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Part of the eighteenth century that is overlooked is the impact the time had on women. With men away at war, women struggled with the day-to-day chores and taking care of the family. They had watched over the property the men had left behind. The growing economy that took place during this time had a lot to do with women’s arduous work; they worked as hard as the men, if not harder, for only a fraction of the benefit. Women were the silent heroes of the eighteenth century during the American Revolution; without them, the men at war would have had nothing to come back to.
Women were left to fend for themselves during this alarming crisis of war. Face-to-face with British soldiers, women had to quickly learn bravery and how to compose themselves to protect their families. “Though they did not know what hindered them from firing on us, I did; it was the guardian of the widow and the orphan who took us into his safekeeping and preserved us from danger; oh that I may keep humble and be thankful for this as other favors vouchsafed to my little flock.
” (Margaret Morris, 1776)
Margaret Hill Morris was a Quaker widow with four children. She resided in New Jersey and being smack in the middle of the battleground, she decided the best decision for her and her family would be to remain neutral in the war. She provided food, solace, and medical care for the soldiers that passed by her.
Without her quick thinking, she may not have survived to pass on the tale with the help of her wartime journal. Molly Gutridge was another woman who became famous for her writing after the American Revolution. She also chose to remain neutral for the war; she was anti-war and wanted a united community. She is quoted in her poetry saying, “For sin is all the cause of this, We must not take it then amiss, Want it for our polluted tongues This cruel war would ne’er begin.” (Gutridge, 1779). This poetry was one of the first pieces to come forward from the American Revolution that was not written by a wealthy woman and gave a new perspective on the war and the struggles that women went through.
What these two women had in common was their want for peace, despite having separate reasons. Morris feared for her children and her community and would do anything to protect them. Gutridge was a strong, outspoken woman for her time and just did not want a place in the war. Other accounts from women did not come off so fearless. Anne Rawle, a daughter of a loyalist family, goes on in her journal about the events transpiring around her. “A mob surrounded it, broke the shutters and the glass of the windows, and were coming in, none but forlorn women here. We for a time listened for their attacks in fear and trembling till, finding them grow more loud and violent, not knowing what to do, we ran into the yard.” (Rawle, 1781). She goes on to describe what she claims to be the most alarming event of her life. These women’s reports of the American revolution gave us an important perspective in a time when it was mostly men that were portrayed in history and media.
The battlefield around these women represents not only the physical stress around them but the tormenting responsibilities they were left with during this war. The revolutionary war began closing the gap between men and women and their social differences. Despite having a long way to go, the roles that women were forced to pick up gave the ma start in the equality of genders.
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