Founding Mothers by Cokie Roberts

If you enjoy reading history, take a look at this book!  We hear a lot about the founding fathers but not as much about the rolesfounding of women during the pre-Revolutionary period, the war, and George Washington’s terms in office.

The book begins with the story of Eliza Pinckney, mother of two outstanding patriots, who ran three plantations – at the age of sixteen!  Not only was she successful in her task; she gloried in introducing new crops to her fields.

Kitty Greene was the wife of General Nathanael Greene, the hero of the Battle of Guilford Courthouse.  Her lively personality helped to raise morale among American troops, and, after the war, she played a key role in the invention of the cotton gin.

Martha Washington, who was with her husband in those difficult days at Valley Forge, helped the soldiers in many ways.  Abigail Adams’ letters show her grasp of politics and serve as a major historical resource.  Benjamin Franklin’s wife was among the many women handling business matters while their husbands were away at war, on diplomatic missions, or running the new nation.

During Washington’s first term in office, he became so discouraged that he wrote a farewell address.  Jefferson and Hamilton feared that the nation was not yet strong enough to survive without his leadership, but it was a woman, Eliza Powel, who convinced him to accept another term.

Founding Mothers shows the difficulties of women’s lives in this period – economic hardships, the dangers of living in a nation at war, the limitations on rights for women, and their loneliness when husbands were away from home, sometimes for years at a time.

(Helen Snow, retired from Information Services)

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