1. Angelica Schuyler Church
Famously known as a feminist and strong willed female in the Broadway hit musical Hamilton, Angelica Schuyler is seldom thought about, but should be associated as a founding mother.
Angelica Schuyler was born in Albany, New York; the eldest child of Phillip Schuyler and Catharine Van Rensselaer Schuyler. She had seven siblings who lived to adulthood, including Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton.
Angelica came of age during the American Revolution, and met many of the prominent revolutionary leaders. Because of her father’s rank and political stature, the Schuyler house in Albany was the scene of many meetings and war councils.
Angelica never failed to enchant the famous, intelligent men she met; and in Paris she befriended Benjamin Franklin, U.S. Ambassador to France. She also developed lasting friendships with Franklin’s successor, Thomas Jefferson and Marquis de Lafayette. Through her newly formed friendships, she was able to have a backseat in politics – girl power!
Angelica’s now famous correspondence with Alexander Hamilton shows their deep affection for each other, but also their spiritual connection. Hamilton relied on Angelica for advice and ultimately her opinion on the forming country.
2. Dolley Madison
Dolley Payne Todd Madison was the wife of James Madison, President of the United States from 1809 to 1817. Dolley Madison defined the role of First Lady. Dolley Madison also helped to furnish the newly constructed White House. When the British set it on fire in 1813. Madison was credited with saving the portrait depicting George Washington.
Despite much controversy about what happened on the night of 1814, a movie depicting Dolley Madison would be interesting in itself to truly understand how she shaped the role of First Lady.
3. Abigail Adams
Abigail Adams was born in Weymouth, Massachusetts, to William Smith and Elizabeth Smith. Adams was a sickly child and was not considered healthy enough for formal schooling. Although she did not receive a formal education, her mother taught her and her sisters to read, write and cipher. As an intellectually open-minded woman for her day, Adams’ ideas on women’s rights and government would eventually play a major role in the founding of the United States. She became one of the most famous first ladies.
Adams’s life is one of the most documented of the first ladies making her a perfect choice for a movie subject. She is remembered for the many letters she wrote to her husband, John Adams as he stayed in Philadelphia during the Continental Congresses. John frequently sought the advice of Abigail on many matters of women’s rights and slavery. Her letters provide for an excellent eyewitness report of life on the home front of the American Revolution.
4. Phillis Wheatley
Although the date and place of her birth are not documented, Wheatley is believed to be born in 1753 in West Africa. Wheatley was brought to British-ruled Boston, Massachusetts, on July 11, 1761, on a slave ship called The Phillis. She was brought to the Wheatley family and given their surname.
The Wheatleys’ daughter, Mary, tutored Phillis in reading and writing. John Wheatley was known as a progressive throughout New England; his family gave Phillis an unprecedented education for an enslaved person, and for a female of any race. By the age of 12, Phillis was reading Greek and Latin classics and difficult passages from the Bible. Recognizing her literary ability, the Wheatley family supported Phillis’s education and left the household labor to their other domestic slaves. The Wheatleys often showed off her abilities to friends and family. Through her poetry, she became the voice of the American Revolution.
5. Mercy Otis Warren
Mercy Otis Warren was born on September 14, 1728, the third of thirteen children and first daughter of Colonel James Otis and Mary Allyne Otis. The family lived in West Barnstable, Massachusetts. The Otis children were raised with revolutionary ideals. Although Mercy had no formal education, she studied with Reverend Jonathan Russell while he tutored her brothers Joseph and James in preparation for College. Unlike most girls of the time who were simply literate, Warren wanted to learn as much as she possibly could. This set her apart from other girls, and most likely paved the way for her to break the traditional gender roles of her time. Her father also had unconventional views of his daughter’s education, as he fully supported her endeavors, a very rare situation for the time.
She married James Warren on November 14, 1754. After settling in Plymouth, James inherited his father’s position as sheriff. Her husband James had a distinguished political career. This led to Mercy actively participating in the political life of her husband including the American Revolution. Their Plymouth home was often a meeting place for local politics and revolutionaries including the Sons of Liberty. With the assistance of her friend Samuel Adams, these meetings laid the foundation for the Committee of Correspondence. Afterwards Mercy became her husband’s chief correspondent and sounding board. Warren formed a strong circle of friends including Abigail Adams, Martha Washington, and John Adams. Through their correspondence they increased the awareness of women’s issues. Mercy then became an advisor to many political leaders including Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. Sadly, all of Mercy’s works were published anonymously until 1790 when she republished all of her works including her political poems and dramas.
Mercy Otis Warren is considered as being the most influential writers of the Revolutionary War making this list incomplete without her.