The Muse of the Revolution: The Secret Pen of Mercy Otis Warren and the Founding of a Nation

The Muse of the Revolution: The Secret Pen of Mercy Otis Warren and the Founding of a Nation

The Muse of the Revolution: The Secret Pen of Mercy Otis Warren and the Founding of a Nation

The Muse of the Revolution: The Secret Pen of Mercy Otis Warren and the Founding of a Nation

Synopsis

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.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Excerpt

When I began researching this biography of Mercy Otis Warren, friends often wondered about her identity. I explained that John Adams considered her the “most accomplished woman in America” whose literary works he thought “incontestable instances of genius.” His wife, Abigail, who was one of Mrs. Warren's closest friends, “loved the characters” drawn by her pen. To Thomas Jefferson, Mrs. Warren was brilliance itself. George Washington praised her literary merits. Diplomat Arthur Lee claimed he knew no woman “whose conversation pleased him more than Mrs. Warren's.”

During the Revolutionary era, Mrs. Warren's propaganda plays appeared on the front page of the Massachusetts Spy and the Boston Gazette. A dozen years later, her widely distributed pamphlet “Observations on the New Constitution” influenced the Bill of Rights. By 1805 her three-volume publication of The History of the Rise, Progress and Termination of the American Revolution became the sole Antifederalist, or Jeffersonian republican, interpretation of that extraordinary event.

Mrs. Warren's words still have a contemporary ring. Americans, she reminded readers of her History, must never forget that “the elective franchise is in their own hands; that it ought not to be abused, either for personal gratifications, or the indulgence of partisan acrimony. The principles of revolution ought ever to be the pole-star of the statesman, respected by the rising generation.”

To most people, Mercy Otis Warren, nevertheless, remains a forgotten Founding Mother. While occasionally cited in books about the Founding Fathers, studies of her life are usually confined to college seminars, academic biographies, and the rare-book rooms of libraries.

It was not my intention to focus upon the theoretical aspects of Mrs. Warren's long life, but rather to paint an intimate picture of her life for the general reader. Through excerpted selections from her correspondence . . .

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