Elizabeth Grimke Rutledge

Wife of Founding Father John Rutledge

John Rutledge was a delegate to the South Carolina Assembly, the Stamp Act Congress, the Continental Congress and the U.S. Constitutional Convention, where he signed the United States Constitution. The Founding Father was also Governor of South Carolina from 1776-1782, Chief Justice of South Carolina and Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. His elder brother, Edward Rutledge, signed the Declaration of Independence.

Image: John Rutledge

Elizabeth Grimke was born November 29, 1741, in South Carolina, the daughter of Charleston lawyer Frederick Grimke and Martha (Emmes) Grimke. Elizabeth was the first cousin of John Faucheraud Grimke, father of the famous 19th-century abolitionist sisters, Sarah and Angelina Grimke.

Read Article

The Continental Congress

Governing Body During the American Revolution

Image: First Continental Congress

The First Continental Congress was convened on September 5, 1774, in Carpenters Hall in Philadelphia, the largest city in America at the time. Fifty-six delegates appointed by the legislatures of twelve of the thirteen colonies attended this first meeting, which was in session between September 5 and October 26, 1774. Georgia did not send any representatives to the first Congress.

The relationship between the Thirteen Colonies and the Kingdom of Great Britain had slowly but steadily worsened since the end of the French and Indian War in 1763. The war had plunged the British government deep into debt, prompting the Parliament to enact a series of measures to increase tax revenue from the colonies.

Read Article

Lady Christina Stuart Griffin

Wife of Founding Father Cyrus Griffin

Image: Cyrus Griffin

Cyrus Griffin (1749 – 1810) was a lawyer and judge who served as the last President of the Continental Congress, holding office from January 22, 1788, to November 2, 1788. After the ratification of the new United States Constitution rendered the old Congress obsolete, he became a Federal judge.

Lady Christina Stuart was born in 1751 in Peebleshire, Scotland. Cyrus Griffin was born July 16, 1748 in Farnham, Virginia, the son of Leroy and Mary Ann Bertrand Griffin. Griffin studied law at the Temple in London and the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, where he became close friends with Charles Stuart, Lord Linton, first son and heir of the Earl of Traquair. During the Christmas holiday, Charles invited him to his family’s estate.

Read Article

Mary Pinckney

Wife of Founding Father Charles Pinckney

Image: Charles Pinckney

Charles Pinckney (1757-1824) was an American politician who was a signer of the U.S. Constitution, Governor of South Carolina and a member of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. An ardent believer in the rights of man, he helped to establish a strong national government so that “the effects of the Revolution may never cease to operate,” but continue to serve as an example to others “until they have unshackled all the nations that have firmness to resist the fetters of despotism.”

Mary Eleanor Laurens was born April 27, 1770, at Charleston, South Carolina, the daughter of Eleanor Ball Laurens and Founding Father Henry Laurens. Charles Pinckney was born into the South Carolina low-country aristocracy on October 26, 1757, the son of Frances Brewton and Charles Pinckney. His father, a wealthy lawyer and planter, owned seven plantations scattered throughout the colony. Snee Farm, which the elder Pinckney purchased in 1754, was one of the family’s favorite country retreats.

Read Article

Kitty Floyd

James Madison’s First Love

Image: James Madison

Born in 1751, James Madison was the oldest among the eleven children of James Madison Sr., the wealthiest man in Orange County, Virginia. Even as a child, Madison had been unusually studious. As a young boy, he left his father’s plantation to attend an advanced school in a neighboring county. After five years studying astronomy, French, logic, mathematics and philosophy, he returned to his family’s plantation, Montpelier, to be tutored for two more years by a local minister.

James Madison
By Charles Willson Peale, 1783
Oval portrait miniature given to Kitty Floyd as a pin in a velvet-lined container.
From the Library of Congress Rare Book and Special Collections Division.

Read Article

Elizabeth Phillips Gates

Wife of Revolutionary War General Horatio Gates

Horatio Gates was born in England in 1727. He received a lieutenant’s commission in the British Army in 1745. Gates went to Halifax, Nova Scotia in June 1749 and served as aide-de-camp to Colonel Edward Cornwallis, uncle of Charles Cornwallis. In 1752, Colonel Cornwallis returned to England, but Gates served as aide-de-camp to two successors. During this time, he met Elizabeth Phillips, but in order to marry her, he had to improve his prospects, so in January 1754, he returned to London.

Image: General Horatio Gates

There, Gates found that his connections were no help in the present political climate. By June, he had given up and was about to return to Nova Scotia. Then a position came available in a company stationed in Maryland. A captain was ill and wanted to sell his commission. Edward Cornwallis recommended Horatio Gates and Gates was able to purchase the commission.

Read Article

Mary Middleton Butler

Wife of Founding Father Pierce Butler

Image: Pierce Butler

Mary Middleton was born in 1750, the daughter of Thomas Middleton, South Carolina planter and slave importer. Mary’s uncle Arthur Middleton was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Mary’s grandmother Mary Brandford Bull willed her holdings, including Toogoodoo Plantation, to her four granddaughters. Three of the granddaughters died soon after receiving their inheritance and Bull’s vast fortune was all transferred to Mary.

Pierce Butler was born in Ireland on July 11, 1744, and came to America in 1768 as an officer in the British Army. He was a major in the 29th Regiment, which was sent to Boston in 1768 in an effort to suppress the growing colonial resistance against Britain. A detachment from his unit fired the shots during the Boston Massacre on March 5, 1770, in which British redcoats killed five civilian men, thereby intensifying the confrontation between the colonies and England.

Read Article

Lord Dunmore’s Promise of Freedom

Slavery and the American Revolution

In early 1775, Patriots in the Virginia Colony began to organize militia companies and seek out military supplies (weapons, ammunition, and gunpowder) to arm and equip them for the conflict that seemed to be inevitable. The Virginia Conventions were organized by the Patriots after Royal Governor Lord Dunmore (John Murray, fourth earl of Dunmore) dissolved the House of Burgesses in an effort to retain Royal control of the colony.

After Patrick Henry gave his “Give me Liberty, or give me Death!” speech on March 23, 1775, at the Second Virginia Convention, Dunmore became concerned. Among the delegates to the convention were future U.S. Presidents Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. The conventions would serve as a revolutionary provisional government until the establishment of the independent Commonwealth of Virginia in 1776.

Read Article

Sarah Strong

Wife of Massachusetts Founding Father Caleb Strong

Sarah Hooker was born on January 30, 1758, in Northampton, Massachusetts, the daughter of Reverend John Hooker and Sarah Worthington Hooker. Caleb Strong was born in Northampton, Massachusetts, on January 9, 1745, the only son of Lt. Caleb Strong and Phebe Lyman Strong. Caleb’s ancestor, the Elder John Strong, who settled in Northampton in 1659, established a tannery and became a leading citizen in the affairs of the town and of the church. The Strong tannery was inherited by Caleb’s father.

Caleb Strong graduated from Harvard College with highest honors in 1764, then studied law with the eminent Judge Joseph Hawley. Strong returned to Northampton and opened a practice in 1772.

Read Article

Mary Dowd

North Carolina Loyalist

Image: Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge

“King George and Broadswords!” shouted Loyalist forces as they charged toward Moores Creek Bridge on February 27, 1776. Just beyond the bridge nearly a thousand North Carolina Patriots waited quietly with cannons and muskets poised to fire.

Everyone who lived in the colonies was part of the war for independence. North Carolina women contributed and suffered much on both sides. At that time, the population of North Carolina was mostly rural. Men lived with their wives and families on farms. Like women everywhere in those days, all the women in the household had established roles within the family. A woman’s life centered on her family and home – cooking, washing clothes, sewing, caring for children and the sick, and tending gardens.

Read Article