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"An American Woman" Lends her Support to the Revolutionary War

Esther Reed launched the creation of the Ladies' Association of Philadelphia with the publication of a broadside "Sentiments of an American Woman." Keenly aware of the limited scope of earlier women's efforts and referring to women as "brave Americans," Reed urged women to "render themselves more really useful" to the Revolution. In an addendum to the letter, Reed and Sarah Franklin Bache offered a specific plan for how women could achieve this goal by collecting money to be sent to the wives of the Governor or General Washington.

On the commencement of actual war, the Women of America manifested a firm resolution to contribute as much as could depend on them, to the deliverance of their country. Animated by the purest patriotism, they are sensible of sorrow at this day, in not offering more than barren wishes for the success of so glorious a Revolution. They aspire to render themselves more really useful; and this sentiment is universal from the north to the south of the Thirteen United States. Our ambition is kindled by the same of those heroines of antiquity, who have rendered their sex illustrious, and have proved to the universe, that, if the weakness of our Constitution, if opinion and manners did not forbid us to march to glory by the same paths as the Men, we should at least equal, and sometimes surpass them in our love for the public good. I glory in all that which my sex has done great and commendable. I call to mind with enthusiasm and with admiration, all those acts of courage, of constancy and patriotism, which history has transmitted to us: The people favoured by Heaven, preserved from destruction by the virtues, the zeal and the resolution of Deborah, of Judith, of Esther! The fortitude of the mother of the Massachabees, in giving up her sons to die before her eyes: Rome saved from the fury of a victorious enemy by the efforts of Volumnia, and other Roman Ladies: So many famous sieges where the Women have been seen forgeting the weakness of their sex, building new walls, digging trenches with their feeble hands, furnishing arms to their defenders, they themselves darting the missile weapons on the enemy, resigning the ornaments of their apparel, and their fortune, to fill the public treasury, and to hasten the deliverance of their country . . .

. . . Shall we hesitate to wear a cloathing more simple; hair dressed less elegant, while at the price of this small privation, we shall deserve your benedictions. Who, amongst us, will not renounce with the highest pleasure, those vain ornaments, when-she shall consider that the valiant defenders of America will be able to draw some advantage from the money which she may have laid out in these; that they will be better defended from the rigours of the seasons, that after their painful toils . . . This is the offering of the Ladies. The time is arrived to display the same sentiments which animated us at the beginning of the Revolution, when we renounced the use of teas, however agreeable to our taste, rather than receive them from our persecutors . . . when our republican and laborious hands spun the flax, prepared the linen intended for the use of our soldiers; when exiles and fugitives we supported with courage all the evils which are the concomitants of war. . . .

Source | Sentiments of an American Woman, (Philadelphia: John Dunlap, 1780), Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress, http://asp6new.alexanderstreet.com/wasm/wasmrestricted/amrev/doc6.htm?
Creator | Esther Reed
Item Type | Pamphlet/Petition
Cite This document | Esther Reed, “"An American Woman" Lends her Support to the Revolutionary War,” HERB: Resources for Teachers, accessed September 16, 2019, https://herb.ashp.cuny.edu/items/show/1126.

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