We are living in a political tsunami of words, aren’t we? I have begun to wonder what some of the candidates for public office actually know of our history and the heritage that is ours.
I turned off the News one night and opened a book a friend had just given me. I was immediately gripped by the stories that Cokie Roberts relates in FOUDNING MOTHERS.
Her research has yielded priceless tales of the women who were the mothers, wives and daughters of our Founding Fathers, women who made it possible for this country to come into being.
I met Abigail Adams writing to tell John: “Remember the ladies” as he worked on the Constitution. Would that he and his cohorts had! I met Martha Washington wintering with her husband and the troops during that frightful time at Valley Forge. She was nurse, tailor and general encourager to them at an incredibly low moment in a bogged-down war.
I was astonished to read of Eliza Pinckney, age 16, being left to run three plantations in South Carolina. Not content with that task, she decided to launch a new crop, indigo. Jeans lovers, you are forever in the debt of this enterprising teenager.
While Benjamin Franklin was playing the diplomat in the capitals of a Europe not warmly disposed toward this new nation, his wife Deborah was running his postal system and minding his real estate to generate the funds that kept him busy at his task. She did this for sixteen years until he came home to die.
I read of women who nursed their children, kept the farms going and always had one eye on the advancing British armies. They fed passing visitors, longed for news from the absent and were politically astute.
I finished with a deep appreciation of the sacrifices of both men and women that gave us a nation against unbelievable odds. If all candidates for public office had to pass a test on the history of our origins, they might speak more carefully. Public service was not an ego trip then. It was a call to self-denial, heard by all.
I am so grateful to have met each of them.