Mercy Otis Warren

Mercy Otis Warren was a pamphleteer, and a playwright who attacked the British government. She also fit time into be a wife and a mother to five sons, while writing a three volume book published in 1805 called The Rise, Progress, and Termination of the American Revolution, based on her first hand knowledge of the subject. As a result of these accomplishments, Mercy Otis Warren was an influential figure during the American Revolution.

Mercy Otis Warren was born on September 25, 1728 in Barnstable, Massachusetts near Plymouth. Her parents were James Otis and Mary Allyne Otis, they lived on a farm at Barnstable where James prospered as a merchant, farmer, and an attorney for seventy-six years. James Otis also served as a judge of the court of common pleas for his country and a colonel in the militia. Mercy’s great-great grandfather came to America on board the Mayflower as a servant, and signed the Mayflower compact.

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James Jr., Joseph, Mary, Hannah, Elizabeth, and Samuel were the only seven plus herself out of her thirteen brothers and sisters that survived. The Otises saw to is that their sons were prepared for college, but the daughters were given no formal education. As the daughter of one of the leaders of the country, Mercy was exposed to frequent political discussions. At times Mercy was also allowed to sit in on her brothers lessons while they were being tutored by their uncle, the local minister, Reverend Russel. He let Mercy borrow books from his library. She absorbed Sir Walter Raleigh’s History of the World (1614) and other classics with zeal. From this she obtained a good education.
At the age of 16 Mercy was introduced to James Warren, who at the time was attending Harvard College. Their friendship evolved slowly into a courtship that lasted several years, until they got married on November 14, 1754. Mercy and James Warren had five sons, James in 1757, Winslow in1759, Charles in 1762, Henry in 1764, and George in 1766.

Even having five sons to take care of and having a very powerful husband Mercy Otis Warren still found quiet time to read and even write some poetry herself. “For thou are more than life, and if our fate should set life and my love at strife, how could I then forget I love thee more than life. – Love Prayer by Mercy Otis Warren. She was inspired by the surrounding countryside, and her favorite themes were drawn from nature.

In 1760’s since her husband and brother where getting involved in the conflict with Great Britain. Her brother James Otis opposed the Writs of Assistance and the Stamp Act. Mercy’s mind moved from poetry to politics. She held strong democratic convictions with men in her opinion that leaned in “aristocratical” direction. Mercy wrote her book based on the frequent meetings and discussions held at her house.

Even though Mercy Otis Warren had probably never seen a play preformed on stage, she wrote a play called Poem Dramatic and Miscellaneous in 1790. She also wrote two political satires, The Adulator in 1773 and The Group in 1775. Although her plays posses no remarkable literary merit, they are striking testimony to the imagination and skill of a women who never traveled farther away from Plymouth than to Boston and Providence. (Bibliography 2)
Later in the 1800’s both James and Mercy were accused by political conservation by having been sympathetic to Shay’s Rebellion of Western Massachusetts farmers, and even of having supported it. These accusations were probley and attempt to discredit her because of her spirited opposition to the ratification of the new constitution.

All through the years Mercy Otis Warren contributed her thoughts to the government, wrote plays, and political satires. During all her work she was still a great mother to five sons and a wife, which in my opinion is a great influential figure to look up to and follow in her footsteps. Her history is interesting for the expert knowledge , it reveals of public affairs and for its lively and penetrating commentary upon the leading figures of the day. (Bibliography 3)


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