The title: Revolutionary Mothers: Women in the Struggle for America's Independence
The author: Carol Berkin
Publication: Vintage Books, 2005
Got it from: Visitor Center, Quincy, Massachusetts
I've been learning a lot about the American Revolution ever since I became interested in Abigail Adams, and I bought this book when I was on a tour of their home in Massachusetts. I have to confess it's taken me forever to read, even though it's not a long book at all. I started it on my holiday last June and finally when the new year rolled around, I told myself to just get it done.
Because this book is slight and doesn't spend too much time on any one woman, it feels like more of a jumping-off point for further research into this fascinating subject. It covers the everyday life of women on both sides of the war, from the well-to-do ladies of Boston to the camp followers to the plight of women who were slaves. The author is a professor of American history and this book suffered somewhat from sounding at times like a PhD thesis (x happened because of y, and here are the footnotes to back it up). I did enjoy some of the fun stories, especially of the Loyalist women who were exiled to my old hometown of Saint John. A poem of the day summed up the Loyalists' feelings: "Of all the vile countries that ever were known/In the frigid or torrid or temperate zone/From accounts I had there is not such another/It neither belongs to this world nor the other." Yeah, that's Saint John alright!
Predictably women went back to their confined lives after the war, despite having done some incredible and exciting things during the conflict. Maybe that's what makes the Revolution so much more fun to read about than the times of peace surrounding it.