Founding mothers The women who raised our nation

Cokie Roberts

Book - 2004

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New York : William Morrow 2004.
1st ed
Physical Description
359 p. : ill
Includes bibliographical references and index.
Main Author
Cokie Roberts (-)
Review by Booklist Review

Political correspondent Roberts has deep roots in American political families--her mother was a U.S. congresswoman from Louisiana, and an ancestor, William Claiborne, was a U.S. congressman from Tennessee in the 1790s. Here she offers a look at the women--mostly wives and mothers--who supported the men credited with creating the U.S. Lamenting the dearth of history about these women, Roberts primarily draws on letters and diaries to document their significant contributions. Among her subjects is Deborah Read Franklin, who was virtually abandoned for 16 of the last 17 years of her marriage to Benjamin, who held a post in England and left her to manage the home and businesses. She was forced to protect their home from a mob angry at her husband's position on the Stamp Act. Also among those profiled are Martha Washington, who used her considerable wealth to help finance the revolution; Abigail Adams, whose famous remark to her husband,ohn, to remember the ladies was thought to be a reference to women's rights; and Phyllis Wheatley, a former slave who earned the admiration of George Washington with her poetry. Roberts offers a much-needed look at the unheralded sacrifices and heroism of colonial women. --Vanessa Bush Copyright 2004 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission. Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

ABC News political commentator and NPR news analyst Roberts didn't intend this as a general history of women's lives in early America-she just wanted to collect some great "stories of the women who influenced the Founding Fathers." For while we know the names of at least some of these women (Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, Eliza Pinckney), we know little about their roles in the Revolutionary War, the writing of the Constitution, or the politics of our early republic. In rough chronological order, Roberts introduces a variety of women, mostly wives, sisters or mothers of key men, exploring how they used their wit, wealth or connections to influence the men who made policy. As high-profile players married into each other's families, as wives died in childbirth and husbands remarried, it seems as if early America-or at least its upper crust-was indeed a very small world. Roberts's style is delightfully intimate and confiding: on the debate over Mrs. Benedict Arnold's infamy, she proclaims, "Peggy was in it from the beginning." Roberts also has an ear for juicy quotes; she recounts Aaron Burr's mother, Esther, bemoaning that when talking to a man with "mean thoughts of women," her tongue "hangs pretty loose," so she "talked him quite silent." In addition to telling wonderful stories, Roberts also presents a very readable, serviceable account of politics-male and female-in early America. If only our standard history textbooks were written with such flair! 7 illus. not seen by PW. Agent, Bob Barnett. (On sale Apr. 13) Forecast: If booksellers position Roberts's book as a history of early America-and not as a women's studies text-it could have greater appeal. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved Review by Library Journal Review

When most people think about those who helped fight for the independence of and create the government of the United States, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin come to mind. They rarely mention Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, or Eliza Pinckney. However, these and many other women played a significant role, including raising money for the troops, lobbying their spouses to fight for liberty and independence, and eventually hosting events where members of government could meet and discuss issues in a civilized manner. Roberts provides details on the lives and activities of these women and how they helped the country to survive. Though the book is fascinating, the author detracts from the work with her reading; she makes asides that do not appear to fit within the story and is overly strident as if she demands that we listen to her and believe what she is telling us or else. Another narrator might have been more effective. However, Founding Mothers will find a home in most public and academic libraries, especially those with strong women's studies and early American history collections.-Danna Bell-Russel, Library of Congress (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up-Roberts herself enthusiastically narrates these stories of America's earliest heroines with lively humor and a great sense of the important role these women played in history. Profiles of Abigail Adams, Dolley Madison, Deborah Franklin, and Martha Washington, among others, show how their steadfast commitment to their newly formed country allowed the work of burgeoning democracy to take place. Encourage students to discover more about America's stalwart women of history by researching online at the National First Ladies' Library ( (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.