OTIS WARREN (1728 – 1814)
Like most girls of her generation, Mercy Otis Warren
received no formal education during her childhood in
and she learned to read and write by occasionally sitting in on her brothers'
lessons and browsing through her uncle's library. In 1754 she married James
Warren, with whom she remained in
and had five sons.
As revolutionary sentiment intensified throughout
, Mercy Warren's family and home grew involved
in public affairs. Her father, husband, and brother all held civil service
positions with which they were becoming increasingly frustrated, and leading
opponents of royal policy, Sam and John Adams among them, gathered in the
Warrens' house in Plymouth to debate politics. Sympathizing with the call for
revolution, Mercy Warren composed political poetry and, though she had most
likely never seen a staged performance, she wrote dramas which satirized
A Jeffersonian believer in the potential for self-rule,
Mercy Warren provoked controversy with the publication of her Observations on the New Constitution,
in which she argued against ratification of the federalist constitution. Her
Jeffersonian perspective also infuses her three-volume History of the Rise, Progress, and Termination of
the American Revolution (in response to which John Adams,
believing he had been slighted, remarked that "history is not the
Providence of Ladies"). She died in
at the age of eighty-six.
Other portraits appear in:
Elizabeth F. Ellet, The
Women of the American Revolution (1848), v. 1, frontispiece.
Sarah J. Hale, ed., Woman’s
Record (1853), p. 546; also 1855 ed.
Evert A. and George L. Duyckinck,
eds., Cyclopaedia of American Literature (1855), vol.
1, p. 163.
The American Phrenological Journal, vol. 22 (Sept., 1855), p. 53.