Revolutionary War Women You Didn’t Learn About in School

“Remember the ladies.” In her letter dated March 31, 1776, Abigail Adams writes to her husband John, reminding him that women should not be considered second class citizens and to “be more favorable to them than your ancestors.”

I wonder if Abigail knew how much a role the ladies would play in America’s fight for independence.

I’ve always been amazed how this country came to be. I’ve read books about John Adams and Benjamin Franklin, watched numerous history series about the American Revolution, and visited historical sites. Every time I learn something about how we gained our independence, I’m more amazed that our thirteen colonies succeeded.

Our founding fathers were an extraordinary group of men, and plenty has been written about them. Some of their wives, such as Martha Washington and Abigail Adams also became famous. What we don’t hear about are the every day women who made significant contributions during the war. I must admit that I didn’t think about them until I started watching the AMC series “Turn: Washington’s Spies.”

By the summer of 1778, General Washington needed to know where the British troops were in New York and what their plans were. He realized the value of intelligence and appointed Benjamin Tallmadge head of the Continental Army’s secret service in November 1778. This new group of spies would be known as the Culper Spy ring.

Tallmadge recruited only those he could trust, his childhood friend Abraham Woodhull and Caleb Brewster who had served under Tallmadge in various major battles.

Among the members of the Culper Ring was Anna Smith Strong, Woodhull’s neighbor. She lived alone for most of the war, after her husband was confined to a British prison ship, and would use laundry hanging on her clothesline as signals for clandestine meeting locations.

Other women were in the infamous spy ring, but were only known as 355, the numeric code designated for a woman. These women supplied information to General Washington and played a role in uncovering Benedict Arnold’s treason.
Some women were known as floaters, “moving” information great distances, sometimes behind enemy lines.

Sybil Ludington was a female Paul Revere. In 1777 a rider came to their door with information the British were going to attack the nearby town of Danbury, CT. Her father was a colonel who had to prepare for battle. His regiment had disbanded for planting season. The rider was too tired to ride any farther, so the colonel sent his 16-year-old daughter to ride 40 miles, (more than Paul Revere) to spread word to the regiment. Almost all were gathered before daybreak. And she did it without a map!

It was easy for women to fall into the world of spying, but no less dangerous. Women were left at home while sons and husbands were off fighting. Many women worked as cooks and maids so it was easy to eavesdrop and they often had unrestricted access to officers’ and soldiers’ areas. Women were seen as innocent and non-threatening so it was easy for them to gather intelligence. They could easily report on supply levels, troop movements and troop numbers.

Lydia Barrington Darragh lived opposite the house where British Gen.William Howe conducted business. She would listen through the keyhole and smuggle out information when she could. When she learned of the planned surprise attack on Washington, she made up an excuse that the house needed flour so she could get a pass to leave occupied Philadelphia to get supplies. On the her way to Whitemarsh she ran into her friend Col. Thomas Craig. She relayed her information to him, and he relayed the information directly to Washington.

Some of the women left at home offered their homes as storage areas for contraband. Martha Bratton became famous for blowing up hidden ammunition and gunpowder before the British troops could excavate it.

There must be hundreds of stories like these that we will never know about. Every day citizens, doing what they could with what they had to help the rebels in the cause for independence. We don’t hear too much about the sacrifices and heroic actions of the every day citizen during the American Revolution. Sharing a few of these behind the scenes stories makes you see one more layer of our American history.

References:

  1. The American Revolution. National Women’s History Museum. https://www.nwhm.org/online-exhibits/spies/2.htm.
  2. The Culper Spy Ring. History.com. http://www.history.com/topics/american-revolution/culper-spy-ring.

 

 

 

Why Hollywood Should Strike

I hear some actors are going to boycott the Oscars. There was talk about all of Hollywood boycotting the Oscars to show their disdain for our new President. Too bad it was only talk. I was hoping they would take it a step further and go on strike.

Think about it. Has anything worth watching come out of Hollywood in the last twenty years? The last good film I saw in the theater was Titantic. Oh wait. I saw this animated picture last summer about feelings at the outdoor that was pretty good, but I can’t remember the name of it. But I really liked it.

In order for Hollywood to go on strike they would have to present some legitimate issues. Unfortunately, the only thing legitimate coming out of Hollywood these days is whiny, overpaid actors. But, if some precious silence comes from my efforts, it’s worth a try. Here are some “reasonable” grievances (by Hollywood standards) that they could use to strike.

Normal workers will usually decide to strike because of low wages, poor working conditions, or inadequate benefits.

Judging by some Hollywood salaries, I have my work cut out for me. According to Forbes, Dwayne Johnson at number one pulled in $64.5 million last year. Shah Rukh Khan (whoever that is) came in at number 10 at $33 million.

The actresses might have an argument that they could use. There was only one woman in the top 20. I know the Hollywood gals often complain about this wage disparity, so maybe they could organize a strike in Leonardo Dicaprio’s driveway.

I’m sure there is plenty of room for their picket lines.

I hear that Leonardo is a such a ladies’ man, he would probably welcome them and even cater a nice lunch for them: organic with the least amount of carbon footprint to produce.

The paparazzi will surely follow the gals so they’ll get plenty of press. What pictures the MSM (mainstream media) doesn’t get, the actresses will provide on their social media. We’ll benefit because they’ll be complaining about something that we don’t care about and not be making any bad movies. I’d say that’s a win/win.

What about working conditions? This could be a tough one to argue, too.

As I understand it, an actor gets to choose his working conditions. He reads a script and decides to take the role or not. If he takes the role, he accepts where the film will be shot. When he’s not on set, he gets a trailer big enough for a family of four that someone stocks for him with specific food and drink noted in his contract. Most employees are lucky to get a break room with a refrigerator where they can stash their lunch.

Let’s not forget that he also has someone to drive him to work, to tell him what to wear, a personal trainer if required and finally a script that shows what to say. Looks like an actor doesn’t really have to do too much for himself. I presume the actors are potty trained.

I suppose he could argue that his trailer isn’t big enough, or his cotton sheets don’t have a high enough thread count. After all, he’s been pretending to be this super hero since he was five and should be compensated for all this preparation.

We have one final reason, benefits. Most employees would like more vacation time, a better retirement package or help with health insurance. Actors can take vacation whenever they want, but they don’t get paid. Why not argue that they should be like the rest of the work force and get a paid vacation.

They could strike for a personal financial adviser, since it’s hard for them to think for themselves when everything else is done for them. And, if they do buy insurance, maybe they could fight for unlimited plastic surgery and Botox treatments.

From the little people’s point of view, it sounds like Hollywood doesn’t have a good reason to strike. Does that mean the actors should reconsider?

When the garbage picker-uppers strike, we have a problem. Garbage piles up, rats take over, disease spreads and bubonic plague threatens our livelihood. When bus drivers go on strike, people have to bum rides off their co-workers. Co-workers put up with it for a while but then find themselves compelled to join a dating website that requires them to be on call 24/7 so they have an excuse for not being available to tote co-worker to work. This situation puts a strain on the working relationship and on some marriages.

Pretty soon you have a hostile workplace and the company has to hire outside consultants to set up safe spaces.

If Hollywood goes on strike, the worst that could happen would be no new movies to waste, I mean, spend your money on. And Hollywood would be fighting for their favorite cause, themselves. There is no downside. Another win/win.

Everyone is happy and we can all go home. I’d have time to watch my Carry Grant movies, and if we’re lucky, the whiners will STAY home and give the rest of us a break.

 

 

How to Start Coloring the Easy Way

Looking for a simple way to relax? I have two words for you: adult coloring.

Besides the relaxation benefit, coloring can also reduce stress. Studies show that coloring is a mindful activity. You are focused and you’re performing a repetitive motion, taking your mind off your worries.

When I color, it reminds me of when I was a child, when life was simpler and happier. That simple escape helps with my mild depression, and it’s much healthier than eating a box of chocolates. Not as much fun, but still enjoyable.
Finally, there is no wrong way to color, so you can’t make a mistake. Performance anxiety be damned!

The adult coloring phase started a few years ago, and I’m here to tell you it’s going strong. As with any fad, everyone wants to get on the bandwagon to make some money. And I’m all for that because I’m a capitalist, but the market becomes flooded with materials, and pretty soon the average person who wants to try something simple doesn’t know where to start.

Next time you’re shopping, spend some time looking at the coloring books.

Wal-Mart is a good place to look at coloring books. They’ll have the most popular, and you’ll get a feel for what they look and feel like. Different books have different kinds of paper ranging in thickness and texture, and even shades of white. If you plan to use fine-line markers, you’ll want to make sure you pick a paper that won’t bleed. We’ll talk more about this option later.

The next thing you’ll want to notice about the book is how tight the binding is. It needs to open flat to make coloring easier. My first two coloring books were from the Creative Haven line. Although the designs were beautiful, the binding was tight and I sometimes got frustrated with the book flapping closed. The pages are perforated though, so if you don’t mind tearing them out, go for it. The paper is also on the thin side, so if you plan to use markers, you might have problems with bleeding.

Creative Haven

The first thing you’ll notice when you look at the adult coloring book is that the book is a work of art. You’re not getting a $2 coloring book with thin paper and big thick lines. These books are beautiful without any color, so just imagine what they’ll be like when you fill them in.

Some books, like Johanna Basford’s have pictures where she leaves out some details leaving you room to add your own. If you’re feeling extra creative, you’ll love her coloring books.

Johanna Basford

You’ll also notice the very small spaces that need filling in. Don’t worry. You’re not going to using crayons. You’re going to use colored pencils, and I don’t mean Crayola pencils either. Don’t get me wrong, I loved getting my 64 pack of Crayola crayons with the sharpener as a child, but you are now a grownup who deserves grownup materials.

If you go to Amazon for shopping information like I do and search under adult coloring, you’ll get over 24,000 results. Wow! If you feel like diving in and spending hours going through all that information, be my guest. Or, you can keep reading to find out what I recommend to simplify your coloring life.

My recommendations for pencils.

I have found two kinds of pencils that satisfy me, and they weren’t expensive. Are there better ones to choose from? Probably. But for the money, this is a good place to start. Each kind has enough colors and they sharpen and hold a point well. Sargent pencil have a regular and watercolor set of 50 pencils. If you want your pictures to pop, make sure you get the regular. I found these Fine Touch pencils one day while shopping at Hobby Lobby and because of the great price, I decided to try them. They work great. If you buy from Hobby Lobby, make sure to take your 40% coupon from your Retailmenot app.

For about $30, you can jump into the coloring craze and de-stress. It’s cheaper than a therapist and you don’t have to talk about your feeeeellings. I must warn you though. It won’ t belong before your creativity craves  more.

Pretty soon you’ll no longer be satisfied with your one box of pencils. You need something that will fill in those tiny details.

That’s when you need a set of markers.

I must confess, that I have two sets of markers: Stablio and Staedler. It wasn’t long before I needed more colors. What, five shades of green isn’t enough, you say? Those blank coloring pages were screaming for vibrant color, and I wanted to be the one to make those designs pop off the page.

I’m very happy with these two brands of markers. Make sure that you get a small size tip to fit; 3mm is my recommendation. You may even decide to forego pencils and chose to use only markers. Just make sure that your paper can withstand the heavy color.

When I started coloring over a year ago, I fell in love with it immediately. As a result, I was coloring whenever I could. My hands and wrists soon started to feel the strain from the pressure needed to get vibrant colors from the pencils.

Still not satisfied…

I went searching for a softer pencil and found these wonderful gems: Premier  color pencils. These are my favorite, and they come with a price tag to match. When you feel you’ve graduated to master colorer, treat yourself. These are creamy pencils that are like a crayon in pencil form. The lead does wear down much faster, but you can replace just one pencil. Hobby Lobby sells them individually.

A couple of other things to add to your hobby is a pencil sharpener if you don’t have one, and plastic bins to hold your pencils and markers. You’ll want to get rid of those boxes the pencils come in.

Well, that about covers your intro to coloring. I hope you find as much enjoyment out of this hobby as I do. Let me know if you found this article helpful or if you have any questions. If you want to see some of my creations, check out my Pinterest page.

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