Study Questions

Carol Berkin
Revolutionary Mothers: Women in the Struggle for America's Independence

How have women in the Revolution been remembered in the time since the war? How does the author want to present their roles?

Describe women's status in eighteenth-century colonial society. Describe their roles in the family, the household, and society. Was there any flexibility in what women might be expected to do?

How, why, and when did women get drawn into the politics of protest against Parliament and King George III? How did they participate in pressuring Britain to recognize colonial liberties? How did others view their activities?

How were women affected when war broke out? How did they react to war excitement among the men? In what ways were women's lives impacted by shortages and men's absence? In what ways did women suffer the violence and cruelty of war? In what ways did women fight back? How did women contribute to the Patriot cause? What was the Ladies Association, who organized it and why, and what did it accomplish?

Who were camp followers and what did they do? Why did they follow the armies? What was armies' opinion of them? How were camp followers affected by their experiences? Why did armies tolerate or even need them? How might they show heroism? What happened to women who tried to enlist as men? How did camp followers pose problems for armies? How did the armies deal with prostitutes? Describe the lives of officers' wives like Martha Washington.

Describe Martha Washington's experience of the war. How did the attitudes and actions of other generals' wives like Caty Greene contrast with Martha Washington's? Describe the experience of British and Hessian generals' wives, especially Baroness Frederika Riedesel. Why did British soldiers honor her on her way back to Britain?

What sorts of things happened to women who were Loyalists or were married to Loyalists? What were their options? How could they respond? What was the attitudes of Revolutionaries to Loyalist women and children? How might they be dangerous? Where did Loyalists flee to, and what influenced their choice of refuge? What did they think of their new homes?

Describe the varied situations of women in Indian tribes. What factors shaped which side an Indian tribe? Identify Molly Brant and Nancy Ward. What roles did they play in the Revolution? Who were Esther Montour and Mary Jemison and how did the war affect them? Describe how the war experiences of Indian and white women differed.

What was colonial life like for slaves? What opportunities did the war offer them? Identify the Earl of Dunmore and Sir Henry Clinton and explain their significance. How might escaped and freed slaves lose their freedom again? Where did fugitive slaves who escaped reenslavement end up going? What was their life in freedom like? What treatment did they get? Who was Phillis Wheatley? What options did the patriot cause offer slaves? How did the Revolution affect slavery in northern states? In southern states?

Who were Paul Revere, William Dawes, and Nathan Hale? Give examples of how women displayed heroism in support of the revolutionary cause.

What was the postwar debate on the woman question? How had attitudes toward women changed? What was the role of women to be in the new republic? For women, what did not change after the Revolution?