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Women's History Month 2024 - Mercy Otis Warren

Started by Mrs. Smith, March 10, 2024, 02:11:09 PM

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Mrs. Smith

Good morning, and welcome to this week's installment of stories about Revolutionary War Women.

Today we'll learn about Mercy Otis Warren: Historian, Poet, Playwright, Political Commentator, provided to us by desert_diver

Mercy Otis Warren (September 25, 1728 – October 19, 1814) was an important person in the late colonial and early American republic period of history.

Mercy was exposed to political activity from an early age.  Her father, James Otis, was elected to Massachusetts colonial legislature in 1745; her older brother, James Otis Jr., was an early and outspoken advocate of revolutionary ideas.  Mercy married James Warren (no relation to Joseph Warren) in 1754, who was also active in politics.  The Warrens hosted gatherings of independence-minded leading citizens in their home starting in 1766. 

Mercy had no formal education; her schooling consisted of sitting in on lessons for her brothers and private tutoring in classical literature by her uncle, Rev. Johnathan Russel.  Her literary talents were recognized prior to the Revolutionary War - shortly after the Boston Tea Party, John Adams wrote a letter to James Warren, expressing the desire that  "a poetical Genius," such as Mercy, would write an account of the event.

Mercy published 3 plays and 2 prose dramas before and during the Revolutionary War.  All were critical of British imperial policies or Loyalists.  Mercy continued her literary work after the war.  She was initially critical of the Constitution because it lacked a Bill of Rights.  She published a collection of poems in the 1790s.  Her major work, published in 1805, is a history of the Revolution titled History of the Rise, Progress, and Termination of the American Revolution.  The work included Mercy's assessment of several of the Founding Fathers, including Washington and Adams.  She continued to correspond with friends and political figures until her death. 

In 2001, the Mercy Otis Warren Memorial Committee and the Massachusetts Daughters of the American Revolution commissioned a 7' bronze statue of Mercy, and it stands on the grounds of the Barnstable County Courthouse, on Cape Cod. In it, she holds a book in one hand, and a quill in the other. The pedestal is inscribed:


1728 - 1814


Additional Sources:
The George Washington Presidential Library at Mt. Vernon (accessed 29Feb24): - this link has an extensive list of sources

National Womens History Museum (accessed 29Feb24):

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