Each week, Mr. Reed will relate the stories of people whose choices and actions make them heroes. See the table of contents for previous installments.
Two centuries before “women’s lib,” in the run-up to America’s Revolutionary War, Mercy Otis Warren was already a liberated woman by the standards of her day. And she did the liberating herself.
In the latter half of the 18th century, Warren was an accomplished poet, playwright, pamphleteer, and historian — though much of what she wrote was anonymous, in part to get a hearing where a woman might not otherwise be listened to. She also risked reprisal from King George III and the British troops with her subversive rhetoric in favor of American liberty and independence.
She was a close friend and confidant to almost all the major figures of the revolution: the Adamses (Samuel as well as John and Abigail), the Washingtons (both George and Martha), Thomas Jefferson, John Hancock, and Patrick Henry, among others. Many of the plans and activities of the Sons of Liberty and, later, the Committees of Correspondence were hatched in her Massachusetts home.
When the Constitution was debated, she was an outspoken anti-Federalist who insisted on the adoption of a Bill of Rights.
For decades, she advocated for women’s rights at a time when progress on that front must have seemed glacial at best. When the Constitution was debated, she was an outspoken anti-Federalist who insisted on the adoption of a Bill of Rights. She was the first person, man or woman, to pen a history of the conflict with Britain.
It’s for eminently good reason that Mercy Otis Warren is regarded in history as “the conscience of the revolution.”
Born in 1728 in West Barnstable, Massachusetts, Warren was stewed in the juices of independence from an early age. She was homeschooled by parents who encoura…