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The Muse of the Revolution: The Secret Pen of Mercy Otis Warren and the Founding of a Nationby Nancy Stuart
Synopses & Reviews
In their landmark book on extraordinary women, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony hailed Founding Mother Mercy Otis Warren (1728-1814) for advocating not only the freedom of man alone, but . . . that of her own sex also. In this meticulously researched biography of the first female historian of the American Revolution and our first woman playwright, Nancy Rubin Stuart depicts Mrs. Warren's life and patriotic achievements.
The sister of firebrand James the Patriot Otis, who first declared that taxation without representation is tyranny, the highly educated Mercy Otis Warren was the mother of five sons and the wife of James Warren, Speaker of the Massachusetts House and paymaster general of the Continental Army. In 1775 patriotic Mrs. Warren served as her husband's private secretary at the headquarters of the Massachusetts Committee of Safety and the Provincial Congress, where she heard news about the Revolution that few men--and virtually no women--enjoyed.
Mercy Otis Warren was a close friend of both John and Abigail Adams; she and Abigail shared their fears, comforted each other in their husbands' absences, exchanged theories about child-rearing, and even ran a small importing business together. John Adams, who was impressed with Mrs. Warren's acumen and literary abilities, praised her real genius and encouraged her to write satirical plays, poems, and a history of the American Revolution. After reading her three-volume History of the Rise, Progress and Termination of the American Revolution (1805), however, Adams exploded. In one of ten blistering letters, he accused her of having a determined resolution to denigrate his role in the Revolution. Thiseye-opening biography reveals their complex relationship--and why it unraveled.
The Muse of the Revolution captures Mrs. Warren's bold interactions with other notables of American history, among them Sam Adams, Henry Knox, Benjamin Lincoln, Hannah Winthrop, Elbridge Gerry, and George and Martha Washington.
Mrs. Warren satirized both British and American Loyalists in her popular plays and poems and authored an influential critique of the U.S. Constitution whose principles were later incorporated into the Bill of Rights. Nancy Rubin Stuart reveals how Mrs. Warren's provocative writing made her an exception among the largely voiceless women of the eighteenth century, and she persuasively argues for Mercy's legacy to be appreciated by a new generation.
When John Adams observed that 'History is not the province of the ladies, ' he had in mind his former protege, the accomplished and prolific Mercy Otis Warren. Here Nancy Rubin Stuart restores Mrs.Warren to vibrant life, offering up a vivid picture of colonial America, and incidentally proving John Adams twice wrong.
--Pulitzer Prize winner Stacy Schiff and author of A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America
At last A full biography of Mercy Otis Warren--poet, playwright, pamphleteer, scholar, agitator for liberty Nancy Rubin Stuart's feminist re-telling of America's 'founding fathers' in revolution and nation-building is a wonderful corrective. This deeply researched, vigorously written portrait of the woman who chronicled the Revolution, improved the US constitution, campaigned for the Bill of Rights, and confronted her competitive, even malicious, male-controlled world with frequent successis stunning. Filled with surprises and important insights, both historical and contemporary, everybody concerned about our past, and our future, will want to read and gift this book.
--Blanche Weisen Cook, University Distinguished Professor, CUNY, and author of Eleanor Roosevelt: Volume 1 and 11
A fascinating reminder that the Founding Fathers did not birth the Revolution by themselves, and that the ideals of independence resonated as strongly with American women as they did with American men. As Americans confront the issue of ever-increasing executive privilege, we would do well to remember that the individual freedoms we prize so highly were secured by patriots like Mercy Otis Warren.
--Christine Kreiser, Managing Editor, American History Magazine
Playwright, poet, and historian, Mercy Otis Warren was both a witness to and chronicler of some of the most important events of the American Revolution. Nancy Rubin Stuart restores Warren to her proper place as one of the 'founding mothers' of American independence.
--Rosemarie Zagarri, George Mason University and author of A Woman's Dilemma: Mercy Otis Warren and the American Revolution
'History, ' John Adams told Mercy Otis Warren, 'is not the province of the ladies.' Those, as Adams learned quickly, were fighting words. This 'Founding Mother' was ready to take on the 'Founding Father.' Unlike the more diplomatic Abigail, Warren took the direct approach. She relished hurling her verbal darts piercing male pomposity. Adams was her most celebrated target but others, including John Hancock, came to feel the prick of her barbs. No one has ever captured the spirit of this woman better than Stuart.
--Dr. WilliamM. Fowler, Jr., Distinguished Professor of History at Northeastern University and former Director of the Massachusetts Historical Society
Praised by her mentor John Adams, Mercy Otis Warren was America's first woman playwright and female historian of the American Revolution. In this unprecedented biography, Nancy Rubin Stuart reveals how Warren's provocative writing made her an exception among the largely voiceless women of the eighteenth century.
About the Author
Nancy Rubin Stuart is an award-winning author specializing in womens and social history. The author of five books, she has appeared on national television and NPR, and has written for the New York Times and other publications. Stuart lives on Cape Cod.
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