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ZOOM: Women & The American Revolution   

**This class will be taught on Zoom**


The revolutionary war was fought on battlefields, in forests, and on the homefront—and the contributions of American women shaped the fight at every turn. They did this in every way imaginable, and while some prospered and thrived when the war came, others faltered and fell. Many American women fought for the patriot cause while almost as many others fought to stop them. The incredible spectrum of female participation in America’s founding conflict defies easy categorization and reminds us that the legacy of the revolution for American women was not simple, single, or remotely cut and dried.


Week by Week Outline


Jane Mecom

This lecture reconstructs the American Revolution from the perspective of Jane Mecom, the widow of a Boston shopkeeper—and the favorite little sister of Benjamin Franklin. During the war, Jane would be menaced by soldiers and made a refugee. She would lose her home and her possessions. All this was sadly typical for many other poor women brought low by the revolutionary crisis.


Mary Silliman

This lecture explores the several dramatic and frightening wartime experiences that punctuated the life of Mary Silliman, the wife and step-mother of two kidnapped patriot militiamen in order to illuminate larger truths about the toll that the war took on the fortunes, health, and sanity of many other home front families.


Deborah Sampson

This lecture tells the extraordinary story of Deborah Sampson, the young Massachusetts woman who disguised herself as a man named Robert Shurtlieff in order to fight in the Continental Army. It poses some simple questions: Who was she? Why she did she do it? How did she get away with it? And how did her wartime adventures in George Washington’s Army change her life?


Molly Brant

This lecture explores the American Revolution in Indian Country by focusing upon a Native Mohawk known to us as Molly Brant, the widow of a powerful British diplomat. Straddling two worlds – British and Iroquois – Molly spent the war trying to the fill the political vacuum created by her husband’s death and quickly emerged as the most important military and cultural broker in Native America.


Martha Ballard

This lecture tells the story of a Maine midwife named Martha Ballard, a quiet, dutiful wife, a busy mother, and a kind neighbor whose life was lived entirely in some very small towns. For that reason, perhaps, although she lived through many exciting changes in urban women’s sexual and political circumstances, her life seems – on the surface at least – to have been almost untouched by the 18th century gender revolution. 


A Sexual Revolution?

This lecture explores the revolutionary settlement for white women. The struggle for independence had allowed American women to assert themselves as political actors. As the 18th century gave way to the 19th century, would they happily resume their apolitical domestic roles now the war was won, or would they demand to be recognized and directly represented in the new political order. 


This class is not available at this time.  

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