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Essential Reading for American Patriots: 'History of the Rise, Progress, and Termination of the American Revolution'

 Liberty Fund has made available History of the Rise, Progress, and Termination of the American Revolution written by Mercy Otis Warren. According to the book's description, Mrs. Warren had a unique perspective on the historical events unfolding in her lifetime and was

"Steeped in the classical, republican tradition, Warren was a strong proponent of the American Revolution. She was also suspicious of the newly emerging commercial republic of the 1780s and hostile to the Constitution from an Anti-Federalist perspective, a position that gave her history some notoriety."

You can purchase Mrs. Warren's book here: History of the Rise, Progress, and Termination of the American Revolution - Liberty Fund.

Kirsten Anderson Birkhaug has written a review of the book which is posted at Law & Liberty. Here are some highlights from her review Enduring Memories of the American Revolution:

Alexis de Tocqueville metaphorized his thoughts on nations when he wrote that “the whole man is there in the cradle.” Though preceding him in life by nearly eighty years, no one could have agreed with this sentiment more than Mercy Otis Warren, the greatest historian of the American Revolution to have lived through it.

When Warren published her magnum opus, The History of the Rise, Progress, and Termination of the American Revolution, she was seventy-seven. Nearly thirty years had elapsed since the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Warren, already mature by the first rumblings of American independence, had carefully observed the development of sentiments, ideas, and actions that led to the formation of the new nation. In this work, she wove her observations into a narrative, offering a historical record and a trove of her political, social, and philosophical views. She maintained that the Revolution laid the blueprint for all potential futures for the United States—that the whole man was, in fact, there in the cradle. In reviewing Warren’s History, two things are incumbent: first, an assessment of the work itself and what the worlds of academia and public history might take from it, and second, an assessment of this particular edition of the text (in this case, the 1989 Liberty Fund two-volume edition, edited and with an introduction by Lester Cohen).

The first of these tasks is the more complicated, and as such comprises the bulk of this review. This complication hinges on the nature of this work. What is Warren’s History, exactly? What is its purpose, and separately, how might it be useful for us today? Warren purports to write a history of the American Revolution, but her work surely would not pass muster among today’s academic historians. She rarely cites her sources, and she is open with her personal and political viewpoints ranging from the predictable (any Otis or Warren, to a one, is written as a hero) to the inexplicable (her treatment of John Adams so wounded him that it irrevocably damaged their friendship). She sometimes gets her facts wrong and often editorializes. Cohen, in his introduction, heeds readers not to treat Warren anachronistically; she wrote a history using the methods of her day. In fact, that Warren gets as much right and cites as much as she does signals her remarkable memory and intellect. Still, even if a reader understands Warren as a historian of her time and not ours, the question remains: is Warren’s History useful if we cannot use it to reliably understand the facts of history as they occurred?

The answer, I think, is a resounding yes. This work continues to bear fruit when we move past Warren’s imperfect history to examine her meta-narrative, which centers not on history, but on memory, history’s much less stable and much more powerful sister. Her story is, at its core, about the way truth is forgotten and recovered, and the mission of her work is to preserve truth from being forgotten once again. Warren seeks not to record a list of disjointed events, but to preserve the sentiments and principles that gave those events significance. 
(Source: Enduring Memories of the American Revolution – (lawliberty.org)

I think there is much we can learn from historical work such as this one by Mercy Otis Warren. It gives an insight into the thoughts of one who witnessed the unfolding of events that led to our independence and the formation of one of the most powerful nations on earth. I also want to point out that Mrs. Warren wrote from a Christian viewpoint. It was quite plain to me that she was a knowledgable, orthodox believer in Christ Jesus and one who had been taught Scripture and Biblical principles from an early age.

The Woman Whose Words Inflamed the American Revolution posted at Smithsonian Magazine gives us this information of her education as an inquisitive youth and avid reader:

The younger sister of James Otis, Boston’s leading advocate for colonists’ rights in the 1760s, Mercy was a bookish girl in a time when many girls never obtained basic literacy. Her father, James Sr., encouraged her curiosity. She demanded to join in when her brothers read aloud and took the place of her second-oldest brother during lessons with their uncle, a local minister. While James was a student at Harvard, he’d come home and tell her about his studies, especially the political theories of John Locke. She read voraciously: Shakespeare and Milton, Greek and Roman literature, Moliere’s plays in translation, Sir Walter Raleigh’s History of the World. At age 14, she met her future husband, James Warren, at her brother’s Harvard graduation. They married in 1754 at ages 26 and 28, respectively. While raising five children, she began writing private poems about family and nature.

Bronze sculpture of Mercy Otis Warren stands in front of Barnstable County Courthouse, Massachusetts. (Wikimedia Commons)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dear Lord, 

Thank you for preserving the work and memory of Mercy Otis Warren who appears to have been a genuine student of the Bible and follower of Christ Jesus. I pray You will continue to bless her memory and name, and that others will learn our national history from her book. I also pray You will use her life and work as an example for other women who also love their country and want to preserve our liberties which were so hardily won.

In Lord Jesus Name I pray, amen.

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