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MERCY O. WARREN (1728 – 1814)

Abner D. Jones, ed., The Illustrated American Biography, vol. 3 (1855), p. 107.

MERCY OTIS WARREN (1728 – 1814)

Like most girls of her generation, Mercy Otis Warren received no formal education during her childhood in Barnstable , Massachusetts , 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 Massachusetts and had five sons.

As revolutionary sentiment intensified throughout New England , 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 Massachusetts 's royal government.

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 Plymouth 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.



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