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Warren, Mercy Otis (1728–1814) - History of the American Revolution

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Mercy Otis Warren was born in Barnstable, Massachusetts, to James Otis, a lawyer, farmer, merchant, and judge, and Mary (Allyne) Otis. While the Otis sons were educated, the daughters received no formal education. On November 14, 1754, Mercy married James Warren of Plymouth, also a merchant and farmer. In 1759 she began writing poems and eventually political satire as the Revolutionary War became imminent. Despite personal tragedies (her brother James died from being struck by lightning; a son, James, returned from the Revolution mentally and physically impaired; another son, Charles, died of consumption; and her husband’s political career failed), Warren continued to write and in the late 1770s began her most famous work, the three-volume History of the Rise, Progress and Termination of the American Revolution. Interspersed with Biographical, Political and Moral Observations , which was published in 1805. The book has been valuable because it contains personal opinions of people and events to whom she had access. Otis’s friendship with John Adams was hurt by accusations in the book; while the two were eventually reconciled in 1812, Adams insisted that he and his wife, Abigail, regretted encouraging Warren to write her book, saying, “History is not the Province of the Ladies.” Mercy Otis Warren died in Plymouth, Massachusetts, on October 19, 1814.

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