Memorial Day in American History

Memorial Day, the day we remember the fallen military soldiers who served in the United States Armed Forces.

For most the significance of Memorial Day is the official beginning of summer. For students attending nine month schools they are closer to a three month break from classes and teachers, families plan for the big summer vacation, kids prepare for summer camp or off to visit a relative for the next few months. This was the time in my life the stress as a working mother set in, what will I do with the kids while I’m still working through the summer?

Once known as Decoration Day by a group of Southern ladies and schoolchildren to commemorate the fallen Union soldiers after the American Civil War. First reference as Memorial Day wasn’t until 1882; it became more common after World War II making the day and the name official on June 28, 1968 when Congress passed the Uniform Holiday Bill making the last Monday in May the official three day federal holiday.

The very first Memorial Day happened on May 26, 1783 as A Great Jubilee Day in North Stratford Connecticut (now Trumbull). The celebration was designated to gather at the meeting house at one o’clock for prayers and singing led by Reverend James Beebe. The North Stratford Militia performed military maneuvers and cannons were discharged as a significance of the end of the American Revolution.

But… the American Revolution didn’t officially end until September 3, 1783 with the signing of the Treaty of Paris. How could they have a jubilee in May? I know it got me too. You have to realize the Treaty of Paris was originated as a provisional treaty on November 20, 1782. It took a little time for the news to reach all those in battle in the United States. The skirmishes continued through the winter and summer until the official signing on September 3, 1783.

The overall celebration continues as the original agenda for the day; gathering of family and friends for feasting, celebrating, remembering, services, prayers and a parade. A jubilee celebration for America and rejoice in the pride of the Red, White, and Blue and all who battled in War.

Happy Memorial Day!

Teresa L. Watts

author of remarkable women in US History.

WordPress Tags: Memorial,AmericanHistory,Forces,Southern,ladies,Union,Civil,Uniform,Jubilee,NorthStratford,Connecticut,Trumbull,Militia,Revolution,news,America,pride,White,Blue,women

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Posted in Masque of the Revolution

Women’s History, Women’s Suffrage Movement; Anna Howard Shaw

“as a little girl preaching alone in the forest…to a congregation of listening trees.”

                                                                              ~Anna Howard Shaw

 What a profound statement. These are the words that a twenty-three year old Anna Howard Shaw spoke to Dr. Peck when he invited her to give her first sermon. The success of this led her down the path to preaching. In 1880, Shaw became the first woman in America to be ordained in the Methodist Protestant Church.

Though Shaw known best for her role in the Woman’s Suffrage Movement achieved many successful accomplishments, but her path was as many women who became the first in anything in history was a long hard struggle.

As a little girl Anna recalled the vivid memory of her mothers reaction upon arriving in the newly opened West. Her father an established businessman in New England wanted the freedom and the land given to those willing to settle in the west. Sending his wife and children on to their new home in Michigan, a young Anna remembered the excitement her mother had thinking she would enjoy a luxurious Victorian style farmhouse like the one she had while living in the established East. The sad reality remained in Anna’s memory upon the family arriving at the log cabin. Her mother found the bare rugged one room cabin nestled deep in a wooded area, forty miles from anything. As she opened the door and stepped inside she dropped to her knees and sobbed. The stricken emotion remained with her mother forever. The children plowed fields, planted crops and worked from sun up to sun down. Anna often took laborious jobs like digging ditches and wells just to help out financially. Anna blamed her father for his selfish act and the emotional suffering of her mother. Anna took a teaching job to help supplement the financial burden of the family at age fifteen.

Through her years of teaching Anna wanted nothing more than to go to college. Her family frowned on her chosen career path of preaching and refused any financial help for an education. She was given an option, give up preaching or go to college. Not willing to give in she went hungry and cold living in attics and working to pay her own way through Albion College.

Women were given options to do only one thing in their life. They didn’t have the luxury of variety or seeking a self supported life. After graduating from Albion College Anna went on to Boston University and in 1886 received her M.D.. During her college years she became an advocate on political rights for women, a very outspoken one at that.

She rallied, debated, lectured and lobbied for women’s rights. Two years after graduating from Boston University she attended her first meeting of the International Council of Women and met Susan B. Anthony who encourage her to join the National Women’s Suffrage Association (NAWSA). Holding a key position in the association she encouraged the merge between NAWSA and the AWSA (American Women’s Suffrage Association). The merging of the two associations created a unified suffrage movement. 

Rev. Dr. Anna Howard Shaw died July 2,1919 at the age of seventy-two. A few months before congress ratified the Nineteenth Amendment to the US Constitution.

She never married and portrayed with great tenacity that women did have a variety of options and experience a self sufficient life. Upon her death she was a Methodist Minister, a medical doctor and a suffragist.

Teresa L. Watts

Historical Author discovering amazing women in US History, one gal a time.

 

 

Posted in Masque of the Revolution | Tagged , , , ,

March is Women’s History Month

We read and revel about the women in history who conquered barriers, spoke out loud on their beliefs, fought enemies with grace and intelligence everyday. I bet they weren’t sitting on the couch thinking about what they were going to do. We never read about that. Because it didn’t exist, couches were not part of the furniture in homes of the early days. If you sat on the “couch” all day, first you would be naked, there would be no food, no water, no candles to light so you could see, or blankets to cover you from the cold seeping through the walls. Before outsourced manufacturing they had to make every single item needed to survive. Think about taking a week to do one load of laundry…

It seems in today’s world you only hear about women doing such above matters AFTER they have hit the bottom. This disturbs me. Why do we have to hit the bottom in order to get to the top? To appreciate what we have, to challenge our inner strength? Are A-type personalities the only ones who achieve success without hitting the bottom? That could be a debatable question that will never be answered. Hard work and determination is how one achieves success. The cliché although notable came from all women we admire in history. Life was hard in the 1600s, it took the determination to survive. The New World in 1620, there was not a top to be at. Everyone started at the bottom and built the foundations we take for granted today. The bottom in the New World was death. Not something to strive for to find out how to succeed.

Through education we become empowered to succeed. You have to hold a degree in order to gain recognition for success. If you don’t, no one will take you as credible or knowledgeable in what your talking about. So how did all the noted women in history before the 1800s become so successful? Before 1818 women were not allowed to attend college, they were not allowed to achieve degrees.Yet so many of them were well educated. How did that happen? Because they didn’t accept the answer no? Well it’s not that they’re just women, they’re human. Humans have the nature ability to learn. Its the instinct for survival that exists in everyone.

Women continue to make remarkable achievements. Women getting degrees continues to rise close to 60% since the 1970s. It’s no longer an issue for women to apply for college and get a college degree. Now it’s more the question, why don’t you have one? With the creation of our online society, availability for a degree is attainable for anyone.

We have to give thanks to a few notable women; Deborah Sampson (my number one gal) who was the first woman to fight in a war and receive a pension for doing so. Lucy Stone who in 1847 was one of the first women in the United States to receive a college degree. Abigail Adams for her countless achievements to gain recognition and famously known for her letter writing to the congressional powers that be to “not forget about the ladies”. The list is large and never ending and that is empowerment to achieve my own success.

I don’t write about women in history because I think we’re better than men and I have some sort of statement to make. I write about women in history for their determination and dedication to themselves. The inner strength that exists in all of us. Before salaries and lifestyle status were what made you successful, women strived for success to satisfy themselves in knowing they have what it takes to live. To live a life fulfilled with self satisfaction that we can and do well in all that we strive for.

I continue to research and write about women in history out of curiosity and admiration. The curiosity in how they could gain education then and the admiration for them today when they had no readily available resources. They created them for us. They set the foundation for the path women walk on each and everyday.

Celebrate not only the month of March, but everyday of your life.

Teresa L. Watts

Author discovering women in US History, one gal at a time.

Posted in Masque of the Revolution

George Washington The Man Who Didn’t Forget About the Ladies

How do I write about women in history and have a fascination about the man of history? It goes to facts leading to George Washington. In general text and non-fiction books and documents on the American Revolution George Washington was the curator of all that happened.

Authors who research the American Revolution feel they confirm what has already been written and claim to be experts on the subject. In usual fashion they forget about the ladies. George Washington has many stories and they all lead to his great leadership abilities, intelligence and driven ambition. The man holds the honorary title as the father of our country. If it wasn’t for Washington what might have happened? Would we be the independent country of America? Would we have the freedom today if it weren’t for him? It is quite mind boggling to try and work through all of the what ifs, it’s best to say Thank You and praise him for all that he did.

You cannot give credit to one person, he obviously didn’t do it alone. A soldier of war, a prisoner of war, a surveyor, a business owner, a land owner, a man of dignity and honor, he had all the requirements to lead the army for the patriots. His record of accomplishments surpassed all at the time and was unanimously voted to be the leader of the Continental Army and fight for the independence of America.

The one myth of Washington I relish squashing whenever I can, is that he hated women. HOGWASH! The independence of America didn’t happen by men alone. The ladies played a very methodical part in American history and we must give thanks to George Washington for realizing our abilities. During these days several women followed their husbands, known as camp followers, and were just as close to the frontline action. It is noted that Washington hated this, the women were a burden and a distraction to the men and the task at hand. Well, maybe at first then he figured out the women cooked, aided the wounded, and kept up camps. He got over it.

In the days of the American Revolution we didn’t have highly protected bases, store front offices where you could go in and get the sales pitch of a lifetime to join. If you could hold a musket, had the honor to fight for the Americans you went to the closest tavern or walked directly to a base camp and spoke to the Captain in charge and signed up. They didn’t ask if you were married, gay or born in the United States. They didn’t even ask if you were male or female. Four hundred and five women dressed and disguised as manly as possible signed up as foot soldiers for the Continental Army. These women were also discovered and hanged for treason and fraudulent acts against their country. There were no medical exams or boot camp you went to first. You signed a piece of paper, handed a bounty (money for signing up),a uniform and a musket and told where to go and who to report to. From there you fought in the war on the frontlines.

George Washington also figured out women who elected to stay and protect the home could be utilized as well. They became messengers for the Washington founded Culper Spy Ring. This would be the original name for what we now know as the CIA. In the time of the war if the British happened to be marching down your road and come upon your home they took up camp in your house. You had one of two options: you could go ballistic on them, try and stand alone and fight, then they would steal all your worldly possessions, possibly kill you and burn your house down. OR you could welcome them, feed them, serve them tea and let them squat on your property for a few days. In the meantime eavesdrop on their conversations and make notes and secretly send them onto the American Army via signals or messages dropped in noted locations. Many smart women chose the latter and were known as secret operatives for the Culper Spy Ring. What many people don’t know is the discovery of Benedict Arnold’s treason was founded and foiled by a woman. Known only as Agent 355 (Culper code for Lady). She reported directly to General Washington, and was the facilitator in the arrest of Major John André and played a key part in the counterintelligence of Benedict Arnold.

One notable gal who made it past all the discovery was none other than my gal Deborah Sampson. The clever hiding of her secret astonishes people to this day. The untold and undocumented details of her enlistment, in my opinion, are quite clear. She was appointed by those who held power in high circles. A close friendship with Paul Revere, who was close to those higher circles was really a messenger in the Revolution. Yes, most notably known for the “midnight ride” but how he came to know this information was his place as the “middle man”. He received messages from the Culper Spy Ring and relayed them to the army. Deborah Sampson was placed as a foot soldier in the 4th Massachusetts Regiment for the Continental Army, the regiment was a scouting party, and served a noted eighteen months of a three year term in the military service.  She didn’t complete the three year term because the war ended, it’s that simple. In my findings, she was placed by Paul Revere and reported to generals and a few times even to George Washington himself as a secretive operative. She greatly admired the commander and had a tremendous amount of respect for his intelligence and dedication to the independence of our country. A driven individual herself she knew who to befriend and where she needed to be to do it.

Today is February 22, 2012.  In 1732, two hundred and eighty years ago today George Washington was born. He served as a leader of not only an army but as the first and most notable president of the United States. We recognize him and many other leaders this month with President’s Day. George Washington didn’t taut his ‘celebrity’ status and in his last will and testament signed George Washington, a citizen of the United States. He died on December 14th of 1799 at Mount Vernon his home he shared with our nations first lady Martha Washington, a notable and driven woman in her own right. 

 

Teresa L. Watts

Author of women in US History

Posted in Masque of the Revolution | 2 Comments

Another Gutsy Woman in History Takes a Flight of Faith

Every morning I go through today in history from the http://history.com website. One of my favorite sites when I’m researching. I share the information on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Facebook and Google+ I don’t get to many shares or responses, but on Twitter I get several compliments that read “thank you, enjoy reading your daily history post.” I really appreciate hearing those comments and I thank you if you are reading this post today.

The first post I share is always from The Revolutionary War, every day in history something happened. Sunday through Saturday. The Revolution was the most notable time in history, each and every detail was a first in American history. The trinkets of information I discover from the era intrigue me on a daily basis. You won’t learn this type of information in a text book and I think that’s a shame.

Of course, the ladies were doing equally important deeds on a daily basis. Today I jump forward to 1935 and write about Amelia.

In 1935, Amelia Earhart Putnam was the first PERSON to fly solo from Hawaii to California. It took two days! With commercial airlines a way of transportation today, people don’t realize how incredible this event was in history. Air flight goes back centuries. Until the Wright brothers successfully flew their glider 622 feet in 1902 did air flight really begin it’s advancement in technology.

image

Thirty-three years prior with no computers, robots, Microsoft or Apple fancy software, two men and nothing more than a pencil, paper, a creative collaboration and good old fashioned sweat and hard labor (you know when you physically create something that is not computer generated) helped advance technology for humans, particularly one gal to fly in the air over land and sea to get somewhere. Now for a woman to do this – well it was phenomenal.

image Her arrival on January 13, 1935 in Oakland California. image

On July 2,1937 on a flight around the world Amelia Earhart along with her passenger navigator Fred Noonan vanished and were never found. I don’t like to dwell on the death of the women I write about, I prefer to write about the outstanding accomplishments they conquered while they were living. They lived and they lived the way they wanted to.

As Amelia said it in a letter she wrote to her husband George, the letter he was to read in case she never came home from one of her record breaking flights:

“I want to do it because I want to do it. Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others.” ~ Amelia Earhart

Teresa L. Watts,

 Author discovering amazing women in US History, one gal at a time

Posted in Research writing | Tagged , | 4 Comments

For the Ladies

Gannett Family Grave site Deborah Sampson a.k.a. Robert Shurtlieff

Rock Ridge Cemetery, Sharon Massachusetts November 2010

Me at Deborah Sampson’s Grave site, Sharon Massachusetts November 2010.

I recently found out a male resident in Sharon Massachusetts has taken a keen interest in Deborah Sampson and is writing her story. GREAT! I wish him much success.

During my research of women in US History, Deborah is one of the most fascinating women I discovered. But… men writing about women has always rang too technical to me. Which always takes me back to conversations I have with women about men and history. “It’s done their way and they forget about the ladies.” “That’s why it’s called HIS-story” I giggle a little. The dividing line between men and women always gives me a little giggle, I can’t help it.

As a woman I research between the lines. It’s what we do, we are known for beating the facts to death right? (sarcasm). Fact are facts and behind every factual situation is an emotion the compelled someone to do it. The emotional intent on doing what we do. How women think and the desires behind our actions is one thing that men will not EVER be able to grasp – I don’t care how many debates I will have with anyone on this topic. In turn,I don’t think like a man and don’t pretend I know how to or want to for that matter.

Women of our history are just as responsible for the founding of our country as the men were. They accomplished successful deeds, just as the men did. Women didn’t sit back and watch what the men were doing, they were working and working hard. Men and women worked as a team. They were each others most trusted companions and together they worked and labored on every task that was needed to survive and create a new life. As most want to say they didn’t have a choice. True. However, men and women weren’t any different then as they are today in the process required to accomplish what needs to be done.

Women were not allowed to be educated, even though most women in history were very well educated?  Women were not allowed to have an opinion even though most men listened to their women’s advice. Abigail Adams for one, Eleanor Roosevelt another.

Deborah Sampson fought in the Revolutionary War as male soldier Robert Shurtlieff, a foot soldier with the 4th Massachusetts Regiment. She was felled by a musket ball to her left thigh and slashed by a sabre across her forehead. After the war she went to her Aunt and Uncle Waters farm, met and married Benjamin Gannett and bore three children, adopted a daughter Patience. Petitioned and received veteran’s pay as a soldier of the war as Deborah Gannett. Went on the lecture circuit and spoke about her time in the war and performed military drills dressed as a soldier, and was paid for it. Retired to a quiet life in Sharon Massachusetts and was known in town as the “Old Soldier”. Died on April 29,1827 in the upstairs bedroom of the home she shared with her husband, son and daughter in-law.

All of this information and more are documented facts readily available to anyone who would like to know more about Deborah Sampson Gannett.

For this author, my interest in the remarkable life of Deborah Sampson Gannett and all the women I will write about in US History and all that they accomplished and the REASONS behind their actions are but one question.

Why?

Teresa L. Watts, Author of the remarkable women in US History, telling THEIR stories, their way.

Posted in Masque of the Revolution

Jane Austen December 16, 1775

Although I write about women in US History I can’t overlook the influence of Jane Austen. Her stories continue to influence readers centuries later. The author is still referred to as one of the great writers of all time.

Jane Austen was quiet and kept to herself most of the time. One of eight children she was unhappy about her family relocating to Bath in 1801 she retreated deeper into her world of words. Her father’s passing in 1805 and another move to the home of one of her brothers Jane continued to pen her stories.

Publishing romance with a comical twist on 18th Century society received moderate reviews in her time. It wasn’t until the 1940s that she became a noted English author.

Jane Austen never married and died at the young age of 42 on July 18, 1817. Her nephew published her Memoir in 1869.

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/jane-austens-birthday

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jane_Austen

Teresa L. Watts

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