On July 4th, we'll be celebrating the independence of a country that more than 300 million people call home with noisy explosions, smoke-filled cook outs, a fair amount of John Phillips Sousa, and a tornado of red, white, and blue. We'll be celebrating the founding fathers who signed our Declaration of Independence, claiming our sovereignty from England, and instigating a war in which we reigned victorious. But behind every strong man, there's an even stronger woman.
So where are our founding mothers?
Well, they're out there, and they're not all from 1776, but this Fourth of July I'm going to celebrate these boss ass women and you should too.
The driving force behind John Adams, president of the United States after George Washington, was his wife, Abigail. Abigail Adams was his rock; when John Adams was away practicing law or working to free America, Abigail raised her family, managed a farm and household finances, and held a quasi-official government position in which she was responsible for finding and exposing British-sympathizing women. Furthermore she was a huge women's rights activist, calling for equal public education for girls. Through her letters to her husband, she became his top advisor and heavily influenced many of his policies to the point that she was called Mrs. President.
|Image via the New York Times|
Deborah Sampson is basically your American Mulan. In May of 1781, Sampson arrived at West Point in New York dressed like a man and was quickly issued an army uniform by the revolutionaries. She fought in the war for two years until she suffered a sword injury to the head and a musket ball injury to the thigh. In order to prevent the doctor from discovering her true sex, she did a lil DIY surgery to remove the musket ball from her leg. Unfortunately, she became feverish from an infection and during treatment it was discovered that she was a woman. Regardless, she was discharged from the army with honor, given a soldier's pension and a plot of land, and her widow was given pay for being the spouse of a soldier.
|Image via sherooftheweek.com|
Despite being a slave, Phillis Wheatley was one of the best known poets towards the end of the 18th century. Even though she grew up a slave, she grew up in a kind household that provided her with an education. On top of being the first African American woman and second American woman to publish a book, Wheatley's poetry fomented support for the revolutionary cause, even gaining George Washington's notice. Her poetry shaped the future abolitionist movement as it exposed white Americans to the intelligence of blacks as well as to their point of view.
|Image via the Poetry Foundation|
Ben Franklin was a pretty awesome dude, but his wife was even cooler. At the beginning of Benjamin Franklin's political career, Deborah managed their stationary shop as well as their general store, selling items such as soap and tea. Ben was named the Post Master General of the colonies, but since he was on frequent leave of absence to fulfill his political duties, the colonies really had a post mistress in the form of Deborah, who ran the post office system. If it wasn't for her holding up the fort on the home and business front, Ben Franklin wouldn't have had the capacity to have been as powerful and as vocal of a figure in the American Revolution as he was.
|Image via revolutionary-war.net|