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Author:Rosemary Plakas, American history Curator, rarely Book and Special Collections department (retired)
Note: This guide is adjusted from the original essay in "American Women: A Library that Congress overview for the examine of Women's history and culture in the united States," 2001.
Last Updated: September 12, 2018
Abstract:Rosemary Plakas describes an early episode of American women's collective patriotism by concentrating on a 1780 broadside,"The Sentiments of one American Woman," thought to have actually been composed by Esther De Berdt Reed, an initial lady the Pennsylvania, to inspire females throughout the colonies to raise funds for basic George Washington's poorly provisioned troops.
In late may 1780, general George Washington reported to conference that serious and prolonged shortages that rations, clothing, and also pay had practically exhausted his troops. Immediate relief to be needed. Aspiring “to render themselves an ext really useful,” the ladies of Philadelphia, who had actually observed that government measures were generally slow and also inadequate, take it on this challenge.
Led by Esther De Berdt Reed (1747-1780), first lady the Pennsylvania, the ladies conveniently organized a systematic setup for canvassing the city and also suburbs. In mid-June, at the very least three dozen ladies went from home to house soliciting funds. The initiatives of this “resistless force” were so effective that in her July 4, 1780, letter come Washington, Esther Reed can report the the women had actually raised much more than $300,000 in record currency.
Subscription files for this pioneering charity drive, later on published by Reed's grandson, list 1,645 contributors through name and amount. Although many contributions to be in depreciated document currency, an ext than a third of the funds to be in specie. One pair of leather breeches to be donated. Both the countess de La Luzerne, mam of the French minister, and the marquise de Lafayette, v the marquis, added generously. The ladies' project received repeated praise in thePennsylvania Packet, where the quantity the women elevated was presented to rival the amount pledged by guys to establish a bank—and this subscriptions native the males were meant to be went back to them v interest.
Sentiments of an American Woman—probably created by Esther Reed—sets the end historical instances of wild female patriotism together inspiration and justification because that a speak to to politics action. Professing women's “love for the general public good” to be at the very least equal to the of men, the writer motivates women actively to make personal sacrifices to offer soldiers “extraordinary and also unexpected” presents of gratitude and also remembrance.
Esther Reed's patriotism is specifically noteworthy. She had come to America only a decade earlier as the bride the Joseph Reed. The problems of battle had efficiently separated she from she family and also friends in England. Furthermore, Esther undertook leadership of the women's relief initiatives in the weeks automatically following the birth in might of her 6th child, George Washington Reed, in ~ a time when most women would have limited their physical and also social activities severely.
On the verso that this broadsheet is a detailed arrangement for collecting and also forwarding funds. Virginia Congressman john Walker, in his June 13, 1780, letter come Governor thomas Jefferson, argues that that was attracted up by François, marquis de Barbé-Marbois, secretary come the French legation, who was known to have urged the women's relief activities. This broadsheet, which, follow to the June 13Pennsylvania Packet, was released on June 10, 1780, was without doubt the arrangement enclosed by numerous congressional delegates v their June post home.
With encouragement from Esther Reed and Martha Washington, comparable fund drives were arranged in Maryland, brand-new Jersey, and Virginia. As in Philadelphia, females in these 3 states adapted their fundraising initiatives to fulfill urbanbreathnyc.comal conditions. Prior to year's end, the outcomes of their cumulative efforts additionally were forwarded to basic Washington.
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Although the Philadelphia ladies had actually hoped the their contributions could be supplied to carry out “an particularly bounty” beyond the food and also clothing because of soldiers by the government, Washington insisted the it to be shirts the would administer the biggest comfort to his men. For this reason in late August, Esther Reed began purchasing linen. Its revolution into shirt unfortunately fell to various other hands, because that Esther Reed passed away suddenly on September 18, 1780, the a fever.
After an autumn of “general sickness” in the city, the Philadelphia women, wanting to stretch their funds as much as possible, began making the shirt themselves. ~ above December 26, 1780, buy it Franklin Bache forwarded an ext than two thousand shirts to Washington, v the wish that they “be worn with as much pleasure together they to be made.”
This early on episode that American women's cumulative patriotism can be traced through consulting the complying with sources found in the Library the Congress virtual Catalog: