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Glory, Passion, and Principle

The Story of Eight Remarkable Women at the Core of the American Revolution
By Melissa Lukeman Bohrer

Reading Group Guide

    A Reading Group Guide to
    Glory, Passion, and Principle
    The Story of Eight Remarkable Women at the Core of the American Revolution
    Melissa Lukeman Bohrer
    I am a woman in whom historical events had stimulated to observation a mind that had not yielded to the assertion that all political attentions lay out of the road of female life.
    -- Mercy Otis Warren
    * * *
    Who are the women behind the men who helped found our nation? How did they support, influence, or contradict the ideals of their husbands, fathers, brothers, and brethren?
    How did the social, political, and intellectual developments of the time enable them to challenge the American notions of equality? And how did the American Revolution set the stage for an eventual "declaration of independence" among women?
    Glory, Passion, and Principle tells the story of eight remarkable women who fought for freedom -- for their country and themselves -- at all costs. Whether advising such men as John Adams and Thomas Jefferson in political theory (Abigail Adams), using their pens as swords (Phillis Wheatley, Mercy Otis Warren), acting as military spies (Sybil Ludington, Lydia Darragh), or going to battle (Molly Pitcher, Deborah Sampson, Nancy Ward), these women broke free of the limitations imposed upon them, much as our forefathers did by resisting British rule upon American soil...and laying the groundwork for the United States as we know it today.
    QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
    1. What are the common themes that fasten and bind these eight women together through American history? How have their collective concerns, intentions, and aspirations shaped modern American society?
    2. Abigail Adams, the wife of patriot and future president John Adams, is arguably the most recognizable woman from revolutionary America. Discuss Abigail's alternate roles in her husband's life as loving wife, political confidante, and devil's advocate. 3. Abigail Adams' plea to her husband to "remember the ladies" reflected her views that men should not have "absolute power over [their] wives." Still, Abigail privately mourned the loss of the simple, domestic life she never had. In what ways did Abigail's devotion to her family and her furious quest for independence come into conflict?
    4. How did Phillis Wheatley, in defending authorship over her poems, defend the ability of every black person to think, speak, and write? How did she use her writing as a means of escape as well as a cry for emancipation? And how did Mercy Otis Warren?
    5. What similarities did Phillis Wheatley and Nancy Ward, the brave and diplomatic leader of the Cherokee tribe, share as female representatives for an oppressed people?
    6. As a Quaker, Lydia Darragh believed that all human beings -- regardless of race, gender, or creed -- were entitled to personal, political, and religious freedom. Discuss the tenets of Quaker dogma as they relate to goals of the American colonists.
    7. Many stories have emerged of different women fighting on the battlefields during the Revolutionary War. How did the story of "Molly Pitcher" become a legend? How did Molly as a character become a symbol of female strength and ability? In what ways do Sybil Ludington, Deborah Sampson, and Nancy Ward embody the Molly Pitcher myth?
    8. Life in a Cherokee tribe was supremely matriarchal, with Cherokee women having more rights than either their American or European sister. How did Nanye'hi, soon to become "Nancy Ward" after marrying a white man, exercise her power of authority over her tribe? How did her marriage to Bryant Ward solidify the affinity she would have for the white man...and help bridge the tension between the Cherokees and the colonists?

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