Description from Amazon:

The sister of firebrand James “the Patriot” Otis, who first declared that “taxation without representation is tyranny,” the highly educated Mercy Otis Warren was the mother of five sons and the wife of James Warren, Speaker of the Massachusetts House and paymaster general of the Continental Army. In 1775 patriotic Mrs. Warren served as her husband’s private secretary at the headquarters of the Massachusetts Committee of Safety and the Provincial Congress, where she heard news about the Revolution that few men—and virtually no women—enjoyed.

Mercy Otis Warren was a close friend of both John and Abigail Adams; she and Abigail shared their fears, comforted each other in their husbands’ absences, exchanged theories about child-rearing, and even ran a small importing business together. John Adams, who was impressed with Mrs. Warren’s acumen and literary abilities, praised her “real genius” and encouraged her to write satirical plays, poems, and a history of the American Revolution. After reading her three-volume History of the Rise, Progress and Termination of the American Revolution (1805), however, Adams exploded. In one of ten blistering letters, he accused her of having a “determined resolution” to denigrate his role in the Revolution. This eye-opening biography reveals their complex relationship—and why it unraveled.

The Muse of the Revolution captures Mrs. Warren’s bold interactions with other notables of American history, among them Sam Adams, Henry Knox, Benjamin Lincoln, Hannah Winthrop, Elbridge Gerry, and George and Martha Washington.

Mrs. Warren satirized both British and American Loyalists in her popular plays and poems and authored an influential critique of the U.S. Constitution whose principles were later incorporated into the Bill of Rights. Nancy Rubin Stuart reveals how Mrs. Warren’s provocative writing made her an exception among the largely voiceless women of the eighteenth century, and she persuasively argues for Mercy’s legacy to be appreciated by a new generation.

It’s been about two months since I finished this book and it has grown on me so much. Even though I initially strongly disliked it, I think it is one of the best books published this year for a few reasons.

1. It is the only available biography of Mercy Otis Warren and unlike the Adams, the Warren papers are not easily acquired by inquiring minds. This 300 something page book contains a surprising amount of information on Mercy and her family. I came to know them so well, despite my grinding teeth at the treatment of Abigail and John. But then I realized that my opinion simply isn’t the exact same as Stewart’s, and that’s what is absolutely amazing about history, that’s why I want to be an historian. I can have my own opinion, and I can support it with letters, diaries, newspapers, etc. That is what Stuart did, and I disagree with her interpretation of the sources. She uses the sources very well, and from what I can tell, she spent a long time analyzing them, which is most important.

2. The chapter on her history of the American Revolution is extremely well written. Infact, the second half of the book is truly extraordinary. It hooked me immeaditely, and I only wish the first half could have been as well written.

3. This book pushes the importance of Mercy Otis Warren, which is extremely lacking in most schools. I wrote an essay once on Mercy, and I truly feel that her contribution is as important as many founding fathers.

I’d like to write more on this topic, but I’m very busy (PSATs and PACTs this week!). I’m going to try to post more frequently- I’m going to see David McCullough, and there are a few VERY important dates (Hint: Adams) in October. I’ve also read a book that I really enjoyed, Good Enough by Paula Yoo. Maybe tomorrow? Hopefully.

Advertisements