Saturday, November 30, 2019

Friday, November 29, 2019

Quaker Inventor Sybilla Righton Masters (died in 1720) & Patents for Women

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Sybilla Masters (d. Aug. 23, 1720), inventor, sometimes called Sybella, was the 2nd daughter & 2nd of 7 children of William & Sara Murrell Righton, Quakers, of Burlington in the colony of West New Jersey. William, the son of William Righton & Sybella Strike, married Sarah Murrell, the daughter of Thomas Murrell, in Bermuda. The date & place of their daughter Sybilla's birth are unknown. She may have been born in Bermuda, before her parents sailed to the banks of the Delaware River. Her name first appeared in court records as a witness on behalf of her father, a mariner & merchant. Of her early life nothing is known; probably she spent it on her father’s plantation called Bermuda in Burlington Township on the banks of the Delaware.

At some time between 1693 & 1696, she was married to Thomas Masters (d. 1723), a prosperous Quaker merchant who had come to Philadelphia in 1685, or earlier from Bermuda. In 1702, Masters built a “stately” house on the Philadelphia riverfront, described by James Logan as “the most substantial fabric in the town.” He invested the profits of his overseas trade in lands in the Northern Liberties of Philadelphia & had a “plantation,” or country house, there called Green Spring. A prominent figure in political as well as economic life, he was successively alderman of Philadelphia, mayor (1707-08), & provincial councilor (1720-23). Meanwhile Sybilla reared 4 children, Sarah, Mary (Mercy?), Thomas & William, & exercised her special talent for mechanical invention.

On June 24, 1712, she notified her Quaker meeting, that she intended to go to London & obtained a certificate of good standing to carry with her. Her object was to secure patents for two of her inventions. At that time, the process for grinding corn employed two large stones, called millstones. But Masters had seen American Indian women pounding corn with wooden mallets. So she invented a mill that used hammers to make cornmeal. That was much easier than finding, and hauling, and using huge millstones.


Masters wanted a patent for her invention, so that she alone would have the sole authority to make or sell her invention. But patents were not issued in Pennsylvania. So, in 1712, Masters set sail for Great Britain to obtain a patent. In London, Masters discovered that the British government did not have a regular governmental process for giving patents. So Masters applied for a patent from King George I.

King George took his own good time responding to her request. In the meantime, the practical Masters worked on another idea. She used straw & palmetto leaves to weave into hats, bonnets, & chair covers. She opened a shop in London to sell the goods. She then applied for a patent for her weaving method.

After 3 years, King George finally awarded a patent for milling corn. But he didn’t give the patent to Sybilla. Patents were not given to women. Instead, the king gave it to her husband, Thomas, for “a new invention found out by Sybilla, his wife.” Later, King George gave Thomas a patent for Sybilla’s weaving method.

On Nov. 25, 1715, letters patent (No. 401) were granted under the Privy Seal to Thomas Masters for “the sole use & benefit of ‘a new invention found out by Sybilla, his wife, for cleaning & curing the Indian Corn growing in the several colonies in America.’” As illustrated in the patent, this was a device for pulverizing maize by a stamping, rather than the usual grinding, process. It consisted of a long wooden cylinder with projections designed to trip two series of stamps or heavy pestles, which dropped into two continuous rows of mortars, whereby kernel corn was reduced to meal. Power could be supplied either by a water wheel or by horses. There was also a series of inclined trays, or shallow bins, presumably for curing, or drying, the meal.


Under the name of “Tuscarora Rice,” the corn meal so produced & prepared was offered for sale in Philadelphia as a cure for consumption. It has been called “the first American patent medicine,” but actually it was simply a food product, not unlike hominy. It was presumably for the purpose of producing this meal on a large scale by Sybilla’s patented method that Tomas Masters in 1714 acquired “the Governor’s mill,” a hitherto unprofitable mill built for William Penn in 1701 on Cohocksink Creek, not far from Green Spring. Sales, however, proved disappointing, & the mill was later converted to other purposes.


The Masters had hoped to export their newly processed cornmeal to England. But it didn’t sell. The British did not like the taste. However, folks in the colonies did like the taste. In fact, to this day, many people still like that cornmeal. They call it grits.

While in England, on Feb. 18, 1716, Sybilla Masters secured -again in her husband’s name- a second patent (No. 403), this one for “a new way of working & staining in straw, & the plat & leaf of the palmetto tree, & covering & adorning hats & bonnets in such a manner as was never before done or practiced in England or any of our plantations.” Unfortunately, neither drawing nor explanation accompanied this patent. Having been granted a monopoly on the importation of the palmetto leaf from the West Indies, she opened a shop in London at the sign of “the West India Hat & Bonnet, against Catherine-Street in the Strand.” Here, according to the London Gazette for Mar. 18, 1716, she sold hats & bonnets at prices from one shilling upwards, as well as “dressing & child-bed baskets, & matting made of the same West India for chairs, stools, & other beautiful furniture for the apartments of persons of quality, etc.”

By May 25, 1716, the determined inventor was back in Philadelphia. On July 15, 1717, the provincial council, on Thomas Masters’ petition, granted permission for the recording & publishing of her patents in Pennsylvania. She died, presumably in Philadelphia, in 1720. Whether or not she was , as she may have been, the first female American inventor, the bare facts of her ingenuity & enterprise in devising & patenting her two inventions & marketing their products entitle her to a place in American industrial & economic history & warrant Deborah Logan's accolade, inscribed on Sybilla Masters’ sole surviving letter: “A notable American woman.”

Sybilla Masters was a woman out of her time and far from typical. She was the first person from the American colonies to receive a patent from the King of England. She was not only the first American woman to receive a patent; she was also the last until 1793 -- until America had its own patent office. In 1793 a Mrs. Samuel Slater patented a new way of spinning cotton thread. Her husband built the famous Slater's Mill in Rhode Island. We still remember the mill, but we've largely forgotten the inventor and her patent, which served the mill so well.

If female ingenuity was anonymous in 18th-century America, it did only a little better in the 19th century. Mary Kies earned a patent--in her own name--in 1809 for a way of weaving straw that was put to use in the New England hat manufacturing trade. Martha Coston perfected her husband's idea for colored signal flares after his early death. Coston not only patented the flare system, used by the navy in the Civil War, but also sold the rights to the government for $20,000 & earned a contract to manufacture the flares. Margaret Knight's many inventions included a machine for making square-bottomed paper bags; her original patent is dated November 15, 1870. Still, by 1910, inventions by women accounted for less than 1% of all patents issued in the United States.

In 1888, the patent office listed every woman's patent it'd issued. The list showed only 52 before 1860. From then until the report was issued, that number grew to nearly 3000. That was a sure sign women were seeing themselves in new terms, but it was still a small fraction of the total patents.

Extracts From:
Scientific American, v 65 (ns), no 5, p 71-2, 1 August 1891
Fossil Patents By T. Graham Gribble
A much later but very quaint patent is that of Dame Sybilla Masters, of Philadelphia, for corn shelling and preserving. She writes in German text, hard to decipher and very antiquated for that period.  It is granted by King George the 1st, and the official entry in Roman text is as follows: "Letters patent to Thomas Masters, of Pennsylvania, Planter, his Execrs., Amrs. and Assignees, of the sole Vse and Benefit of 'A new Invention found out by Sybilla, his wife, for cleaning and curing the Indian Corn, growing in the several Colonies of America, within England, Wales, and Town of Berwick upon Tweed, and the Colonies of America.'"
The two upper illustrations [refers to patent drawing] show the cleaning and the lower the curing. The top view represents the sheller, worked by animal power, probably a donkey (Asinus vulgaris). The gearing and shaft are of wood, and a reciprocating motion is produced by a series of detents upon a revolving cylinder something after the manner of a musical box.
It is to be feared that Dame Sybilla's invention did not attain to as wide a field of application as was covered by the letters patent. It is more than probable that the obtuse agriculturist continued to shell corn sitting on a pine plank with a spade edge to scrape them off by, in spite of the "paines and industrie" of the dame.
This posting based, in part, on information from Notable American Women edited by Edward T James, Janet Wilson James, Paul S Boyer, The Belknap Press of Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. 1971

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Portrait of 18C American Woman

1771 John Singleton Copley 1738-1815 Mrs. Thomas Gage (Margaret Kemble) Timken Museum

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Biography - Georgia's Indian Leader Mary Musgrove c 1700-1763 & Her Unfortunate Choice of Husbands

Mary Musgrove (c 1700-1763), Indian leader in colonial Georgia, was the child of a Creek mother & an English trader. Originally named Coosaponakeesa, she was born at Coweta town, then on the Ocmulgee River but later moved to the Chattahoochee River. Her father, whose name is unknown, was an English trader; her mother is said to have been the sister of Old Brim, the so-called “Emperor of the Creeks.” When she was about seven, Mary was taken to Ponpon, South Carolina, by her father about 1710. In her own words, she was "there baptized, educated, and bred up in the principles of Christianity." Mary returned to Coweta in 1715, after the Yamasees revolt was put down. At the end of the Yamassee War in 1716, she returned to the Indian country west of the Savannah River.

Shortly, John Musgrove, a prominent South Carolinian, was sent by his government to deal with the Creeks. His son John Musgrove II, who accompanied him, met the young Indian girl & married her. She now assumed the name Mary Musgrove; & although she was married twice afterward, she is best known throughout history under that name.
John Musgrove & his wife Mary were among several traders who lived to the south & west of the Savannah River before 1733

The couple returned to South Carolina about 1722; but by 1732, they were back among the Creeks, running a trading station near a Yamacraw village on the western bluffs of the Savannah River. Mary & John established their trading post at Yamacraw Bluff in 1732, and Savannah was founded on this site a year later. Here they distributed merchandise primarily secured through the imported goods of Charleston merchants & received from the Indians some 1200 pounds of deerskins annually. They also had “a very good cow-pen & plantation,” where they raised their food crops.

When James Oglethorpe landed in 1733, to found the colony of Georgia, Mary Musgrove was among the first to greet him. Her personality, her facility in English, & her key position as a trader all recommended her to Oglethorpe as an aid in his Indian diplomacy. The Yamacraws were less than pleased with the founding of Savannah much less Georgia. The ink was not yet dry on the treaty establishing the Savannah River as the limit of white expansion to the south and west.

Oglethorpe made Mary his interpreter & emissary to the Creeks, treating her with “great Esteem.” It was largely owing to Mary Musgrove’s influence that the Creeks remained friendly to the English, serving throughout the imperial wars of the 18th-century as a buffer between the Southern English colonies & the Spanish in Florida. She became one of the most important figures in Georgia’s colonial history.
James Oglethorpe depicted with Yamacraw Chief Tomochichi. Mary appears between them.

Her husband John Musgrove served as interpreter for John Wesley and Tomo-Chichi. John Wesley was a frequent visitor to Mary's plantation on the Savannah. Mary owned the fairest and broadest acres in Georgia and supplied the struggling colonists with meat, bread & liquor.

At Oglethorpe’s request, the Musgroves set up Mount Venture, a trading station at the forks of the Altamaha River, to serve a a listening post for threats from Spanish Florida. Unfortunately Mary's beloved husband John Musgrove died there in 1739, & his widow promptly married one Jacob Matthews, captain of the 20 rangers stationed at the post, a “lusty fellow,” quarrelsome, & given to drink, who had formerly been her indentured servant.

Public opinion of Matthews was mixed. William Stephens migrated from England to Savannah in 1737, to serve as secretary of Trustee Georgia. Stephens wrote of Jacob Matthews: "On his Master's Death he found Means to get into the Saddle in his Stead, fitly qualified to verify the old Proverb of a Beggar on Horseback; soon learning to dress in gay Cloaths, which intitled him to be a Companion with other fine Folks of those Days, . . . . He was flattered to believe himself a Man of great Significance, and told, that he would be to blame not to exert himself, and let the World know what his Power was with the Indians; wherefore he might expect the Trust would have a singular Regard to that, and be careful to oblige him in all he should expect. Thus prepared, what may we not expect from him? To pass over many of his late Exploits a few of which I have touch'd on in some of my preceding Notes; he seems now to be grown ripe for exemplifying to what Uses he means to employ that Influence he thinks he has over those neighboring Indians, who by half Dozens or more at a Time, have daily of late been flocking about his House in Town, where they continually get drunk with Rum, and go roaring and yelling about the Streets, as well at Nights as Days, to the Terror of some, but the Disturbance and common Annoyance of everybody."

However, a neighbor, Robert Williams later testified: "I was an Inhabitant in this Province and lived at the next Plantation to Mr. Jacob Mathews on the River Savannah . . . he had cleared and planted a large Tract of Land with English Wheat, Indian Corn, Pease, and Potatoes; and very believe he had a larger Crop than any Planter raised by the Labour of White Hands within the said County And I further declare that I have often heard the said Mathews say, that he never received from the Trustees, or Persons in Power at Savannah on their Behalf, Any Bounty or Reward for the said produce. . . ."

From Mount Venture, Mary rallied the Creeks to aid the Georgians in their was with Spain-the War of Jenkins’ Ear 1739-44. Bands of Creek warriors accompanied Oglethorpe in his unsuccessful attack on St. Augustine in 1740, & her brother was killed in that attempt. She returned to Savannah in 1742, because of her husband’s ill health. Upon her departure, Spanish Indians destroyed Mount Venture & the settlement that had grown up around it.

Apparently Jacob worked hard but he also set himself up as the leader of the malcontents in Georgia and chief critic of the authorities to the annoyance of William Stephens. Stephens declared in his Journal for 1740 that it was useless "to foul more Paper in tracing Jacob Matthews through his notorious Debauches; and after his spending whole Nights in that Way, reeling home by the Light of the Morning, with his Banditti about him." Jacob Matthews died on May 8, 1742

Oglethorpe left the colony of Georgia in 1743, upon his departure giving Mary 200 pounds & a diamond ring from his finger. She continued her services to the colony, working successfully during the War of the Austrian Succession to counter French influence among the Creeks. Mrs Musgrove also persuaded her native relatives to retain their English allegiance, after their brief flirtation with Spain during the Creek-Cherokee war in 1747-48.

About 3 years after the death of her 2nd husband, Mary remarried. Her new husband would come to foment a scheme which took advantage both of the Creeks & of the colony government. Her new husband was an opportunistic fortune seeker named Thomas Bosomworth.

Bosomworth had an "Ambition of being an Author" of essays on religion. According to Stephens, "his sprightly Temper, added to a little Share of classical Learning, makes him soar" high. Bosomworth wrote a long essay on the "Glory & Lustre" of charity, to the Georgia Trustees in 1742, attempting to show that the Bethesda Orphans Asylum was being perverted. Bosomworth also wrote poems & lyrics but took offense at the accusation of having "Ambitions to be an Author." He wrote the Trustees, "I am sorry to find that my good intentions are so far perverted as to be imputed to an Ambition of appearing as an Author."

Failing as a religious essayist, Bosomworth next felt a call to preach sailing to England for Holy Orders in March 1743. He was appointed minister to Georgia for a term of 3 years on July 4th, and returned to Georgia on December 2nd. However, Bosomworth soon tired of preaching & apparently of Mary. He sailed back to England in 1745, without notice or providing for the church in Savannah declaring that he would not return. The Georgia Trustees ignored the complaints he attempted to bring to their attention, but Bosomworth decided to return to Georgia the following year.

He was, however, no longer the minister. One report was that he cast "aside his Sacredotals;" but another had it that the Trustees had torn them from him. His successor, the Reverend Mr. Zouberbuhler, discovered that Bosomworth had stripped the parsonage of all furniture, & he was forced to live in an unfurnished house for some time.

Dissatisfied with past unsuccessful financial ventures, Bosomworth laid plans for an ambitious venture into the cattle business. Mary first secured from the Creeks a grant of the 3 coastal islands of St. Catherines, Ossabaw, & Sapelo, together with a tract of land near Savannah which had been reserved to the Creeks, by treaty with the English, for hunting grounds. Chief Malatchee entered into this agreement on the "4th day of ye Windy Moon called ye month of January by ye English" in 1747, in return for promises of cloth, ammunition, & cattle.

After Bosomworth had stocked St. Catherines with cattle bought on credit in South Carolina, Mary made large claims to the colonial & English government for her past services. Mary & her husband came to Savannah on July 24, 1749, accompanied by Malatchee & 2 other chiefs. Malatchee announced that he was "the present and only reigning Emperor" & that all Creeks were his loyal followers. Malatchee also announced that 200 more chiefs & their warriors would be in Savannah within 8 days. And so Mary produced a large body of Indian warriors into Savannah in the summer of 1749, terrorizing the town for nearly a month. In 1754, she & her husband sailed for England to press her claims.

Not until 1759, was a settlement reached, the English government finally agreeing to give her St. Catherines Island & 1,200 pounds for her services to Georgia. Back on St. Catherines, she & her husband built a manor house & developed a cattle ranch, but Mary died not live long to enjoy it. Sometime in the early 1760s, she died & was buried on the island. Her only children, by her 1st husband, had all died in infancy.

This posting based, in part, on information from Notable American Women edited by Edward T James, Janet Wilson James, Paul S Boyer, The Belknap Press of Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. 1971

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Portrait of 18C American Woman

1771 John Singleton Copley 1738-1815 Mrs. Roger Morris (Mary Philipse) Winterthur

Monday, November 25, 2019

Biography - Leading Ladies in Early American Theater Troupes

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Actresses in the 18th-century were generally not regarded with the same respect that male actors were. The stage was not a woman's world, as it was said to be better suited for men. On one hand, women were looked down upon if they acted, as it was not seen as genteel or ladylike. On the other hand, English women actresses often were viewed as celebrities, because they kept the aristocracy & royalty entertained & occasionally socialized with them.

Much was expected from actors during this time, not just mental preperation & memorization but physical work was required from the entire troupe. Women were expected to keep the pace & work just as hard as men. Usually, rehearsals were held every morning for several hours & performed every afternoon or evening. A successful leading lady might have to learn 30 different parts in one season. Acting in the American colonies was even more difficult, often requiring building & assembling a stage with its sets.

1733 The Laughing Audience by Edward Matthew Ward (1816-1879) from an etching by William Hogarth (1697-1764) made in 1733

Here William Hogarth depicted The Laughing Audience in 1733, showing a typical 18th-century English theater scene. The wealthier patrons are seated in the boxes, while those theatergoers with less money to spare sat in the pit. A spiked barricade separates the audience from the acting company.

Mrs. Lewis Hallam (d. 1774), leading lady of the principal theatrical company in colonial America, was born in England. Little is known of her background or personal life, although her maiden name may have been Rich. Her daughter Isabella Hallam Mattocks, in answering a query for biographical information in 1800, stated that, “Mr (John) Rich the late Patentee of Covent Garden and his family are my relatives.” John Rich was the father of pantomime in the English theater.

The Hallams were a large theatrical family, but she was in all likelihood the “Mrs. Hallam” who appeared with Lewis Hallam, when he made his stage debut in “Mr. [William] Hallam’s Company of Comedians” at York Buildings, London, on July 17, 1735. William Hallam, 1712-1758 the older brother of Lewis, was a restless entrepreneur who, after meeting some success with less ambitious theatrical ventures, in 1744, assembled a company to present stock plays “between the two parts of a concert.” In the next year Lewis Hallam & his wife became regular members of the company, Mrs. Hallam appearing as Lady Anne in Richard III, Hypolita in She Would & She Would Not, Almeria in The Mourning Bride, Miranda in Dryden’s version of The Tempest, & Lady Percy in Henry IV.

1730 William Hogarth, The Beggar's Opera, London, England

As this painting depicts, at this time it was still common for members of the audience to pay a little extra to sit on the stage itself. This ensured that everyone in the house could see their fine clothes, hear their witty comments, & the young gallants could get close to the actresses. When an actor had a benefit performance, they would squeeze as many seats as they could on to the stage in order to maximise their profit. The actors barely had enough room to perform & were subject to interference from the spectators.

In December 1751, William Hallam went into bankruptcy. Despairing of success in England, he organized a troupe to invade the New World under his brother’s direction. Lewis (1714-1756) & his wife Sarah were to play the principal roles; their sons, Lewis , Jr. (1740-1808), and Adam, & their daughter Isabella (b 1746) would go along to learn the profession. The company reached Virginia in June 1752, & gave their first performance, a version of The Merchant of Venice, at a refurbished theatre in Williamsburg on Sept. 15, Mrs. Hallam playing Portia.

Shakespeare's plays became increasingly popular during the 18th century but were reworked to suit the tastes of the day. His style was still felt to be too erratic, & poets such as Alexander Pope carefully tidied up any uneven verse lines. Shakespeare's ending to King Lear was felt to be too distressing and Nahum Tate's revised version (where Cordelia and the King survive) was preferred to the original.

Constrained by the limited population centers in rural colonial life, the Hallam company were necessarily itinerant, playing short seasons in Williamsburg, New York, Philadelphia, Charleston, & other provincial capitals. In each new locale they would prepare or build a playhouse, having overcome the inevitable resistance of those who felt the stage to be a corrupting influence, & then work their way through a set round of stock plays.

1738 Hogarth, Actresses in a Barn, One of a series of prints called "Four Times of the Day," shows a group of actresses gathered in a barn getting ready for their final performance.

Mrs. Hallam appeared repeatedly as Indian in Richard Steele’s The Conscious Lovers, as Angelica in William Congreve’s Love for Love, as Milwood in George Lillo’s The London Merchant, as Andromache in Ambrose Philips’ The Distrest Mother, as Calisto in Nicholas Rowe’s The Fair Penitent, as Cordelia in Nahum Tate’s version of King Lear, as Columbine in the pantomimes.

The Hallams’ professional experience followed a common colonial pattern: failure at home, but they won an honorable place in the history of their profession by pioneering in America. An English visitor recorded his pleasure & surprise “on finding performers in this country equal at least to those who sustain the best of the first characters in [England’s] most celebrated provincial theatres.”

Of her style & ability there are few records. Long after she had given up Columbine and the gay heroines for character roles, the diarist Alexander Graydon described her as “a respectable, matron-like dame, stately or querulous as occasion required, a very good Gertrude [Hamlet], a truly appropriate Lady Randolph [John Home’s Douglas] with her white handkerchief & her weeds; but then, to applaud, it was absolutely necessary to forget, that to touch the heart of the spectator had any relation to her function” (Memoirs, p. 76).

In 1754 the Hallam company was in Charleston (then Charles Town), & Lewis decided to extend their territory by making an expedition to Jamaica. Here they joined forces with the remnants of an earlier company established under the leadership of John Moody.

Among the actors was David Douglass, & when Lewis Hallam died in 1756, his widow married Douglass & the company came under his control. Douglass brought his itinerant players back to the mainland in the summer of 1758 & in 1763, with a manager’s shrewd sensitivity to the public pulse, renamed them “The American Company of Comedians.”

By now Mrs. Hallam-Douglass had given up the more demanding roles to younger talents, but she had still to confront the primitive theatres, the haphazard conditions of production, & the perils of 18th-century transportation. Her death occurred sometime after the spring of 1774, but circumstantial evidence supports the traditional story, reported in a New York paper, that she died in Philadelphia, in a house near the Southwark Theatre, & was buried in a Presbyterian cemetery, since destroyed, at Third & Arch streets. David Douglass, turning to other pursuits in Jamaica, remarried in 1778, & died in 1786.


Of the other actresses prominent to the Hallam company during Mrs. Hallam’s lifetime, the one who first succeeded to her leading roles was Margaret Cheer. Miss Cheer seems to have come from London late in 1763, & joined the company in Charleston.

A letter of February 1764, from that city declares that “Her fine person, her youth, her voice, & Appearance &c conspire to make her appear with propriety-Such a one they much wanted as Mrs Douglass was their chief actress before &…on that account had always too many Characters to appear in.” (Rankin, p. 102).

Margaret Cheer rose quickly in the ranks, & by the winter of 1766, when the company was in Philadelphia , had taken over Cordelia, Juliet, Lady Macbeth, & Indiana. She was Imogen in the first American production of Cymbeline & played the leading female role in Thomas Godfrey’s The Prince of Parthia (1767), the first play by a native American to be performed professionally. A Philadelphia newspaper called her “one of the best players in the Empire,” suggesting that she had some reputation before joining the company.

On Aug. 28, 1768, the Pennsylvania Chronicle reported her marriage to a young Scottish nobleman, Lord Rosehill, then visiting America. The marriage, if it did in fact take place, did not last; that November she appeared again with the company under her maiden name, but retired the next year. During her brief career she played more than fifty roles, including Cleopatra in All for Love, Portia, Ophelia, Marcia in Cato, Mrs. Beverly in The Gamester, Mrs. Sullen in The Beaux’ Stratagem, & the Lady in Comus.

Of longer prominence in the company was a niece of Mrs. Hallam-Douglass whom David Douglass brought back from England after a recruiting trip in 1765. Though she is recorded only as “Miss Hallam,” it has been suggested that she was the Nancy (Ann) Hallam who had appeared with the company in children’s roles in Philadelphia in 1759, & soon afterward dropped from view, perhaps having been sent to London for musical training. Whatever her identity, Miss Hallam made an immediate success in ingenue parts & the singing roles of afterpieces, & between 1766 & 1774 she steadily advanced in the female ranks of the troupe.

In 1769, after playing her first Juliet in New York on May 8, she succeeded Margaret Cheer as leading lady. In the next five years, she was applauded as Polly in The Beggar’s Opera, as Ophelia & Imogen, as Angelica in Love for Love, as Maria in George Barnwell, as Almeria in The Mourning Bride, Lucinda in The Conscious Lovers, Miss Sterling in The Clandestine Marriage, Charlotte Rusport in The West Indian.

1771 Charles Willson Peale Actress Nancy Hallam dressed in her costume as the boy Fidele in Shakespeare's Cymbeline.

Some notion of her acting is preserved in Charles Wilson Peale’s portrait of her as Imogen, now at Colonial Williamsburg. Several effusions appearing in the Maryland Gazette in 1770 & 1771 (“The Musick of her tongue! The vox liquida, how melting!…How true & thorough her Knowledge of the Character she personated!”) suggest that she was at least capable of exciting a warm response in impressionable young men. When the Hallam company ended its season in Charleston in 1774, Miss Hallam went to Falmouth, England, where she vanishes from the records of the stage. She has been identified as the “Miss Hallam” who married John Raymond, organist of Kingston, Jamaica, in 1775, but without supporting evidence.

1785 Thomas Rowlandson An Audience Watching a Play

Of Mrs. Lewis Hallam’s own children, her daughter Helen (Sarah?) appeared wit the company for 2 years, making her debut as Jessica in the troupe’s first Williamsburg performance of The Merchant of Venice, in 1752. Her portrayals were mainly chambermaids & ingĂ©nues, & she seems to have left the stage in 1754. Lewis Hallam, Jr., remained with the traveling theatrical company throughout, becoming leading man after his father’s death. As principal of a reorganized Hallam company, he added fresh laurels to the family’s acting reputation in America in the years following the Revolution. Another daughter, Isabella (1746-1826), remained in England, under the care of a relative, when the rest of the family first went to America. Later, as Mrs. George Mattocks, she achieved fame in England as a comedienne & singer.

This posting based, in part, on information from Notable American Women edited by Edward T James, Janet Wilson James, Paul S Boyer, The Belknap Press of Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. 1971
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Sunday, November 24, 2019

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Biography - 1780 Revolutionary Women's Relief Effort of Esther De Berdt (1746-1780) (Mrs. Joseph Reed)

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Ester De Berdt (1746-1780) (Mrs. Joseph Reed) depicted in classical republican dress by Charles Willson Peale (1741-1827).

Ester De Berdt Reed (1746-1780), leader of women’s relief work during the American Revolution, was born in London, England, one of 2 children & the only daughter of Dennys De Berdt, a devout Congregationalist descended from Flemish religious refugees, & Martha (Symons) De Berdt. Her father, a merchant in the colonial trade, later served as agent for the colonies of Massachusetts & Delaware & in that capacity helped secure repeal of the Stamp Act.

He was host to many American at his London home & his country house at Enfield. Several of these visitors courted his daughter, a studious, pious young woman, delicate in appearance yet animated in speech & manner. The one who won her love was Joseph reed, a young lawyer from New Jersey, whom she first met in 1763. But their marriage was delayed, first by the opposition of her father & then by Reed’s absence in America for 5 years. Reed returned to England in 1770, & the wedding took place in London on May 31. The couple had planned to remain in England, but De Berdt’s death 7 weeks before the wedding left his family financially distressed; & the Reeds, accompanied by Mrs. De Berdt, sailed to American & settled in Philadelphia.

Joseph Reed quickly became a leader of the patriot movement in the growing controversy with England, & his wife also identified herself fully with the American cause. During the meeting of the First Continental Congress in 1774, she was hostess to Washington, John & Samuel Adams, & other delegates. She was glowingly referred to by a Connecticut member as “a Daughter of Liberty, zealously affected in a good Cause.” Amid growing tension in early 1775, Mrs. Reed wrote to her brother, Dennis, in England that “if these great affairs must be brought to a crisis & decided, it had better be in our time than our childrens.” Her own children were then 3 in number: Martha, Joseph, & Esther. Three others were born during the Revolution: Theodosia, Dennis De Berdt, & George Washington; Theodosia died in infancy of smallpox in 1778.

During the first 3 years of the war, Esther Reed’s husband was often away with the army as Washington’s aide. The family itself was forced to flee Philadelphia on three different occasions, as the city became a military focal point. After the British left Philadelphia, & with the subsequent election of Joseph Reed as president (governor) of Pennsylvania, the Reeds settled again in that city.

At the height of the American Revolution in May 1780, General George Washington reported to the Congress in Philadelphia, that his troops were at the point of exhaustion. Without adequate food, clothing, & pay, they needed immediate relief.

Hearing the desperation of the plea & hoping “to render themselves more really useful,” the women of Philadelphia accepted the challenge. In May & June of 1780, Mrs. Reed, only recently recovered from an attack of smallpox, served with vigor as chairman of a campaign among the women of Philadelphia & Germantown to raise funds for Washington’s soldiers. Organizing a committee of 39 women, she was able to report to Washington on July 4, that the equivalent of $7,500 in specie had been contributed. When the General asked that the money be used for linen shirts for his men, the women’s committee purchased the linen & cut & sewed the shirts themselves. Over 2,000 shirts were delivered to the army at the year’s end. Mrs. Reed also tried with some success to spread the work elsewhere, but though her letters brought into being local committees of women in other Philadelphia towns, in Trenton, N.J., & in Maryland, the initial Philadelphia endeavor was nowhere equaled in extent & results. By Independence Day, July 4, 1780, Esther Reed wrote to Washington that the women had raised more than $300,000. The women's agressive, patriotic campaign received repeated praise in the local newspaper, the Pennsylvania Packet.

Esther Reed organized & led this women's relief effort in the weeks immediately following the birth in May of George Washington Reed, her 6th baby in 10 years of marriage. She died suddenly in Philadelphia in September 1780, at the age of 33, the victim of an acute dysentery. The relief committee was carried forward under the direction of Sarah Franklin Bache, daughter of Benjamin Franklin. Mrs. Reed was buried at Philadelphia’s Second Presbyterian Church. In 1868, her remains, together with those of her husband, were moved to Laurel Hill Cemetery. Her husband would die 5 years later.

Just before she died in the late summer of 1780, Philadelphia printer John Dunlap published an anonymous broadside called the Sentiments of an American Woman, which was probably written by Esther Reed.

"THE SENTIMENTS of an AMERICAN WOMAN.

"ON the commencement of actual war, the Women of America manifested a firm resolution to contribute as much as could depend on them, to the deliverance of their country.

"Animated by the purest patriotism, they are sensible of sorrow at this day, in not offering more than barren wishes for the success of so glorious a Revolution. They aspire to render themselves more really useful; and this sentiment is universal from the north to the south of the Thirteen United States.

"Our ambition is kindled by the same of those heroines of antiquity, who have rendered their sex illustrious, and have proved to the universe, that, if the weakness of our Constitution, if opinion and manners did not forbid us to march to glory by the same paths as the Men, we should at least equal, and sometimes surpass them in our love for the public good. I glory in all that which my sex has done great and commendable. I call to mind with enthusiasm and with admiration, all those acts of courage, of constancy and patriotism, which history has transmitted to us: The people favoured by Heaven, preserved from destruction by the virtues, the zeal and the resolution of Deborah, of Judith, of Esther! The fortitude of the mother of the Massachabees, in giving up her sons to die before her eyes: Rome saved from the fury of a victorious enemy by the efforts of Volumnia, and other Roman Ladies: So many famous sieges where the Women have been seen forgeting the weakness of their sex, building new walls, digging trenches with their feeble hands, furnishing arms to their defenders, they themselves darting the missile weapons on the enemy, resigning the ornaments of their apparel, and their fortune, to fill the public treasury, and to hasten the deliverance of their country; burying themselves under its ruins, throwing themselves into the flames rather than submit to the disgrace of humiliation before a proud enemy.

"Born for liberty, disdaining to bear the irons of a tyrannic Government, we associate ourselves to the grandeur of those Sovereigns, cherished and revered, who have held with so much splendour the scepter of the greatest States, The Batildas, the Elizabeths, the Maries, the Catharines, who have extended the empire of liberty, and contented to reign by sweetness and justice, have broken the chains of slavery, forged by tryants in the times of ignorance and barbarity. The Spanish Women, do they not make, at this moment, the most patriotic sacrifices, to encrease the means of victory in the hands of their Sovereign. He is a friend to the French Nation. They are our allies. We call to mind, doubly interested, that it was a French Maid who kindled up amongst her fellow-citizens, the flame of patriotism buried under long misfortunes: It was the Maid of Orleans who drove from the kingdom of France the ancestors of those same British, whose odious yoke we have just shaken off; and whom it is necessary that we drive from this Continent.

"But I must limit myself to the recollection of this small number of achievements. Who knows if persons disposed to censure, and sometimes too severely with regard to us, may not disapprove our appearing acquainted even with the actions of which our sex boasts? We are at least certain, that he cannot be a good citizen who will not applaud our efforts for the relief of the armies which defend our lives, our possessions, our liberty? The situation of our soldiery has been represented to me; the evils inseparable from war, and the firm and generous spirit which has enabled them to support these.

"But it has been said, that they may apprehend, that, in the course of a long war, the view of their distresses may be lost, and their services be forgottten. Forgotten! never; I can answer in the name of all my sex. Brave Americans, your disinterestedness, your courage, and your constancy will always be dear to America, as long as she shall preserve her virtue.

"We know that at a distance from the theatre of war,if we enjoy any tranquility, it is the fruit of your watchings, your labours, your dangers. If I live happy in the midst of my family; if my husband cultivates his field, and reaps his harvest in peace; if, surrounded with my children, I myself nourish the youngest, and press it to my bosom, without being affraid of feeing myself separated from it, by a ferocious enemy; if the house in which we dwell; if our barns, our orchards are safe at the present time from the hands of those incendiaries, it is to you that we owe it. And shall we hesitate to evidence to you our gratitude? Shall we hesitate to wear a cloathing more simple; hair dressed less elegant, while at the price of this small privation, we shall deserve your benedictions.

"Who, amongst us, will not renounce with the highest pleasure, those vain ornaments, when-she shall consider that the valiant defenders of America will be able to draw some advantage from the money which she may have laid out in these; that they will be better defended from the rigours of the seasons, that after their painful toils, they will receive some extraordinary and unexpected relief; that these presents will perhaps be valued by them at a greater price, when they will have it in their power to say: "This is the offering of the Ladies. The time is arrived to display the same sentiments which animated us at the beginning of the Revolution, when we renounced the use of teas, however agreeable to our taste, rather than receive them from our persecutors; when we made it appear to them that we placed former necessaries in the rank of superfluities, when our liberty was interested; when our republican and laborious hands spun the flax, prepared the linen intended for the use of our soldiers; when exiles and fugitives we supported with courage all the evils which are the concomitants of war.

"Let us not lose a moment; let us be engaged to offer the homage of our gratitude at the altar of military valour, and you, our brave deliverers, while mercenary slaves combat to cause you to share with them, the irons with which they are loaded, receive with a free hand our offering, the purest which can be presented to your virtue,

By An AMERICAN WOMAN."

See: Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774-1789, 26 vols. (Washington, Library of Congress, 1976-2000), 15:284, 287, 315-16, 329, 355; William B. Reed, Life and Correspondence of Joseph Reed, 2 vols. (Philadelphia: Lindsay and Blakiston, 1847), 2:260-71, 429-49; and Pennsylvania Packet (Philadelphia, John Dunlap), June 13, 17, 27; July 8; and November 4, 1780. This posting based, in part, on information from Notable American Women edited by Edward T James, Janet Wilson James, Paul S Boyer, The Belknap Press of Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. 1971

Friday, November 22, 2019

Portrait of 18C American Woman

1771 John Singleton Copley 1738-1815 Mrs Ezekiel Goldthwait Elizabeth Lewis Boston MFA

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Biography - American Shaker Founder "Mother" Ann Lee 1736-1784


Shaker Village, Canterbury, New Hampshire

Ann Lee (1736-1784), founder of the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing, commonly called Shakers in the United States, was born in Manchester, England, one of 8 children of John Lees, a blacksmith living on Toad Lane, & his wife. Ann later shortened her surname to Lee. She had no schooling. Early in her teens she went to work in a textile mill, preparing cotton for the looms & cutting velvet & hatter’s fur. There she was distinguished for her “faithfulness, neatness, prudence & economy.” She was a serious girl, “not addicted to play;” she brooded often about sin & the world’s wrongs.

In her twenties 2 events occurred which changed the courser of Ann Lee’s life. In 1758, she joined a society led by James Wardley, a tailor, & his wife Jane, former Quakers, who upon coming under the influence of the French Prophets, or Camisards, had separated from the Friends. From their manner of worship, which consisted of singing, dancing, shouting, shaking, & speaking in new tongues, they became known as “Shakers.” They prophesied that the 2nd coming of Christ was at hand, but otherwise had no definite creed.

The 2nd turning point in Ann’s life was her marriage. At the urging of relatives, she reluctantly consented to wed Abraham Standerin (Stadley or Stanly), a blacksmith employed in her father’s shop. She was still a member of the Church of England, for the banns were published in the Cathedral, Ann & Abraham signing by mark only. After the marriage (Jan. 5, 1762) the couple made their home with her parents, where in the course of the next few years 4 children were born to them, all of whom died in infancy. The deliveries were difficult, & Ann was near death after the birth of the last child.

This unwanted marriage which ended in tragedy, took its toll of the young wife. Worn by hears of toil in the mills, subject to the wretched conditions of an overcrowded slum, she broke down completely. Obsessed by the fears that the deaths of her children were a punishment for her concupiscence, her “violation of God’s laws,” she mortified herself, foregoing sleep & all but the meanest food, until, weak & wasted, she felt “as helpless as an infant.”

While Ann Lee was wasting away in jail, in the summer of 1770, she claimed that "by a special manifestation of divine light the present testimony of salvation and eternal life was fully revealed to her," and by her to the society, "by whom she from that time was acknowledged as mother in Christ, and by them was called Mother Ann."

"She saw the Lord Jesus Christ in his glory, who revealed to her the great object of her prayers, and fully satisfied all the desires of her soul. The most astonishing visions and divine manifestations were presented to her view in so clear and striking a manner that the whole spiritual world seemed displayed before her. In these extraordinary manifestations she had a full and clear view of the mystery of iniquity, of the root and foundation of human depravity, and of the very act of transgression committed by the first man and woman in the garden of Eden. Here she saw whence and wherein all mankind were lost from God, and clearly realized the only possible way of recovery."

"By the immediate revelation of Christ, she henceforth bore an open testimony against the lustful gratifications of the flesh as the source and foundation of human corruption; and testified, in the most plain and pointed manner, that no soul could follow Christ in the regeneration while living in the works of natural generation, or in any of the gratifications of lust."


Returning to the Wardleys, she once again found protection from the buffetings of fate. Now she had a mission, one that elevated her, about 1770, to leadership in the society. Two years later, when the Shakers began to carry their crusade into the streets & churches, they experienced their first “persecution.” Twice, in 1772 & 1773, Ann & her companions were arrested & imprisoned for breach of the Sabbath. She was confined to the “Dungeons” & from there transferred to Bedlam, the Manchester Infirmary. In these prisons she had her “grand vision” of the transgression of the first man & woman in the garden of Eden. Here she received her divine commission to complete Christ’s work. “It is not I that speak,” she told her followers, "it is Christ who dwells in me.” This intimate presence (“I converse with Christ; I feel him present with me, as sensible as I feel my hands together”) was later interpreted by her followers as constituting the second coming of Christ.

After her release from confinement, the Shakers received a “revelation” that the opening of the gospel would occur not in old England but in America. Accordingly Ann - now called Mother, of Mother of the New Creation - sailed for America on May 19, 1774, accompanied by her brother William, her chief disciple James Whittaker, & 6 others, including, strangely enough, her husband. They landed in New York on Aug. 6 & for a time went their separate ways in search of employment. Her husband Abraham found solice in drinking & left his wife. Whittaker, William Lee, & John Hocknell, the only “wealthy” members of the sect, eventually acquired a tract of land in Niskayuna (later Watervliet), near Albany, N.Y., where the Shakers settled in the spring of 1776.

A Shaker Dwelling in Mount Lebanon, New York

Here, after 4 years of isolation, came their first opportunity to preach the gospel, as an aftermath of a New Light Baptist revival in & around New Lebanon, N.Y. Hearing of a people who proclaimed that the millennium had already begun, disillusioned subjects of the revival flocked to Niskeyuna to see “the woman clothed with the sun.” Conversions rapidly increased. The prophetess was imprisoned for several months in 1780 on false charges of aiding the British, her pacifist principles having roused suspicion among her patriot neighbors. But after her release she continued her work, carry out, in 1781-83, an arduous but successful proselyting mission into parts of eastern New York & New England. When she died, in the fall of 1784, soon after her return to Nisheyuna, the foundation had been laid for eleven communities. She was buried in the Shaker cemetery at Niskeyuna. Her immediate successor, James Whittaker, lived only three more years, but her work was carried forward & systematized by the next heads of the society, Joseph Meacham & Lucy Wright.

Shakers Dancing

Mother Ann Lee must have had a magnetic personality, for during her career she attracted individuals from every walk of life, & after her death her spirit persisted as an ever-present mother image in the order. Physically she was of medium height, with a fair complexion, blue eyes, & chestnut brown hair. Her teaching was simple: confession was the doorway to salvation, celibacy its rule & cross. She envisaged a fellowship like that of the primitive Christian church, where “all that believed were together & had all things in common.” Like the Quakers, she took a firm stand against slavery, the taking of oaths, the bearing of arms. Repeatedly she counseled neatness, economy, charity to the poor.


While she strictly enjoined celibacy on her followers & for a time seems to have condemned marriage in the outside world as well, she later modified her views, holding that marriage was permissible on the “Adamic plane,” but that there was a higher plane, one nearer perfection, a “resurrection order” that was free of all carnal lust. In this order all should have equal privileges regardless of sex, race, or temporal possessions.

Mother Ann Lee was obsessed about “lust” & her messianic pretensions, but she did inspire a movement deeply religious in aspiration & essentially democratic in practice. Her advocacy of equal rights & responsibilities for women in the Shaker society anticipated the feminist movement in America. Her belief in an equalitarian order, in the dignity of labor, & in the rights of conscience accorded with American idealism. Hers was probaby the most successful experiment in religious communitarianism in American history.

A Group of Shakers

A little more about Mother Ann's theory of lust & salvation -- from a volume of "Hymns and Poems for the Use of Believers" (Watervliet, Ohio, 1833), Adam is made to confess the nature of his transgression and the cause of his fall, in a dialogue with his children:

"First Adam being dead, yet speaketh, in a dialogue with his children.

"Children. First Father Adam, where art thou?
With all thy num'rous fallen race;
We must demand an answer now,
For time hath stript our hiding-place.
Wast thou in nature made upright—
Fashion'd and plac'd in open light?

"Adam. Yea truly I was made upright:
This truth I never have deni'd,
And while I liv'd I lov'd the light,
But I transgress'd and then I died.
Ye've heard that I transgress'd and fell—
This ye have heard your fathers tell.

"Ch. Pray tell us how this sin took place—
This myst'ry we could never scan,
That sin has sunk the human race,
And all brought in by the first man.
'Tis said this is our heavy curse—
Thy sin imputed unto us.

"Ad. When I was plac'd on Eden's soil,
I liv'd by keeping God's commands—
To keep the garden all the while,
And labor, working with my hands.
I need not toil beyond my pow'r,
Yet never waste one precious hour.

"But in a careless, idle frame,
I gazed about on what was made:
And idle hands will gather shame,
And wand'ring eyes confuse the head:
I dropp'd my hoe and pruning-knife,
To view the beauties of my wife.

"An idle beast of highest rank
Came creeping up just at that time,
And show'd to Eve a curious prank,
Affirming that it was no crime:—
'Ye shall not die as God hath said—
'Tis all a sham, be not afraid.'

"All this was pleasant to the eye,
And Eve affirm'd the fruit was good;
So I gave up to gratify
The meanest passion in my blood.
O horrid guilt! I was afraid:
I was condemn'd, yea I was dead.

"Here ends the life of the first man,
Your father and his spotless bride;
God will be true, his word must stand—
The day I sinn'd that day I died:
This was my sin, this was my fall!—
This your condition, one and all.

"Ch. How can these fearful things agree
With what we read in sacred writ—
That sons and daughters sprung from thee,
Endu'd with wisdom, power, and wit;
And all the nations fondly claim
Their first existence in thy name?

"Ad. Had you the wisdom of that beast
That took my headship by deceit,
I could unfold enough at least
To prove your lineage all a cheat.
Your pedigree you do not know,
The SECOND ADAM told you so.
"When I with guile was overcome,
And fell a victim to the beast,
My station first he did assume,
Then on the spoil did richly feast.
Soon as the life had left my soul,
He took possession of the whole.

"He plunder'd all my mental pow'rs,
My visage, stature, speech, and gait;
And, in a word, in a few hours,
He was first Adam placed in state:
He took my wife, he took my name;
All but his nature was the same.

"Now see him hide, and skulk about,
Just like a beast, and even worse,
Till God in anger drove him out,
And doom'd him to an endless curse.
O hear the whole creation groan!
The Man of Sin has took the throne!

"Now in my name this beast can plead,
How God commanded him at first
To multiply his wretched seed,
Through the base medium of his lust.
O horrid cheat! O subtle plan!
A hellish beast assumes the man!

"This is your father in my name:
Your pedigree ye now may know:
He early from perdition came,
And to perdition he must go.
And all his race with him shall share
Eternal darkness and despair."

The same theory of the fall is stated in another hymn:
p. 123

"We read, when God created man,
He made him able then to stand
United to his Lord's command
That he might be protected;
But when, through Eve, he was deceiv'd,
And to his wife in lust had cleav'd,
And of forbidden fruit receiv'd,
He found himself rejected.

"And thus, we see, death did begin,
When Adam first fell into sin,
And judgment on himself did bring,
Which he could not dissemble:
Old Adam then began to plead,
And tell the cause as you may read;
But from his sin he was not freed,
Then he did fear and tremble.

"Compell'd from Eden now to go,
Bound in his sins, with shame and woe,
And there to feed on things below—
His former situation:
For he was taken from the earth,
And blest with a superior birth,
But, dead in sin, he's driven forth
From his blest habitation.

"Now his lost state continues still,
In all who do their fleshly will,
And of their lust do take their fill,
And say they are commanded:
Thus they go forth and multiply,
And so they plead to justify
Their basest crimes, and so they try
To ruin souls more candid."

The "way of regeneration" is opened in another hymn in the same collection:
p. 124

"Victory over the Man of Sin.

"Souls that hunger for salvation,
And have put their sins away,
Now may find a just relation,
If they cheerfully obey;
They may find the new creation,
And may boldly enter in
By the door of free salvation,
And subdue the Man of Sin.

"Thus made free from that relation,
Which the serpent did begin,
Trav'ling in regeneration,
Having pow'r to cease from sin;
Dead unto a carnal nature,
From that tyrant ever free,
Singing praise to our Creator,
For this blessed jubilee.

"Sav'd from passions, too inferior
To command the human soul;
Led by motives most superior,
Faith assumes entire control:
Joined in the new creation,
Living souls in union run,
Till they find a just relation
To the First-born two in one.

"But this prize cannot be gained.
Neither is salvation found,
Till the Man of Sin is chained,
And the old deceiver bound.
All mankind he has deceived,
And still binds them one and all,
Save a few who have believed,
And obey'd the Gospel call.

"By a life of self-denial,
True obedience and the cross,
We may pass the fiery trial,
Which does separate the dross. p. 125
If we bear our crosses boldly,
Watch and ev'ry evil shun,
We shall find a body holy,
And the tempter overcome.

"By a pois'nous fleshly nature,
This dark world has long been led;
There can be no passion greater—
This must be the serpent's head:
On our coast he would be cruising,
If by truth he were not bound:
But his head has had a bruising,
And he's got a deadly wound.

"And his wounds cannot be healed,
Light and truth do now forbid,
Since the Gospel has revealed
Where his filthy head was hid:
With a fig-leaf it was cover'd,
Till we brought his deeds to light;
By his works he is discover'd,
And his head is plain in sight."


Following the doctrines were put forth by Ann Lee, & elaborated by her successors:

I. That God is a dual person, male and female; that Adam was a dual person, being created in God's image; and that "the distinction of sex is eternal, inheres in the soul itself; and that no angels or spirits exist who are not male and female."

II. That Christ is a Spirit, and one of the highest, who appeared first in the person of Jesus, representing the male, and later in the person of Ann Lee, representing the female element in God.

III. That the religious history of mankind is divided into four cycles, which are represented also in the spirit world, each having its appropriate heaven and hell. The first cycle included the antediluvians—Noah and the faithful going to the first heaven, and the wicked of that age to the first hell. The second cycle included the Jews up to the appearance of Jesus; and the second heaven is called Paradise. The third cycle included all who lived until the appearance of Ann Lee; Paul being "caught up into the third heaven." The heaven of the fourth and last dispensation "is now in process of formation," and is to supersede in time all previous heavens. Jesus, they say, after his death, descended into the first hell to preach to the souls there confined; and on his way passed through the second heaven, or Paradise, where he met the thief crucified with him.

IV. They hold themselves to be the "Church of the Last Dispensation," the true Church of this age; and they believe that the day of judgment, or "beginning of Christ's kingdom on earth," dates from the establishment of their Church, and will be completed by its development.

V. They hold that the Pentecostal Church was established on right principles; that the Christian churches rapidly and fatally fell away from it; and that the Shakers have returned to this original and perfect doctrine and practice. They say: "The five most prominent practical principles of the Pentecost Church were, first, common property; second, a life of celibacy; third, non-resistance; fourth, a separate and distinct government; and, fifth, power over physical disease." To all these but the last they have attained; and the last they confidently look for, and even now urge that disease is an offense to God, and that it is in the power of men to be healthful, if they will.

VI. They reject the doctrine of the Trinity, of the bodily resurrection, and of an atonement for sins. They do not worship either Jesus or Ann Lee, holding both to be simply elders in the Church, to be respected and loved.

VII. They are Spiritualists. "We are thoroughly convinced of spirit communication and interpositions, spirit guidance and obsession. Our spiritualism has permitted us to converse, face to face, with individuals once mortals, some of whom we well knew, and with others born before the flood." * They assert that the spirits at first labored among them; but that in later times they have labored among the spirits; and that in the lower heavens there have been formed numerous Shaker churches. Moreover, "it should be distinctly understood that special inspired gifts have not ceased, but still continue among this people." It follows from what is stated above, that they believe in a "probationary state in the world of spirits."

VIII. They hold that he only is a true servant of God who lives a perfectly stainless and sinless life; and they add that to this perfection of life all their members ought to attain.

IX. Finally, they hold that their Church, the Inner or Gospel Order, as they call it, is supported by and has for its complement the world, or, as they say, the Outer Order. They do not regard marriage and property as crimes or disorders, but as the emblems of a lower order of society. And they hold that the world in general, or the Outer Order, will have the opportunity of purification in the next world as well as here.


This posting based, in part, on information from Notable American Women edited by Edward T James, Janet Wilson James, Paul S Boyer, The Belknap Press of Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. 1971

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Portrait of 18C American Woman

1771 Charles Willson Peale 1741-1827 Margaret Strachan Mrs Tho Harwood  Met

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Biography - Cherokee Leader Nancy Ward 1738-1822 of Tennessee

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Nancy Ward (c 1738-1822), Cherokee leader, was probably born at Chota, a Cherokee village on the Little Tennessee River near Fort Loudoun in Monroe County, Tennessee. Her father is said to have been a Delaware Indian who, following the custom in the matriarchal Cherokee society, had become a member of the Wolf clan, when he married Tame Doe, the sister of Atta-kulla-kulla (Little Carpenter), civil chief of the Cherokee Nation.

Nancy (an anglicized version of her Indian name, Nanye’hi), was married at an early age to Kingfisher of the Deer clan, by whom she had a son, Fivekiller, & a daughter, Catharine.

She first won notice in 1755, when her husband was killed during the battle of Taliwa (near present-day Canton, Ga.), a skirmish in the long rivalry between the Cherokees & the Creeks. At once taking his place in the battle line, she helped secure a decisive Cherokee victory. In recognition of her valor, she was chosen Agi-ga-u-e, or “Beloved Woman” of her tribe. In this capacity, she headed the influential Women’s Council, made up of a representative from each Cherokee clan, & sat as a member of the Council of Chiefs.

Her 2nd husband was Bryant (or Brian) Ward. Ward, an English trader who had fought in the French and Indian War, took up residence with the Cherokees & married Nancy in the late 1750s. Ward had a wife, but since Cherokees did not consider marriage a life-long institution, the arrangement apparently presented few problems. Ward & her English husband lived in Chota for a time & became the parents of a daughter, Elizabeth (Betsy).

Ward left the Cherokee Nation sometime prior to 1760, when the suddenly hostile Cherokees destroyed Fort Loudoun & massacred its British garrison. Ward moved back to South Carolina, where he lived the remainder of his life with his white wife & family. Nancy Ward and Betsy visited his home on many occasions, where they were welcomed and treated with respect.

Influenced perhaps by these associations, as well as by her uncle, Atta-kulla-kulla, usually a friend of the English, Nancy Ward seems to have maintained a steady friendship for the white settlers who were gradually establishing themselves along the Holston & Watauga river valleys of eastern Tennessee.

This friendship had important results during the American Revolution. In 1775 or 1776, Nancy Ward is credited with having sent a secret warning to John Sevier, a leader of the Tennessee settlers, of a planned pro-British Cherokee attack. When one settler, Mrs. William Bean, was captured by Cherokee warriors, Nancy Ward personally intervened to save her from death at the stake. Such was Nancy Ward’s repute among the settlers that in October 1776, when the Cherokee villages were devastated by colonial troops, Chota was spared.

Four years later, when another Cherokee uprising was imminent, she again sent a timely warning to the settlers, using an intermediary Isaac Thomas, a local trader. A countering raid was at once organized; as the expedition approached the Cherokee territory-according to the report later sent to Thomas Jefferson, governor of Virginia, noted, “the famous Indian Woman Nancy Ward came to Camp,…gave us various intelligence, & made an overture in behalf of some of the Cheifs [sic] for Peace”

Despite her efforts the Cherokee villages were pillaged, but again Nancy Ward & her family were given preferential treatment. At the subsequent peace negotiations conducted by John Sevier, Nancy Ward spoke for the new defeated Cherokees, again urging friendship rather than war. In 1785, at the talks preceding the Treaty of Hopewell, she again pleaded eloquently for a “chain of friendship” linking the 2 cultures.

Nancy Ward was described by one settler in 1772, as “queenly & commanding” & her residence as outfitted in “barbaric splendor” (Hale & Merritt, I, 59). While sheltering Mrs. Bean after her rescue in 1776, she had learned from her how to make butter & cheese, & soon afterward she introduced dairying among the Cherokees, herself buying the first cattle. In postwar years, she sought further to strengthen the economy of her people by cattle raising & more intensive farming.

Ward exerted considerable influence over the affairs of both the Cherokees & the white settlers & participated actively in treaty negotiations. In July 1781, she spoke powerfully at the negotiations held on the Long Island of the Holston River following settler attacks on Cherokee towns. Leader Oconastota designated Kaiyah-tahee (Old Tassel) to represent the Council of Chiefs in the meeting with John Sevier & the other treaty commissioners. After Old Tassel finished his persuasive talk, Ward called for a lasting peace on behalf of both white and Indian women. This unparalleled act of permitting a woman to speak in the negotiating council took the commissioners aback.

In their response, Colonel William Christian acknowledged the emotional effect her plea had on the men & praised her humanity, promising to respect the peace if the Cherokees likewise remained peaceful. Ward's speech may have influenced the negotiators in a more fundamental way, because the resulting treaty was one of the few where settlers made no demand for Cherokee land. Before the meeting, the commissioners had intended to seek all land north of the Little Tennessee River. Nevertheless, the earlier destruction of Cherokee towns & the tribe's winter food supply left many Indians facing hunger. As a result of the desperate circumstances, Ward & the very old Oconastota spent that winter in the home of Joseph Martin, Indian Agent to the Cherokees & husband of Ward's daughter Betsy.

Again, at the Treaty of Hopewell in 1785, Ward made a dramatic plea for continued peace. At the close of the ceremonies, she invited the commissioners to smoke her pipe of peace & friendship. Wistfully hoping to bear more children to people the Cherokee nation, Ward looked to the protection of Congress to prevent future disturbances and expressed the hope that the "chain of friendship will never more be broken." Although the commissioners promised that all settlers would leave Cherokee lands within six months and even gave the Indians the right to punish recalcitrant homesteaders, whites ignored the treaty, forcing the Cherokees to make addional land cessions.

Though too ill to be present, she sent a vigorous message to the Cherokee Council of May 1817, urging the tribe not to part with any more of its land. But other forces were stronger than her aged voice. At this time, the Cherokee moved from a matriarchal, clan-type of government to a republic much like our own. The new republican order supplanted the old hierarchy among the Cherokees, & by the Hiwassee Purchase on 1819, they gave up all the land north of the Hiwassee River.

Thus forced to leave Chota, Nancy Ward opened a small inn overlooking the Ocoee River in the southeastern corner of Tennessee, near the present town of Benton. She died there in 1822, & was buried on a nearby hill, in a grave later marked by a Tennessee D.A.R. chapter bearing her name. Her grave is beside the graves of her son Five Killer and her brother Long Fellow (The Raven). Thirteen years after her death the Cherokees surrendered all claim to their historic homeland & were transported to new territories in the Southwest.

Nancy Ward's Grave, once unmarked, near Benton, Tennessee

This posting based, in part, on information from Notable American Women edited by Edward T James, Janet Wilson James, Paul S Boyer, The Belknap Press of Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. 1971
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Monday, November 18, 2019

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Philadelphia-born Quaker Minister Rebecca Jones 1739-1818

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Rebecca Jones (1739-1818), Quaker minister, was born in Philadelphia, the only daughter of William & Mary Jones. Her father, a sailor, died at sea when she was too young to remember him, leaving 2 children, Rebecca & an older brother. Her mother, a loyal member of the Church of England, conducted a school for little girls in her home. Eager for Rebecca to become a teacher, her mother made sure that her daughter obtained a good education.

As a girl “romping Becky Jones” often attended Friends meetings with her playmates. The Quakers (or Religious Society of Friends) had formed in England in 1652, around a charismatic leader, George Fox (1624-1691). Many saw Quakers as radical Puritans, because the Quakers carried to extremes many Puritan convictions. They stretched the sober deportment of the Puritans into a glorification of "plainness." They expanded the Puritan concept of a church of individuals regenerated by the Holy Spirit to the idea of the indwelling of the Spirit or the "Light of Christ" in every person. Such teaching struck many of the Quakers' contemporaries as dangerous heresy.

Early Quaker Meeting

Quakers were severely persecuted in England for daring to deviate so far from orthodox Christianity. By 1680, 10,000 Quakers had been imprisoned in England; & 243 had died of torture & mistreatment in the King's jails. This reign of terror impelled Friends to seek refuge in New Jersey, in the 1670s, where they soon became well entrenched.

In 1681, when Quaker leader William Penn (1644-1718) parlayed a debt owed by Charles II to his father into a charter for the province of Pennsylvania, many more Quakers were prepared to grasp the opportunity to live in a land where they might worship freely. By 1685, as many as 8,000 Quakers had come to Pennsylvania. Although the Quakers may have resembled the Puritans in some religious beliefs & practices, they differed with them over the necessity of compelling religious uniformity in society.

When little Rebecca Jones began to refrain from such “ornamental branches” of her studies as music & dancing, her mother realized the that Quaker influence was striking deeper than she liked & sought to thwart it. The conflict wore heavily on Rebecca, who was also undergoing an intense inner struggle to surrender her own will to God’s. This she eventually achieved, aided by encouragements in 1755, from a visiting English Friend, Catherine Peyton.

After long hesitation Rebecca Jones in 1758, at 19, began to speak in the Friends meetings for worship, an open indication of her adoption of the Quaker faith. Two years later her gift in the ministry was “acknowledged” by her meeting, her mother thereupon becoming reconciled to the daughter’s decision.

Rebecca Jones thus became one of the laymen & women by whom the Quaker ministry has traditionally been performed. For over 20 years, she combined this ministry with teaching her mother’s school, which she too over upon her mother’s illness & death in 1761, though her inclination had been to find some other means of livelihood. She proved an able & respected schoolmistress.

Early Quakers

She was a devoted friend of the famous Quaker minister John Woolman, who once penned mottoes for her pupils’ writing lessons. She retained, in her unassuming way, a certain “queenly dignity,” as well as an easy & gracious manner. These qualities enhanced the effectiveness of her speaking. Among women of her time she stood out for her intellectual capacity, quick wit, strength of character, & “sanctified common sense.”

In 1784, while at the height of her power as a preacher, Rebecca Jones gave up her school & laid before her monthly meeting her wish to visit Friends in England, a concern she had long cherished. Credentials were granted, & she sailed with 6 other Friends from Philadelphia. So impressed was the captain, Thomas Truxtun, later a naval here of the war with France, that he declared in London he had brought over an American Quaker lady who possesses more sense than both Houses of Parliament.

On arriving, the Friends sent straight to the Yearly Meeting, where a petition, long endorsed by American Friends, to establish a woman’s meeting for discipline, with more powers that the women’s meeting had had previously, was about to be presented to the men’s meeting. Rebecca Jones was instrumental in securing its approval.

Silhouette of Rebecca Jones. Early Quakers objected to having their portraits drawn or painted, but likenesses drawn from tracing a shadow casting and trimming out the resulting shape were considered acceptable by the church.

During the next 4 years, with a succession of the ablest women Friends as companions, she traversed the length & breadth of England & also visited Scotland ,Wales, & Ireland. She impressed her hearers with the need for a revival of zeal & simplicity. Her memorandum of her tour enumerated 1,578 meetings for worship & discipline & 1,120 meetings with Friends in the station of servants, apprentices, & laborers (for whom she had a special concern), besides innumerable religious family visits. Her message particularly reached the young. Under a sense of “fresh & sure direction,” she returned home in the summer of 1788.

Having given up teaching, she now earned her living by keeping a little ship which her English friends kept supplied with “lawns & cambrics & find cap muslins.” She continued he preaching, frequently attending yearly & quarterly meetings in various parts of the Northeastern states, especially in New Jersey & New England.

She fell ill in the yellow fever epidemic of 1793, in which 4,000 Philadelphians died, but lived to resume herm ministry & the wide correspondence which was a major activity of her later years. In the mid-1790s, she contributed her knowledge of Friends education in England to the founding of Westtown (Pa.) School, a boarding school which opened in the spring of 1799, patterned after the Ackworth Friends School in Yorkshire.

Silhouette of Rebecca Jones.

For more than 50 years Rebecca Jones was a trusted counselor & informal almoner, “eminent for leading the cause of the poor.” Her home was always open to those in trouble or wishing her advice; possessing “singular penetration on discovering cases of distress, and delicacy in affording relief” (Allinson, p. 256), she was also a frequent visitor at Friends almshouses.

In 1813, she suffered an attack of typhus fever; & for the last 5 years of her life, she was confined almost entirely to her home, where she was devotedly card for by Bernice Chattin Allinson, a young widow whom she had taken in as a daughter. Rebecca Jones died in Philadelphia in 1818, in her 79th year. She was buried in the Friends ground on Mulberry (now Arch) Street on the morning of the yearly meeting of ministers & elders.

This posting based, in part, on information from Notable American Women edited by Edward T James, Janet Wilson James, Paul S Boyer, The Belknap Press of Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. 1971
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