"" Writer's Wanderings: Founding Mothers

Monday, November 06, 2006

Founding Mothers

For our book discussion group this month, we are reading Founding Mothers by Cokie Roberts (Harper Collins). It's a little slow reading because of all the quoting Roberts does from the correspondence of the women who "mothered" our founding fathers--sometimes even though they were the wives.

At the very start, my attention was captured by the story of Eliza Lucas Pinckney. At age 16, she was left in charge of all of her father's plantations, an ailing mother and toddler sister while her father went of to Antigua to fight in the war and her brothers were off in England being educated. This amazing young woman managed multiple plantations, researched her best business opportunities for exports, and studied and researched how to grow indigo to become an important importer of indigo to Europe. (Indigo was used to make blue dye--especially for military uniforms). Eventually, after much trial and error--and ridicule, she succeeded in growing the indigo and extracting a dye from it. She passed along the seeds to some of the farmers around her in an effort to make South Carolina a source of important exports to England.

Needless to say, Eliza didn't have much time for the frivolities of life although her uncle did try to encourage her to lighten up. At age 22, she finally married Charles Pinckney, who was 45.

I understand that it was a different era, but for a woman--a teen-aged woman--to have been that successful and determined is truly remarkable for any period in history. I can't help but wonder if she didn't learn more than those brothers who were sent off to England for their education.

I read on. . .

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...