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Mercy Otis Warren Research Paper


Mercy Otis Warren lived from 1728 to 1814, when women were not free to express themselves in public as their views became undermined. However, Warren was so bright that her views could not be ignored. She identified herself as a liberal woman and explorer.[1] Similar to male writers such as Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson, Warren wrote on the subject of America Revolution. She expressed her observations, feelings and thoughts, in her writings, and entrenched her ideas into the minds of many people.

Warren saw the birth of America since she associated with outstanding members of revolutionary community. James Otis was her brother while James Warren, a Massachusetts politician and successful landowner was her husband. [2]

She was a creative writer and reporter. Warren did not seem embarrassed for being a woman, in her work. Rather, she used her femininity to structure her intellectual inquest in an area that experienced male domination. Warren used her writings at the time of the American Revolution, together with semi-public correspondences, to show that women deserved a better placement.

At the time of Warren’s birth, women could only stay at home carrying out domestic chores. Women could not get education opportunities as men dominated the society. However, Warren did not get satisfied with just staying at home and carrying out domestic chores.

She tried to educate herself and became the earliest woman to take part in the revolutionary war against the English rule. Warren’s desire for knowledge was unquenchable, and her curious character made her put her ideas on paper. However, the process was hard for her since she was a woman.

Warren’s place, as a woman, gave her plenty of time to consider the activities of the revolution and offered a keyhole, which allowed her to record the events of the war. She explained how the happenings of the revolution entered her “quiet cottage and brought to observation a mind that had not yielded to the assertion that all political attentions lay out of the road of female life.” [3]

She held that nothing could stop her from pursuing her goals. She also spoke to those who felt that women belonged to an inferior race, and they could not do other tasks apart from domestic chores. She reminded them “every domestic enjoyment depended on the unimpaired possession of civil and religious freedom.”[4]

Warren accepted her woman identity. However, she differed with those who felt that women could not take part in political affairs. She also argued that the activities of the revolution touched all corners of the society including domestic affairs. Warren let her femininity create her expression and perceptions on history apart from just introducing herself as a woman in the prologue of her work.

She likened a woman who wrote to a teacher in class. Warren’s work was full of evidence that showed her belief on the role of a historian. She felt that her role as a historian was enlightening her readers about politics and virtue.

Warren often communicated with her female friends through letters. These communications were full of political views and expressions. Their correspondence came from a deep sense of association with posterity although they never wished for publication of some of the things they wrote.

Warren reserved these letters and edited them for grammar and spelling mistakes. [5]She wrote letters having the future generation in mind. She wanted other generations to refer to her work, as patriotic documents, with an eye to future generations that would read her letters.

Warren also used letters as an informal forum from where she could build her political and historical responsiveness. Warren managed to express her views on intellectualism and gender, through these forums. Warren, in a letter to Winthrop, expressed her reasons why women should take part in politics.[6]

She explained how men, who were husbands and sons, became killed in conflicts as mothers continued with their domestic chores.[7] Warren described herself as a mother and a wife. She lamented on seeing how the controversial environment of the colonies influenced her feminine sphere of domestic and social life. Warren, also, communicated her apathy towards those who thought that only men could take part in political activities.[8]

Warren symbolized the Republican motherhood as she supported Republican loyalty and civic virtue. She wrote a letter to James Warren, her son, when he was a student at Harvard University. In the letter, Warren warned her son against immorality. She told him to refrain from wild passions and not to have friends with questionable characters.

She also encouraged him to know how to interact with the world as books alone were not enough in the walk of life. “But the knowledge of us my son is a value of higher importance.” [9] Warren encouraged his son to delay his natural appetites so that he could be valuable in the society, eventually. She showed Rush’s virtues on moral steadfastness and civic duty, in the letter to her son.

Warren discarded the notion that political affairs were outside the field of female notice although she found her identity in the domestic chores of a colonial woman.[10]She also felt that both men and women needed liberty in expressing their political ideas.

As episodes in America approached a breaking point, Warren approached Catharine Macaulay for advice. [11]Catherine was a renowned historian, in Britain, and the two started a long relationship in which ideas of historical and political nature formed key areas of discussion.

Warren, in one of her letters, discussed the events that took place as Americans approached the British in an armed conflict. Warren described her transmission of the modern policy as a “faithful historian.” [12] Warren thought about her future when she called herself the faithful historian during the revolution.

Letters by Warren showed a passionate and intellectual reaction to the revolution. Besides, her connection with other like-minded women showed the exceptional environment of the American Revolution since women participated rationally and philosophically with public matters.

Warren created historical theories from letters that she got through correspondence. The informal correspondence allowed Warren and women from other colonies to engage rationally with political and historical notions. The American Revolution gave women a chance to communicate on the crucial events taking place in their different colonies. Their communications showed how Warren and other women tried to restructure and streamline their civic character as women.

In conclusion, Mercy Otis Warren lived at a time when women were not free to express themselves in public as their views became undermined. She dedicated her life to change how women became viewed during the American Revolution. While she lived in a world dominated by men, she always made efforts to see that her voice was loud enough. She took advantage of her woman nature to complete her historical project on femininity during American Revolution.

Warren showed that women could serve as mothers, wives and take part in political activities, or activities outside the domestic sphere. Warren showed, through her writings, the exceptional place of women during the revolution. Warren was a writer whose work came from the heart. She depended on her senses to expressing a history that had a deep impact upon future generations. Her patriotism made her tell the story of American Revolution.

Bibliography

Anthony, Susan Bronwell, Matilda Joslyn Gage, Ida Husted Harper, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Eds. History of Women’s Suffrage:1848-1861, New York: Fowler & Wells, 1881.

Richards, Jeffrey. Mercy Otis Warren. New York: Twayne Publishers. 1995.

Warren, Mercy Otis. History of the Rise, Progress and Termination of the American Revolution interspersed with Biographical, Political and Moral Observations. Edited by Lester H. Cohen. Indianapolis: Liberty Classics, 1988.

—. Poems Dramatic and Miscellaneous. Boston: Oxford University Press, 1892.

—. “Observations on the New Constitution, and on the Federal and State Conventions, by a Columbian Patriot.” Boston,1788. .

—. Mercy Otis Warren: Selected Letters. Edited by Jeffrey H. Richards and Sharon M. Harris. Athens GA: The University of Georgia Press, 2009.

Zagarri, Rosemarie. A Women’s Dilemma: Mercy Otis Warren and the American Revolution. Wheeling, IL: Harlan Davidson, 1995.

Footnotes

  1. Mercy Otis Warren to Catherine Sawbridge Macaulay, Plymouth, February 15, 1777 in Mercy Otis Warren: Selected Letters, Jeffrey Richards and Sharon Harris, ed. (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 2009), 92.
  2. Rosemarie Zagarri, A Women’s Dilemma: Mercy Otis Warren and the American Revolution (Wheeling, IL: Harlan Davidson, 1995), 15.
  3. Mercy Otis Warren, History of the Rise, Progress, and Termination of the American Revolution Interspersed with Biographical, Political, and Moral Observations edited by Lester H. Cohen (Indianapolis: Liberty Classics, 1988), 17.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Jeffrey Richards. Mercy Otis Warren (New York: Twayne Publishers, 1995), 45.
  6. Mercy Otis Warren, “Observations on the New Constitution, and on the Federal and State Conventions, by a Columbian Patriot,” Boston,1788. Library of Congress website.
  7. Warren to Winthrop, Plymouth 1774, Warren: Selected Letters, 10.
  8. Warren to Winthrop, 28-29.
  9. Mercy Otis Warren to James Warren, Jr. in Warren: Selected Letters, 18-19.
  10. Susan Bronwell Anthony, Matilda Joslyn Gage, Ida Husted Harper, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Eds, History of Women’s Suffrage:1848-1861 (New York: Fowler & Wells, 1881), 37.
  11. Mercy Otis Warren, Poems Dramatic and Miscellaneous (Boston: Oxford University Press, 1892), 42.
  12. Mercy Otis Warren to Catharine Sawbridge Macaulay, Plymouth N.E. December 29, 1774 in Warren: Selected Letters, 37.
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