I grew up in a family of readers, it’s in my blood. One of my favorite teachers to this day is Mrs. Garrett; she taught me how to read so of course she’s my favorite. One summer my family went on driving vacation. After a long day in the car with all of my siblings (dvd players for the car had not been invented yet) my mother locked herself in the bathroom and took a hot bath. With nothing on hand to read, my mother grabbed a take-out menu left in the room. Now that’s what I call obsessed with reading!
This fall I took an early American history class and thoroughly enjoyed it. The professor obviously loved history and gave us all a greater understanding of the big picture, and how each event shaped future events. Over the Christmas break I had the opportunity to read two books by Cokie Roberts, Founding Mothers; the Women Who Raised Our Nation and Ladies of Liberty; the Women Who Shaped Our Nation. We all know the backgrounds and stories of the great men, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and John Adams, through letters, journals, and other correspondence the well known news correspondent Cokie Roberts gives us a unique insight to the women behind the great men. How the early years of our nation our formed through the eyes, ears, and with the help of these courageous women. Reading the nastiness of politics back then, well, frankly, things haven’t changed all that much…
Benjamin Franklins wife was one of the most interesting, while he partied in Europe, Deborah ran the successful businesses at home. When Franklin supported the very unpopular Stamp Act, rioters arrived to burn down the Franklin home. Deborah held the group off at gunpoint and saved her home. One of the women I’d love to meet is Dolly Madison; people were drawn to her and her parties sound fabulous! Dolly was known to spend $50 a day on food at the white house. Keep in mind, Roberts points out, a whole chicken was .40 cents so $50 seems quite exorbitant.
Another favorite is Louisa Adams, when upon learning that congress would not incorporate the orphan asylum, but that a long congressional session “left more in its wake than testy tempers” she asks for an explanation and was told “Congress having left many females in such difficulties as to make it probable they would beg our assistance.” Her response; “I recommended a petition to Congress next session for that great and moral body to establish a foundling institution and should certainly move that the two additional dollars a day which they have given themselves as an increase in pay may be appropriated as a fund toward the support of the institution.” I laughed out loud; she’s my kind of girl!
If you get a chance to read either of these books, I promise, you won’t regret it.