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Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation    by Cokie Roberts order for
Founding Mothers
by Cokie Roberts
Order:  USA  Can
William Morrow, 2004 (2004)
Hardcover, Audio, CD

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* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Cokie Roberts reveals in Founding Mothers the stamina, determination, insight, and courage of patriotic women who played an important part in the 'forging' and 'raising' of a nation. From research into pamphlets, military records, private journals, personal letters and anecdotes, Roberts renders an account of historical events in Colonial America during the longest war in U.S. history.

Historical women mentioned include Abigail Adams, Martha Washington (who spent winters with her husband at his military bases and used her wealth to finance the revolution), Deborah Reed Franklin and Dolley Madison. Roberts gives credit to many other women who 'made their mark', including Eliza Lucas Pinckney, who at the tender age of sixteen successfully took charge of an ailing mother, a younger sister, and three plantations! Mercy Otis Warren was a politically-recognized voice-of-the-times through authorship of plays, poems, articles and pamphlets supporting the fight for freedom. Phillis, a seven-year old slave, began life in America with an elite Boston family. The Wheatleys recognized Phillis to be 'extraordinarily' gifted and entered her into study programs. Phillis Wheatley's poetry was published in Massachusetts newspapers and gained international acclaim.

Readers are apprised of taxation and rules of that era including the Stamp Act, Townshend Acts, Olive Branch Petition, Sugar Act, and Quartering Act (which required Americans to house and feed British troops). Roberts takes readers through and around the American Revolution, the establishment of political offices, to The Constitution and Bill of Rights, and an interesting fact - an official residence for vice-presidents was not established until 1974! I enjoyed Roberts' quips throughout the book, e.g after mentioning that Washington 'laid the cornerstone for the building that would become for generations the symbol of American democracy - the United States Capitol', the author adds 'Nobody knows where the cornerstone is - it's been lost somewhere under the Capitol!'

After his second-term as president, George Washington wrote, 'Nor would I rob the fairer sex of their share in the glory of a revolution so honorable to human nature, for indeed, I think you ladies are in the number of the best patriots America can boast.' Roberts calls this 'A salute from the Father of the Country to its Founding Mothers.' This record of their experiences is a reminder that even in times of war, men and women continue to marry, bear children, maintain households, fight for everyday survival, console the sick, and mourn the dead. I recommend Founding Mothers as an informative, pleasurable and palatable read.

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