With an Introductory Memoir by Her Grandson Charles Francis Adams (Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1840), Vol. I, pp. 146- 147, to John Quincy Adams on March 20, 1780.
[12] John Quincy Adams, Memoirs of John Quincy Adams, by Charles Francis Adams, editor (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott and Company, 1874), Vol. 1, pp. 5-6, to Mr. Sturge in 1846.

Women Who Shaped History

This month is Women’s History month — an excellent time to remember and celebrate some historically important women.

Abigail Adams

women-who-shaped-history-1Though her poor health kept her from receiving a formal education, Abigail rose above this, teaching herself to master several areas of study, including even learning a foreign language. She was the close confidant of her husband John Adams, who trusted her counsel and relied on her for sound military intelligence information as well as political guidance. She was an excellent business woman, a faithful wife, and a devoted mother. The first woman to live in the White House, she was the wife of one U. S. President and the mother of another. She was also a strong and outspoken Christian, leaving behind a rich legacy in her extensive personal writings.  1

Florence Nightingale

women-who-shaped-history-2Born into a wealthy English family, Florence Nightingale went against society’s expectations to fulfill God’s divine call of service on her life2.  Famous for her nursing work on the battlefield, she left a legacy transforming the health standards not only in England but elsewhere. In fact, the President of the United States consulted her for advice during the Civil War. Author of 17 books and numerous articles, she worked relentlessly to better the hospital industry and health care, and to train nurses to care for the sick.3

Susanna Wesley

women-who-shaped-history-3“The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.”  From her post as the mother of a busy household in the Epworth rectory, Susanna Wesley trained up a generation that would change the world.  She provided the well-regulated primary education for her 10 children that lived past infancy.4  Two of these children, John and Charles, would become influential even across the Atlantic, helping found the Methodist movement in America. She is known as the Mother of Methodism.


Endnotes

1 See for example Letters of Abigail Adams, the Wife of John Adams with an Introductory Memoir by her Grandson Charles Francis Adams, ed. Charles Francis Adams (Boston: Wilkins, Carter, and Company, 1848); Charles Francis Adams, Familiar Letters of John Adams and His Wife Abigail Adams, During the Revolution (New York: Hurd and Houghton, 1876).
2 Louise Selanders. “Florence Nightingale,” Encyclopedia Britannica Online, accessed March 11, 2021.
3 “The Life of Florence Nightingale,” Reynolds-Finley Historical Library, accessed March 11, 2021; “The Faith Behind the Famous: Florence Nightingale: Christian History Sampler,” Christianity Today, January 1, 1990.
4 Abel Stevens, The Women of Methodism (New York: Carlton & Porter, 1866), 13, 24-28.

*Originally published March 2016.