If I'm A Lion, She's A Lion :: HeritageFriday, July 29, 2016
It came to my attention that perhaps I am the kind of woman who feels the fierce need to fight for people because of my relation to a pretty ballsy woman that lived during the Revolutionary War. This was only brought to my attention last night (and I’ve been busy all day teaching a crochet pattern) but I wanted to quickly share about this lady as a reminder to myself to dig deeper into her life.
Mercy Otis Warren was born September 14 1728 and died on October 19, 1814. She was a descendant of Edward Doty (direct descendant) who arrived to the colonies on The Mayflower. Mercy was one of thirteen children and the first daughter (I’m the first daughter, but I am also the only daughter, so…). Mercy, being only a female, was not offered tutors for formal education as her brothers were, but that didn’t stop her. She often sat in on her brother’s lessons and learned as well. Her brother, James, went on to attend Harvard and it is said that he encouraged Mercy’s education and considered her as an equal on all fronts.
Later in life, Mercy married James Warren in 1754. They settled together in Plymouth were James was the sheriff. James lived out a highly successful political career in which Mercy too, was active. He served as the Speaker of The House of Representatives in Massachusetts and even Paymaster to George Washington’s army during the Revolutionary War. Mercy was very outspoken and an accomplished writer, all of which her husband encouraged her in. She fiercely defended equality, a republic style of government, and civil and religious liberty.
Mercy’s literary and political voice was well recognized among her male peers. She was a force to be reckoned with and not to be taken lightly simply because of her sex and lack of formal education. John Adams, who would later become the second president, wrote to James Warren about his wife:
"Tell your wife that God Almighty has entrusted her with the Powers for the good of the World, which, in the cause of his Providence, he bestows on few of the human race. That instead of being a fault to use them, it would be criminal to neglect them.”
Isn’t that just amazing?
Mercy published many of her works, plays and poems under her true name—something unthinkable for women at her time. She broke the rules and called people out when she felt they needed called out. She did not hesitate to let people hear her thoughts and ideas, even if they did think they were treasonous or heretical. She stood up and shouted, fought, rallied, and caused hell for those I imagine truly wished she had never learned to read or write—truly wished she was more domestic and feminine.
The final paragraph on Mercy’s wiki page is too perfect not to share. I plan to search out biographies and learn more about this woman’s life. I want to be like her—a lioness…a stirring writer…a voice that is heard.
What a helluva a woman.
I might not get a wiki page, but I'm gonna cause a ruckus.
“Warren proved her ability to resonate to her colonial audience, men and women alike, despite the limited opportunity for women in her time. Furthermore, she proved courageous in being willing to put forth work calling out the authoritative power while raising a family, yet she was humble and practical in how she presented the commentary through quieter presentations. Her success was never above her personal dignity. She never took any political affiliation post-Revolution or a career having anything to do with politics. She said to her son, “The thorns, the thistles, and the briers, in the field of politics seldom permit the soil to produce anything… but ruin to the adventurer,” yet the public would not let her retire from commentating on the political conflicts of her later days.She concentrated her writing on strict political matters wrote many more short dramas, poems, and essays throughout wartime and post-Revolution with a commentating and critical voice.”