Politicians and Patriots


Mercy Otis Warren

John Singleton Copley, Artist
ca. 1763
Oil on Canvas

Mercy Otis Warren was one of the most accomplished female Revolutionaries of the period. As an author, historian, playwright, and activist, Warren openly defended the Revolution in her writing, often using propaganda and satire to voice her political views. In 1805, she published her three-volume History of the Rise, Progress and Termination of the American Revolution, one of the first histories of the Revolution and the first written by a woman. 

Photograph © 2020 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Elizabeth Willing Powel (Mrs. Samuel Powel)

Matthew Pratt, Artist
1768 – 1770
Oil on Canvas

Elizabeth Willing Powel was one of the leading social figures in Revolutionary Philadelphia. Following her marriage to Samuel Powel in 1769, Elizabeth hosted several social events at their home. These French-style “salons” provided a place for the city’s elite and leading intellectuals to gather and discuss politics. Among those she hosted were the Washingtons, the Adamses, and the Marquis de Lafayette. 

Some attribute Powel with convincing George Washington to remain in office for a second term. After the death of her husband in 1793, Elizabeth continued to manage the household and remained a political influence.

Philadelphia Museum of Art: Purchased with the George W. Elkins Fund, 1973-1-1

Hannah Fayerweather Winthrop (Mrs. John Winthrop)

John Singleton Copley, Artist
Oil on Canvas

Hannah Winthrop was a friend and confidant of Mercy Otis Warren. In 1775, the Massachusetts Colony General Court appointed Winthrop, along with Warren and Abigail Adams, to question Massachusetts women accused of remaining loyal to the British crown.  

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Morris K. Jesup Fund, 1931

Margaret Kemble Gage (Mrs. Thomas Gage)

Jonathan Singleton Copley, Artist
Oil on Canvas

Margaret Kemble Gage was married to British General Thomas Gage. At the beginning of the American Revolution, General Gage was the commander in chief of the British North American forces. Many believe Margaret, a New Jersey native, was sympathetic to the colonial cause and ultimately responsible for giving the Continental Army advanced warning of the British Army’s march to Lexington and Concord in April 1775. One clergyman described her as “a daughter of liberty unequally yoked in the point of politics.”

Putnam Foundation, Timken Museum of Art, San Diego

“For the Pennsylvania Packet”

The General Advertiser
November 4, 1780
Ink on Paper

This paper discusses women’s patriotism during the Revolutionary War and praises women for exercising their “highest political virtue.” Esther Reed, Mary Digges Lee, and Martha Washington are all mentioned as exemplary women of the state.

On Loan from Chris Foard and Marianne Foard