Final Project

Final Project

Abigail Adams and Mercy Otis Warren Letters Timeline

Link to Abigail and Mercy Timeline

I have discovered the complexity of both Mercy Otis Warren and Abigail Adams through reading their letters. It began with politeness, almost small talk between the two but developed into a conversation of real substance. I would say the most surprising thing I found from the letters was how soft spoken Mercy was talking about the revolution and current oppression colonists were experiencing. In one of the first letters Mercy wrote to Abigail, she told her that she would “will write anything fearless of his eye.” It was a bold statement which lead me to believe that she would continue her criticisms within the letters. Mercy had work published which directly called out the British and the mistreatment of the colonies. She seemed to have an aggressive, and harsh response to her current responsive. Although Mercy had strong opinions, Abigail was the aggressor in creating the imagery of the pain she felt about the colonies. I think Abigail’s staunch beliefs were a product of her husband John Adams. John was deeply involved with state politics at the time. He witnessed laws of oppression and unjust be passed to the colonies. He was probably blamed for some of the injustice being seen by the average colonists. John’s frustrations were passed to Abigail through the letters they exchanged. The pair exchanged hundreds of letters while John was traveling. His negative words were probably frustrating to hear. Abigail, being stuck at home, looked to transfer some of that frustration on to Mercy.

I used Voyage to analyze popular words and sentences within each letter. The vocabulary and sentence structure was very similar between the two women. Both Abigail and Mercy were educated and able to properly convey their ideas. The popular words used by the two were also similar in most letters. Although there were some interesting shifts seem between letters. For example, in the first letter from Abigail, her most used words are blessings, happy, and little. It is an introductory letter so it makes sense that she would keep the message light and polite. In the response to Abigail, Mercy takes a more philosophical approach. Her most used words included think, mind, shall, and ask. In the letter, she interprets Abigail’s ideas and asks her to respond. Ambition was used four times in Abigail’s third letter which stuck out from the rest. Ambition is a trait which the Patriots relied on to receive support for their fight. It took ambition to take the leap of faith to go against Britain. Abigail’s third letter is the most passionate and well-spoken of all of them. She attacks oppression, the separated factions of men, and touches on figures like Alexander the Great.

The influence of Abigail and Mercy should not go understated. Mercy’s work in developing a message for Massachusetts is shown in her work. Even though Abigail may not have been a great writer like Mercy, she was still present in her town. In the letters, she speaks of town hall meetings that were held to discuss issues in the state. In conjunction with her husband John Adams, Abigail was a trusted voice in the community.  From analyzing the letters, it showed me that the discussion of the Revolution was a controversial issue. Both women were Patriots but did not seem to agree completely.


Nathan Borowski


The Legacy of the American Revolution

The American Revolution left a lasting legacy on the republic and is remembered and cherished by many Americans today. Many of the founding fathers of the revolution like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin are remembered and immortalized in monuments and dedications while many other revolutionaries who had a profound impact during the revolution are forgotten. Many of the members of the Warren household had an impact during the revolution but are scarcely remembered today.

James Otis Jr. was very active before and during the revolution, he argued against the British imposition of the Writs of Assistance in front of the colonial government, he wrote several political pamphlets during the war and was a member of the Stamp Act Congress, and yet the majority of the American public today does not adequately remember his legacy. James Otis Jr. is not often remembered among the important patriots of the revolution despite his impact and is not taught in most high school level curriculums. However, there is some effort to preserve his legacy. Most of his works are preserved in databases, including some in the Loyola Library databases like his work that outlined the rights of the colonies. Other small measures taken to preserve his legacy include his portrait in the Boston Tea Party Museum and a statue of him erected outside the Barnstable County Courthouse in Massachusetts. Besides these measures, James Otis Jr.’s legacy is largely left untold to the majority of the public. Other members of the Warren household receive even less attention for their actions during the revolution.

James Warren had a huge impact during the revolution; he served in the Massachusetts Congress and worked with the continental army as a paymaster general. Despite his role, again not much is done to preserve his legacy. He is not well known among the general public and no monuments or dedications preserve his name. His portrait is displayed in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, but this does nothing to teach about his legacy as a revolutionary.

Edward Winslow is another member of the Warren household that is largely forgotten. Since he was a British loyalist, no effort is made to remember his legacy as a pre-war politician and British officer during the war. However there is an effort by the New Brunswick Historical Society to preserve some of Winslow’s legacy. New Brunswick was Winslow’s home after the war, and the city has done well to preserve his legacy by at least preserving some of his written work and having several documents written about his impact.

The last member of the Warren household, Mercy Otis Warren, receives the most recognition among the Warren household members for her work as patriotic writer and she helped advise several key patriots during the revolution. Mercy was instrumental during the revolution, she wrote several anonymous pamphlets that stressed the need for the revolution and independence and had correspondence with leaders of the revolution such as John Adams, whom she offered advice to. After the war she became a much more established writer and even wrote political poems and plays including Poems, Dramatic and Miscellaneous in 1790. Mercy was a trailblazer for her time, many women were kept out of the political sphere, but she forced her way through and had a profound impact on the development of the revolution. Mercy is memorialized in several ways, but her legacy is often forgotten nonetheless. A statue of Mercy was built next to her son’s statue outside the Barnstable County Courthouse, she was also inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame and is included in several museums including the National Women’s History Museum and the Boston Tea Party Museum. Her works are mostly preserved in databases as well, including some in the Loyola Library Databases. Despite these efforts, it seems Mercy’s legacy is still not as preserved and remembered as much as it should be. She had a huge effect as a writer and adviser during the revolution and she faced a misogynistic society that usually excluded women from politics, making her contributions even more impressive.

The memory of the American Revolution has certainly changed over time. One way the legacy has changed is the way the American people view the war as a glorious moment that brought liberty and freedom for all. This is a misconception that many Americans believe. The American Revolution did not bring liberty for all, not even for half of the nation’s population. Only property-owning, white males received the full liberty and freedoms that were promised in the Constitution, while the rest of the population was denied full rights and the right to vote. Also nearly half the population consisted of enslaved African-Americans, and they were denied civil rights and basic human dignity for a century after the war had ended. In fact, the Constitution had specific statutes that gave power to slave-owners such as the 3/5ths Compromise. Most Americans today would remember the revolution by referencing the founding fathers and believing that it brought freedom and democracy to the world but this is not true. The founding fathers no doubt had a profound impact during the revolution but other revolutionaries such as Mercy Otis had a huge impact yet are not remembered at all. Also the revolution and Constitution brought a very rough form of democracy to the former colonies, and it did not extend rights to most of its population. By the time the Constitution was in effect after the revolution, the young republic set the stage to allow the continuation of slavery and the slave trade, as well as denying the right to vote to freedmen and women.



The War is Won, the Damage is Done, and the Constitution Sits on the Horizon

Blog No. 11

The Revolution is won, the Articles of Confederation have been written, failed, and replaced with the Constitution. Our Household of Mercy Otis Warren (with the exception of loyalist Edward Winslow) has seen success in the revolution, and is very satisfied with the separation from England. Since Winslow was a loyalist and James Otis, Jr. died before the revolution, I am basing most of this post after how Mercy and James Warren felt at the conclusion of it all.

First I am going to visit the feelings of Edward Winslow. Edward was a direct descendent from a man of the same name who was among those aboard the Mayflower. His family stayed in Plymouth, Massachusetts ever since. When the Revolution began to gain fervor the loyalist Winslow family was all but thrown out of Plymouth. Eventually Edward took asylum in Nova Scotia and made it his home. He thrived there and assisted other loyalists in settling there. So for Edward Winslow the answer is no, the Revolution did not turn out how he had wanted it to. [i]


Mercy had been an avid follower of the revolution and full-heartedly believed that separating from England was the right move. Being a writer she even scribed drafts of her famed History of the Rise, Progress, and Termination of the American Revolution as the events were unfolding. She organized the book so that the period between the Battle at Yorktown and the Drafting of the Constitution as a “Supplementary Chapter” (Chapter XXXI). However, Mercy was not fond of the new constitution. She thought that the government was too strong and susceptible to the creation of factions, which, as she thought, would eventually bring the new nations to its knees.[ii]

Her less famous husband James Warren shared may of her sentiments about the new nation and the direction it was headed. He was the Governor of the Peace in Massachusetts when the revolution was over. He was friends with John and Samuel Adams, and Mercy often carried written correspondence with Abigail, John’s wife.[iii]

It seems as though for the most part the revolution ended in the Warren’s favor. The only foreseeable problem is in the future after the ratification of the Constitution, and what a stronger central government will bring for this semi-famous couple.





What to do with Those Pesky Torries

Blog post 7

When the smoke cleared at Yorktown there were still thousands of loyalists living in what was soon to be a completely new nation. After the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1783, the next question was what to do with the remaining loyalists.

Throughout the entirety of the tensions leading to, throughout, and after the war made being a loyalist dangerous. Patriots harassed them relentlessly to the point of fleeing their homes. The patriots often took property, pillaged houses and destroyed other possessions of the loyalists, and that still was not the worst of it. Patriots captured individuals and poured hot tar over them and covered them in feathers and paraded throughout the streets.[i]

John Meints tar and feather

Enter a caption

John Meints, a German-American man who was tarred and feathered in 1919 with the rise of Anti-German sentiment in America. Although this took place almost 150 years after the American Revolution, this allows one to see the actual injury that this practice causes.[ii]

When the war was won those loyalists who had the means fled the rogue colony as quickly as possible, whether they had shipped themselves to England or ran north into present day Canada. Those that did go to England found that there was not room for them, as in there was no land and no room for them in society. These “English-Americans” found out that no matter how hard they had tried to be English in the New World, they were always behind. This translated when they took asylum in the Old World and no matter what they did to fit into society, they were always outcasts. Many of these people ended up returning to North America to live in Canada.

The loyalists who initially went Canada were welcomed with open arms and plots of 200 acres. The loyalists settled mostly in the present day provinces of Quebec and Nova Scotia. Quebec was an old French colony, and they still speak French to this day but English is also spoken there thanks to the heavy settlement of loyalists that arrived during this time.[iii]

Those who did not have the means to evacuate kept their heads low in fear of being attacked and harassed.[iv]  It was this fear throughout the event that potentially prevented more Americans flipping to the British side.

The bigger question is what is the new American government supposed to do with the remaining disloyal? Considering that there was no strong American Federal Government under the Articles of Confederation, the legislation was mostly up to the individual states. The most common law was for the loyalists to take an oath that declared that they renounced the Crown and pledged their allegiance to the Patriots, which many did oblige. Those who refused the oath in essence handed over all of their rights as citizens. Foreigners had more rights than loyalists who refused the oath.[v] Could this practice have been a precursor to the Pledge of Allegiance as we know it?










Observations on the New Constitution, and the Federal and State Conventions, by a Columbian Patriot

Mercy Otis Warren, as one of the most prolific writers throughout the revolutionary war period and beyond, was incredibly out spoken about the Constitution. Although she was not originally given credit for the work, she lays out many of the popular concerns that many citizens of Massachusetts had at the time of the ratifying convention at the beginning of 1788.

Massachusetts was the eighth state to ratify the constitution but it was a long hard month of


Political Cartoon Printed 10 days before ratification to encourage delegates and popular opinion to promote the cause

debate in 1788 that nearly concluded with the rejection of the constitution. In General the Eastern part of the state, characterized by its wealthy, influential coastal hubs, were in favor of the Federalist cause and, therefore, in favor of the new constitution. The central and western parts of the state, in general, were against the constitution for many reasons. Some saw it as a concentration of power in a federal government that took from the states who, at this time, could not afford to print any more money and alleviate economic hardships. Others were concerned that the government just catered too directly to the elites and would enable a ruling class to be established and oppress the multitudes. A compromise was made at the end of the convention in February to ratify in a close 187-168 vote.


Mercy looked at many negative effects she perceived may become realities in this new federal system. She saw a future of a few ruling oppressors and many lowly oppressed citizens. She stated 18 specific grievances that she had but concluded by saying there were many more and, essentially, stated that there was little upside to the document. Mercy came from an influential family and was married to the likewise influential James Warren. They were not poor western farmers. They had much more in common with the Eastern political elites than they did the rural area citizens and she even kept communication with many of the faces of the Federalist movement, like the Adams’.

Mercy’s Observations on the New Constitution, and the Federal and State Conventions thought that this document infringed upon every single ideal that was fought for


Published version of Mercy Warren’s writing on the Constitution

during the revolution. She disliked everything about the document. It was a moral argument more than it was one that considered her own social status. In her 18 enumerated grievances she listed problems such as, lack of term limits, lack of listed protections for free speech and the press (essentially asking for a Bill of Rights), mistrusted the close relationship between the executive and legislature, among many other structural problems. Mercy also took time to voice her distaste for the fact that the new Federal congress could dictate their own salaries and in general felt that they would be able to load their chauffeurs while robbing the states. Along with her very detailed and logical listing of problems with the government she invoked her poetic language skills she often utilized. She seem to be angered so much not only by the possible dangers of an inflated federal government but it was its proximity to the War of Independence that brought the emotion into the writing as she says,


“Animated with the firmest zeal for the interest of this country, the peace and union of the American States, and the freedom and happiness of a people who have made the most costly sacrifices in the cause of liberty,—who have braved the power of Britain, weathered the convulsions of war, and waded thro’ the blood of friends and foes to establish their independence and to support the freedom of the human mind; I cannot silently witness this degradation without calling on them, before they are compelled to blush at their own servitude…”

Mercy invokes many images and emotion in that one passage. She talks about the harsh realities of war, the maintenance of liberty, and even of American’s willingly entering slavery. Many of these words are blunt and capture perfectly how she, and many others feared this new constitution, often only in a way that they tried to hold onto the ideals and greatness established in the victory for independence.


Modified Cartoon after the successful ratification of the new U.S. Constitution

Blog #8: Post-war Economy

Once the war ended, many thought the issues and hardships they faced would go away, but the post-war economy in the newly formed United States was in ruins and negatively affected the Warren Household. The United States economy was stagnant at the end of the war, with very little currency circulating throughout the states. There was also a huge issue regarding growing debt and collectors. Many had debts that were supposed to be compensated after the war but once that had not occurred many were left without relief and were forced to go deep into debt to creditors and even lose personal possessions and properties. In response to the poor economic conditions among the different states, the newly formed government was forced to raise taxes, which initially made the situation much worse.

The Warren household, still living in Massachusetts during this time, was in the middle of most of the issues that arose from these economic issues. Shay’s Rebellion erupted in Massachusetts in response to poor economic condition and Shay and his followers felt they were being tyrannized and taxed unfairly by the new government. Daniel Shay and his followers attempted an armed uprising and planned to overthrow the government, but they were outmanned and the rebellion was put down before too serious of damage could be done, but the uprising caused significant upheaval in Massachusetts and had direct impact on the Constitution.

James Warren and Mercy Otis remained politically active during this time and were actually in the minority in their political views regarding the proposed constitution. They were known as Anti-federalists, and opposed many aspects of the proposed Constitution and the Articles of Confederation mainly due to issues over taxation. These Anti-federalists were the minority politically during this time and opposed many prominent American politicians that were known as Federalists such as Alexander Hamilton and John Adams.

Edward Winslow was forced to live in exile after the war. Following the British defeat, Edward was forced to leave the United States and moved to the new British colony in New Brunswick, Canada. Edward met varied success while he lived the rest of his life in New Brunswick, he had children and a career in a variety of governmental positions but still struggled financially as he and his family could never recover after the losses they sustained during the war.

Catherine Creighton Discussion

The story of Catherine Creighton has taught me that the loyalist experience was just as hard as any person living in the colonies. Catherine’s situation was much different from the Warren household as she was forced to move after her husband’s death. Unlike James Warren, she seemingly was never truly a member of any area. The Warren Household were Boston people from birth to death and able to grow roots in the area. Even if James had died in the war, Mercy Otis would have had an easier time surviving. Thomas Creighton’s death on the other hand shook the well-being of his family. The colonies were not safe during the revolution for anyone. Catherine had to rely on protection and financial aid from a government across an ocean.

The project has taught me the astounding distrust of the British towards Loyalists in the colonies. After reading through Commissioner Coke’s notes I see how unwilling the British were to help colonists. Loyalists were stuck in a dangerous situation from both sides. Admitting to a Patriot that you remained Loyal to the King might cause you to be beat or tarred and feathered. Coke was under the idea that if you had ever cross sides, you were the enemy. Most of the Loyalists were looking for protection. Not only from the Patriots but the war itself. The British would often use Loyalists as scapegoats for lost battles. They would say that the reason for the defeat was because not enough local Loyalists helped with the battle. The families who were looking for protection were also the ones called upon to put themselves in danger. Thomas Creighton put himself into danger and it ended up putting his wife through years of struggle.

I think a timeline is an excellent tool when constructing a narrative. Timelines give a memorable visual of a story. It allows for a story to be told without the excess fluff that written pieces may give. Constructive information is the most important because it can be applied and remembered. It can be argued that timelines do not provide enough information for a narrative to be interesting. In order for a timeline to be clear, there can’t be an abundance of information underneath each event. Readers would become disinterested if the timeline looks crowded with information.

I think the difficulty with the timeline created in the assignment was the resource we pulled the information from. The language in the document about Catherine Creighton was disconnected and worded uniquely because of the time it was written. It was disconnected because the story would jump around out of order. It was sometimes tough to follow the story when it would talk about different events right after another without much descriptions. The way the sentences are constructed is a lot different than what I am used to. Sentences were short and quick creating a more difficult time deciphering the message.

Creating a timeline was an easy process and the website worked well. The difficulty with the timeline was the media sources. You had to be careful with what sources you could put onto the events. I wanted to copy and paste a picture onto the spreadsheet so I could make sure it worked. Instead I was forced to place links which I was unsure of. I would have preferred the example sheet not to be as filled with information which I had to delete. I also had a problem making it so the date of the timeline would go to the 1700s. It ended up being stuck in 2011.

Creating a larger timeline would not be hard if I obtained my information from a different source. I think the hardest part of the timeline we created was pulling appropriate events and providing the description. I told my group to send me events from the Catherine Creighton document. They struggled in providing detail about some of the events. With a larger timeline, I think it would be time consuming to enter all of the information into the google sheet. Being able to find the appropriate media would also be difficult. A timeline should be used to tell a story or narrative. Putting things in chronological order is the best way to understand a story. Important events in a written narrative can be forgotten.

As previously stated the Otis-Warren household is incredibly active in the war, very notably early on since they live in Massachusetts. Mercy and James have gone down in


Letter from James Warren to Mercy Warren June 18th, 1775

history through their letters, to one another and to many of the major players of the Revolution.


In a very famous letter from James to Mercy he details the events and carnage surrounding the Battle at Bunker Hill. It is very interesting to see how incredibly candid James is with his wife. He tells her that multiple militia officers have died, he describes women and children fleeing Charlestown for the countryside, he even describes her brother, James Otis taking up arms and being shot in the hand. There were, however, two major points that stuck out most notably. James writes, “Among the first of which to our inexpressible Grief is my Friend Doctor Warren who was killd. it is supposed in the Lines on the Hill at Charlestown in a Manner more Glorious to himself than the fate of Wolf on the plains of Abraham.” In this excerpt James writes about the loss of his good friend and compares him to General Wolfe during the Battle of Quebec. It is interesting to see, even after the first couple battles of the revolution the standard of honorable death is a British General from a war merely 16 years previous.



Engraving from June 17th, 1775 depicting the death of Joseph Warren

James Warren would succeed Joseph Warren in the position of President in the Massachusetts Provisional Congress. This position is incredibly important as this is the acting governing body for the rebellious portion of the colony. This “unofficial” governing body started after the suspension of the Massachusetts assembly in 1774 and ended with the introduction of the Massachusetts state constitution in 1780. Once the British had to retreat from Boston in early 1776 this became the acting government for all of Massachusetts. James Warren proceeded Samuel Adams as President of the Body and was only the third president after John Hancock and the late Joseph Warren.

Edward Winslow, who is the Loyalist cousin to the Otis family, was also incredibly active at the onset of the Revolution. He was an active soldier in the British military and was at the Battle of Lexington and Concord. This is the first battle of the American Revolution and saw many more British deaths than Patriot deaths because of the use of guerrilla tactics. Winslow survived and was stationed in Massachusetts until the British retreat to Canada in March of 1776. He would be promoted a Master General while stationed in Halifax and would eventually serve time in New York which was the easiest place for his direct family to flee too outside of their Plymouth homes.


The Realities of War

Blog #4: Independence

Edward Winslow, was a strong loyalist to the British government and would be outraged by the colonial push for independence. He rose up to defend the new laws imposed by the British government and also defended the governor of Massachusetts when they were attempting to keep the peace. When the war for independence was initiated, Edward felt so passionately about the rule of the British government so he chose to fight in the British army against the colonials. Edward desired to keep British rule over the colonies and felt it was beneficial for all.

The rest of the Warren household had strong feelings about the move for independence from the British. Mercy Otis had a close connection with other patriots and was communicating with them about politics and the necessary moves the colonies needed to make, she was also busy writing poems and pamphlets about the various issues concerning the colonies and the necessity for self-governed colonies and the formation of a republic. In a time when women were seen as unfit to participate heavily in politics, Mercy Otis was being more active than men in producing literature about the move for independence and corresponding with other active patriots.

Mercy’s husband, James Warren, was also quite politically active and shared similar viewpoints as Mercy. Since the announcement of the Stamp Act, James has been speaking out against the harsh rule of the British government and would definitely desire independent colonies as he served within the colonial government himself. As a member of the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts, James most likely saw the congress as more than capable of governing themselves and he would want to eliminate the oppressive rule and unfair taxes of the British government. James was also a member of the Sons of Liberty, which shows his strong convictions about colonial independence.

James Otis, brother to Mercy Otis, also held similar beliefs to his sister. James was not nearly as outspoken as Mercy but he still felt similarly about the unfair rule of the British government over the colonies. James Otis felt the new Writs of Assistance imposed by the British government were illegal and an affront to their naturally held rights. As a lawyer, he represented American merchants attacking the Writs of Assistance. After his defense of the American merchants, James Otis became active in colonial politics and was a member of the Stamp Act congress, which fought the unfair Stamp Act.

The Warren household is full of members who believe in the idea of personal freedom and inalienable rights. As the British imposed harsher taxes and acts, the members of the Warren household would have become more discontent and active in the colonial political scene. They would have desired their personal freedom and the freedom of their government to rule over their people, as opposed to having distant British monarchs govern them.