Tag Archives: The Sunshine for Women

Mercy Otis Warren: Herstory 9

BettyJean Downing Kling from http://library.thinkquest.org/TQ0312848/mowarren.htm

Mercy Otis Warren (1728 – 1814)Who was the friend of Abigail Adams who fostered political agitation with her satirical plays and then a three-volume history of the American revolution in 1805?

Mercy Otis Warren was born in 1728 into a family of all boys, and there were many of them. She was born in Massachusetts. Mercy became a Patriot writer, and she wrote plays, poems and lots of other writings that supported independence. She used her writing to display her ideas. Her ideas and writings convinced many people in Massachusetts to become Patriots. Of all the people writing to support the patriotic cause, Mercy Otis Warren was the only woman who published plays, books, and poetry.

When she was a small girl, Mercy learned to express her feelings and ideas through reading, writing, and discussing politics. In 1743, she attended the Harvard Commencement and met James Warren. In November, 1754, she married James Warren and went to live in the Warren family estate at Eel River, Plymouth, Mass. She continued her studies with her brother James as he prepared at home for his master’s degree.

She and her husband would read the newspaper together. She had a thin, slender complexion. She had dark brown hair and her favorite color was blue. She loved wearing blue dresses and bonnets with lace edges. In 1757, they moved to Winslow house in Plymouth, Massachusetts. On October 18 that year, her son James was born. She had a son named Winslow who was born on March 24, 1759. Her son Charles was born on April 14, 1762.

In 1765, James Warren was elected to Massachusetts House of Representatives. Their son George was born a year later, in 1766. Between March 26 and April 23, 1772, selections from The Adulateur, written by Mercy Otis Warren, appeared in The Massachusetts Spy. Mercy Otis Warren wrote to her friend Abigail Adams about being treated as inferior because they were women.

Mercy Otis Warren continued to write and publish, and in 1790, her collection of Poems: Dramatic and Miscellaneous was published in Boston. In 1805, her History of the… American Revolution was published in Boston. From July through August,1807, ten letters from John Adams and six letters from Mercy were published concerning her treatment of him in the history book. This book contained sharp comments about John Adams. That’s why there was a separation of friendship with the Adamses that lasted until 1812.

Two of her plays insulted the Loyalists. She said that Britain’s laws and taxes were unfair and that families in the colonies couldn’t pay for expensive British goods. She also said that Britain was too far away to understand the colonists’ rights and needs. For this reason alone, the colonists would be better off alone with their own independence and freedom. She did not like the fact that Britain would not let women participate in politics. She strongly believed that women would have more rights if the colonies had their independence. Mercy also believed that women should have the right to vote.

  • Her plays included:
    The Adulateur, a five-act play, published in 1773
    The Defeat, excerpts from a play, published 1773
    The Group, a three-act play, published in 1775
    The Blockheads, a three-act play, published  in 1776, shortly after the British withdrew from Boston
    The Motley Assembly, a farce, published in 1779.

Mercy Otis Warren died on October 19, 1814, in Winslow house in Plymouth, Massachusetts. She strongly believed in independence, liberty, and in the power of the written word.

Read an essay about Mercy Otis Warren by Professor Nina Baym.
The Sunshine for Women site has a biography of Mercy Otis Warren.
Read more about Mercy Otis Warren at the Massachusetts Historical Website.
For a more complete list of her writings, click here.