ROCK ISLAND, Ill., June 24, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — As Independence Day approaches many will recognize the efforts of our nation’s Founding Fathers. Two great men often come to mind – George Washington and Benjamin Franklin. However, these men did not act alone.
Although their stories are not widely known, the wives of these two men, as well as many other female patriots, bravely served our country as well.
Martha Washington, affectionately named “Lady Washington” by the American militia, was active in providing food and clothing for the starving Revolutionary War soldiers, as well as using her medicinal skills to nurse the sick and dying.1 She also served as a role model by getting inoculated with a smallpox vaccine.2 “George Washington, as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, ordered mandatory inoculation against smallpox for any soldier who had not gained prior immunity against the disease through infection.”3 Lady Washington’s brave example to receive the relatively new preventative treatment encouraged the troops to get vaccinated against the highly contagious and often life-threatening infection. After the war Martha advocated for the soldiers when she approached Congress and requested the former soldiers receive veteran’s benefits.4
Deborah Read Franklin, wife of Benjamin Franklin, managed the postal service and real estate business in Philadelphia while Benjamin was in France. When the Stamp Act was enacted, Deborah, who owned no firearms, had to use diplomacy to defend her home against an angry mob.5 However, she did call upon her brother and cousin for backup – just in case.
Sometimes violence could not be avoided and women were often in harm’s way. In spite of the danger, many women joined their husbands as they fought off the British. Although they were generally tasked with domestic duties such as cooking, mending, and doing laundry, sometimes they felt it was their patriotic duty to do more. Margaret Cochran Corbin (known as Molly Pitcher) accompanied her husband, John, an artilleryman, to the battlefield in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania. When John was killed, she took over the firing of the cannon until she was struck in the arm, chest, and jaw by enemy fire. She survived the war but never regained use of her left arm.6
Cokie Roberts, author of the book, Founding Mothers, The Women Who Raised Our Nation, outlines dozens of stories, mostly unknown, of women in the 1770s who helped our country win its independence. She also notes that recognition of women’s contributions throughout history often go unrecorded or unnoticed.7
However, during an interview in 2014 Roberts lauded the efforts of nine Midwestern women who fought a different battle. In 1895, some 119 years after the Revolutionary War, these women helped change history. They were patriotic and compassionate. However, when these nine women saw how families suffered when the mother in a family died but that these women’s lives were generally not insurable, they decided to take action. They created Royal Neighbors of America, an organization with a vision to protect women financially and empower them to improve their lives, families, and communities. Royal Neighbors became one of the first to insure women in the U.S., and later one of the first to insure children, too.
“The farsightedness of the women who founded Royal Neighbors is amazing,” said Roberts in a 2014 edition (issue three) of The Royal Neighbor magazine. “Think how hard it was to do what they did because they had no political or legal rights. In most places, married women couldn’t own property, and anything they tried to do like establishing an organization, required their husband’s approval and signature. Doing something like starting Royal Neighbors was incredibly difficult.”
Royal Neighbors of America, one of the nation’s largest women-led life insurers, empowers women to meet the needs of their families with annuities and life insurance products such as whole life, simplified issue, and universal life. Royal Neighbors was founded in 1895 and is headquartered in Rock Island, IL, with a branch office in Mesa, AZ. For more information, visit www.royalneighbors.org or call (800) 627-4762.
To learn more about Royal Neighbors and its unique history, or to help create a better future for your own family, visit www.royalneighbors.org.
Cutline: Martha Washington was active in providing food and clothing for the starving Revolutionary War soldiers, as well as using her medicinal skills to nurse the sick and dying.
W2016-5; Rev. 6-2016
1National First Ladies Library, First Lady Biography: Martha Washington, Online Article, PDF on file.http://www.firstladies.org/biographies/firstladies.aspx?biography=1
2The Daily Beast, George Washington, the First Vaxer, Oct. 5.2014, Tom Shactman, Online Article, PDF on file. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/10/05/george-washington-the-first-vaxxer.html
3The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, U.S. Military and Vaccine History, Online Article, PDF on file. http://www.historyofvaccines.org/content/articles/us-military-and-vaccine-history
4Danuta Bois, Distinguished Women of Past and Present – Margaret Chochran Corbin,1997, Accessed October 8, 2013. http://www.distinguishedwomen.com/biographies/corbin.html
5Founding Mothers, The Women Who Raised Our Nation, Cokie Roberts, Page 44, Harper Collins, Published 2004.
6Danuta Bois, Distinguished Women of Past and Present – Margaret Chochran Corbin,1997, Accessed October 8, 2013. http://www.distinguishedwomen.com/biographies/corbin.html
7Founding Mothers, The Women Who Raised Our Nation, Cokie Roberts, Introduction, Page xvi, 44, Harper Collins, Published 2004.
A photo accompanying this release is available at:
Sally Marks(480) 970-2521