Founding Mothers

Founding Mothers

by Cokie Roberts

Overview: From #1 New York Times bestselling author Cokie Roberts comes New York Times bestseller Founding Mothers, an intimate and illuminating look at the fervently patriotic and passionate women whose tireless pursuits on behalf of their families–and their country–proved just as crucial to the forging of a new nation as the rebellion that established it.

While much has been written about the men who signed the Declaration of Independence, battled the British, and framed the Constitution, the wives, mothers, sisters and daughters they left behind have been little noticed by history. #1 New York Times bestselling author Cokie Roberts brings us women who fought the Revolution as valiantly as the men, often defending their very doorsteps. Drawing upon personal correspondence, private journals, and even favoured recipes, Roberts reveals the often surprising stories of these fascinating women, bringing to life the everyday trials and extraordinary triumphs of individuals like Abigail Adams, Mercy Otis Warren, Deborah Read Franklin, Eliza Pinckney, Catherine Littlefield Green, Esther DeBerdt Reed and Martha Washington–proving that without our exemplary women, the new country might have never survived..

Deanna Boe (10/12/19): The recent death of Cokie Roberts made me want to read one of her books and this title intrigued me. Who else could do such outstanding job writing about women during the Revolutionary Period of our history? I always enjoyed listening to Cokie when she talked on the various Sunday morning talk shows. She could hold her own with any man who might be on the panel, and do it with grace and knowledge. She will be missed.

I am simply going to write exactly what she said at the end of her book when she is discussing the cast of characters she has mentioned.

“As this book is about the women who influenced the Founding Fathers, almost all of them are recognizable only because of the men in their lives. These are the mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, and friends of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence, fought in the Revolutionary War, attended the Continental Convention, and served in the new government. With the exception of the few women of the period who published their work, especially the highly influential Mercy Otis Warren, we wouldn’t know about most of the major players in this story were it not for the men they corresponded with."

The book goes on to list the men and then the women they are connected to and why. For instance: John Adams who was the husband of Abigail Smith Adams. I have always been amazed at the role Abigail played in her husband’s life and thus the “life” of the United States. She was an extremely talented woman who not only helped to make her husband, John, the man he was but also her son, John Quincy. She held the distinct honor of being the only woman in our history to be not only the wife of a president but also a mother, that is until Barbara Bush arrived on the scene. Interestingly enough, both are similar in the sense they were “feisty” women who played a large role in their families lives while their husband’s were off doing other things.

Another interesting “wife” was Deborah, whose “husband” was Benjamin Franklin. Why the quotation marks, because they never legally married, although they were considered married for 44 years! Sadly, Benjamin was a man who couldn’t sit still and he was off more than half of their years together, the last time he was gone for 10 years when she died. While away all those years, Benjamin was quite the ladies’ man and I am not sure how he would be viewed in this day and age. Deborah ran all their business interests and kept them financially afloat.

We learn how George Washington married a very rich widow while he was riddled with debts. No matter, she loved George and was faithfully by his side throughout the Revolutionary War. These names are ones we are familiar with, there are many others I had never heard about. Sadly our history books simply don’t have enough space to write about everyone important in our early history and women are left by the wayside.
Rating: *****

Sharon Weiss (05/31/18): Many of us are familiar with Cokie Roberts as a radio and TV political commentator. This book provides brief biographies of the nation's Founding Mothers (Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, and many more. We learn about the hardships imposed on these women to keep the home fires burning while their men were establishing the country. Women with no experience had to manage farms and businesses without any preparation. Some had to manage by themselves for years at a time while their husbands traveled to Europe to secure funding for the Revolution. Cokie's narrative sounds exactly like her radio and TV voice, so it is a very pleasant read.
Rating: *****

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