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*** Abigail Adams: Founding Mother, Patriot, Wife and Political Advisor to America’s 2d President.


Abigail Smith Adams (November 11, 1744 – October 28, 1818)

aa61In her many letters to her husband and friends Abigail Adams expressed the concerns and accomplishments of an early American patriotic woman. Her most famous request was for Congress to “Remember the ladies” in the creation of the Constitution of the United States. It was her clear understanding that women’s influences in the domestic sphere were as integral to the development of a new nation as the the more public efforts of the founding fathers. Family economics, children’s education and civic responsibility, are the primary concerns of Abigail Adams. Her requests for legislation to benefit future generations included the necessity of education for all children regardless of sex or color, as well as the right to self-determination for all individuals including the emancipation of slaves and granting wives equal status under the law. An understanding of her hopes for posterity beg the question: If the founding fathers would have heeded Mrs. Adams advice sooner, would the nation would have been spared years of strife from civil war to civil rights? A conversation with “Dear Abigail”, 18th century wife and mother provides insight into the concerns of today’s Americans.

“I long to hear that you have declared an independency. And, by the way, in the new code of laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies… If particular care and attention is not paid to us ladies we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by laws in which we have no representation.” -Abigail Adams, in a letter to her husband John Adams, March 31, 1776

Abigail Adams Program Categories:
Key Note & Motivational Addresses, Seminars, & Symposiums
Meet & Greets, Chautauquas, Libraries, & other adult & family venues, Grade School & Middle School Aged Audiences

Some Examples of Abigail Adams Programming for Adult Audiences

Remember the Ladies:
Abigail Adams discusses patriotism and the distaff sort.

Dearest Friend:
America’s greatest love story as told through the Letters of John and Abigail Adams.

Taxes and Tea Parties:
The Rhetoric that spurred a Revolution as seen through the eyes Abigail Adams

Kept Apart In A Time of War:
John Adams was away from home for years at a time in service of his country, yet through it all the Adams held faithful to each other, both focused on a higher cause.

*** Betsy Ross: Flag Maker, Patriot


“Betsy Ross” – Elizabeth Griscomb Ross Ashburn Claypoole (January 1, 1752 – January 30, 1836)

br5Elizabeth Griscomb Ross Ashburn Claypoole’s story differs from, and is superior to, the myths that enshroud her true legacy. Hers is the story of a strong and independent woman who was willing to work hard and follow her own mind and heart at a time when women were expected to conform to tradition. When she was 14 she began an apprenticeship in the upholsterers’ trade. At the age of 21 she married against her Father’s wishes and outside of her faith, resulting in her being “read out of meeting”, and losing the support of her Quaker meeting house. Her husband died in January, 1776, as the movement for independence was gaining intensity. She struggled to maintain her business and patriotic beliefs during the British occupation of Philadelphia (1777-78). It is in the hearts of the middle class people such as Betsy Ross that this country was conceived, and on their hard working backs that America thrived as a new Nation.

As one of the most iconic figures of American Independence, we think of Betsy Ross sitting in her quaint colonial room, dutifully sewing the first Stars and Stripes. While historians doubt the validity of her descendant’s claim that Betsy made the very first emblem of our nation, they do agree on the less glamorous, yet more substantial facts of her real life. Unfortunately the history of women’s work was not well documented and the world may never know who actually sewed the first American Flag. Betsy Ross never made that claim for herself. We do know, however, that she lived a fascinating and inspiring life during difficult times.

In Congress: June 14, 1777
“Resolved that the Flag of the United States be thirteen stripes alternate red and white; the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue, field representing a new constellation.”
– The Flag Resolution, ratified by the 2d Continental Congress.

Betsy Ross Program Categories:
“Welcome to Philadelphia” Addresses
Patriotic Groups and Historical Societies
Meet & Greets, Chautauquas, Libraries, & other adult & family venues,
Grade School & Middle School Aged Audiences

*** Annie Oakley: Sharp-shooter, Superstar


Annie Oakley (August 13, 1860 – November 3, 1926)

annie-oakley-seated-1The most famous woman of her day, she insisted on presenting herself as the epitome of feminine propriety while putting on one of the most exciting stage shows of turn of the 20th century. Today when people think of Annie Oakley, they think of the Broadway and Hollywood image: the gun-toting, brassy haired, crass show-girl. Although she could definitely handle a rifle with fantastic accuracy, she was far from brassy or crass. The true character of Annie Oakley is complex and inspiring. The girl born as Phoebe Anne Mosey married a fellow sharp-shooter and donned the stage name “Annie Oakley”, but would always prefer to be introduced as Mrs. Frank Butler. She fought for safe working conditions, fair and equal pay for a days work regardless of gender or heritage, and for a first-rate show that presented good solid family entertainment. International fame and success came with a price. Later in life she had to fight to maintain the honor of her name. Yet she steadfastly supported the country in times of war, and put many young girls through school at her own expense. Believing that women were just as capable as men, she firmly insisted that they should strive to achieve any goal or occupation that interested them. Her motto was to “Aim for a high mark…for practice will make you perfect.” and her hope was that all women would reach the “Bulls-eye of Success.”

“Aim for a high mark. Eventually you will hit it…Practice will make you perfect. Eventually you will hit the Bulls eye of success.” -Annie Oakley

Annie Oakley Program Categories:
Motivational Presentations, Women’s Groups
Meet & Greets, Chautauquas, Libraries, & other adult & family venues,
Grade School & Middle School Aged Audiences

*** Harriet Beecher Stowe: Author of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”


Harriet Beecher Stowe
June 14, 1811 – July 1, 1896

hbs-seated-sepia-toneDuring Tea with President Lincoln in 1862, Harriet Beecher Stowe seemed to recall him saying something to the effect of “So you are the little lady that wrote the book that caused this Great War.” He was referring to her epic work, first published a decade earlier, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin, or Life Among the Lowly”. Harriet was the daughter of a minister, the sister of ministers and educators, and the wife of a minister. She believed that humanity was created under the “dominion of conscience” and that once the people were enlightened they must surely be compelled to do that which was right. Firmly believing in that Abolition was an imperative ordained by our Creator, with a heart full of grief and empathy she set pen to paper and wrote the best-selling book of the century. “Uncle Tom’s Cabin…” was so popular that it was soon turned into staged, dramatic versions. People who had been Pro-slavery were moved to tears by the sacrifice of Uncle Tom, and emboldened by the daring escape of Eliza with her baby Harry. Harriet Beecher Stowe believed that the most important character trait anyone can possess, is a strong sense of duty to conscience; Such a conscience that commands a person or nation to obey the Highest Law. A meeting with Harriet Beecher Stowe is like spending time with the best friend with whom you can share your most ardent desires for a better world, the dear aunt that you could always rely upon for sound advise, and the beloved mother you could always count on to kiss your wounds and make them feel better.
“It is no merit in the sorrowful that they weep, or to the oppressed and smothering that they grasp and struggle, nor to me, that I must speak for the oppressed who cannot speak for themselves. I hoped by such means as a lady may use, to do something to promote a good understanding among all the enemies of slavery…when a higher being has purposes to be accomplished he can make even a grain of mustard seed the means.”
Harriet Beecher Stowe on the writing of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”
Harriet Beecher Stowe Program Categories:
Key Note & Motivational Addresses, Seminars, & Symposiums
Meet & Greets, Chautauquas, Libraries, & other adult & family venues,
Grade School & Middle School Aged Audiences ages 10 and up

*** Mary Young Pickersgill: Business owner, Humanitarian and Flag Maker of the Star Spangled Banner.


Mary Young Pickersgill
February 12, 1776 – October 4, 1857

pickersgill-sewing-1-sepia1In the summer of 1813, Baltimore seamstress and widow, Mary Young Pickersgill was commissioned to make two flags for Major George Armistead, the Commandant of Fort McHenry. One was a smaller foul-weather flag measuring 17′ x 25′ and the other, a very large 42′ x 30′ fair-weather banner. Daybreak on September 14, 1814, the morning after the British bombardment of Fort McHenry, Francis Scott Key saw this larger flag in the “dawn’s early light”, inspiring him to write the words that would become the United States’ National Anthem. That very same Flag is still in existence, and remains one of our Nation’s most important and beloved artifacts, viewed my millions of visitors every year at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History.
In her later years Mary Young Pickersgill became a great supporter of humanitarian causes in Baltimore, particularly those dealing with indigent widows. Today, the Pickersgill Retirement community which bears her name, continues to help senior citizens in need
Meet Mary Young Pickersgill, the plucky widow who literally sewed the fabric of our Nation’s history.

“We, sir, are ready at Fort McHenry to defend Baltimore against invading by the enemy . . . except that we have no suitable ensign to display over the Star Fort, and it is my desire to have a flag so large that the British will have no difficulty in seeing it from a distance.”

Major George Armistead, Commandant of Fort McHenry, July 1813

Mary Young Pickersgill Program Categories:
Meet & Greets, Chautauquas, Libraries, & other adult & family venues,
Grade School & Middle School Aged Audiences

*** Lucretia Mott: Quaker Minister, Abolitionist, Suffragist and Anti-War Activist


Lucretia Coffin Mott (January 3, 1793 – November 11, 1880)

lucretia-jcp-1In an age when most women were not expected to think about issues of the day, Lucretia Mott not only contemplated them, but also spoke out on them. She was raised in a Quaker community in Massachusetts and married James Mott. By 1818 she was living in Philadelphia, serving as a Public Friend visiting and speaking to other Quaker communities. As a follower of Elias Hicks, she emphasized the divinity within every individual.
Her early sermons spoke of the necessity of the Anti-Slavery movement and advocated the use of Free Produce. By the early 1830s she had become a familiar sight on the abolitionist podium, and was elected as an American Representative to the 1840 General (or World’s) Anti-Slavery Convention, held in London, England. Before the conference began, a majority of the men in attendance voted to exclude women from participating, and the female delegates were required to sit in a segregated area. In 1848, while still devoted to the abolitionist cause, Mrs. Mott joined Elizabeth Cady Stanton calling together the first women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, NY.
Her strength and intelligence combined with a natural gentle manner disarmed her critics. Her messages are timeless. The words and lessons of Lucretia Mott continue to open minds and hearts to a simple truth: If we embrace the inner light within ourselves, we fan the flame in others, and in time mankind will come to the full understanding that all people are created divine and equal.

“I have no idea of submitting tamely to injustice inflicted either on me or on the slave. I will oppose it with all the moral powers with which I am endowed. I am no advocate of passivity.” Lucretia Mott to the Philadelphia Anti-Slavery Society, 1860

Lucretia Mott Program Categories:
Key Note & Motivational Addresses, Seminars, & Symposiums
Meet & Greets, Chautauquas, Libraries, & other adult & family venues

*** Molly Pitcher: Icon of Courage


Molly Pitcher – Mary Ludwig Hays McCauley (circa October 13, 1754 – January 22, 1832)

mp4Mary Ludwig Hays was a true war hero. She valiantly strove beyond her traditional role of cleaning the soldiers’ campsite and carrying pitchers of cold water to cool both men and canon during the Battle of Monmouth. When she witnessed her husband wounded too severely to fulfill his post at a cannon, Mary took his place, standing with the artillerymen throughout the rest of the fight. George Washington personally commended Mary for her competence and valor, awarding her an honorary rank of Sergeant.

“While in the act of reaching for a cartridge, a cannon shot from the enemy passed directly between her legs without doing any other damage than carrying away the lower part of her petticoat. Looking at it with apparent unconcern, she observed that it was lucky it did not pass a little higher, for in that case it might have carried away something else.” – Joseph Plumb Martin, eyewitness to Molly Pitcher’s heroism at the Battle of Monmouth.

Molly Pitcher Program Categories:
Meet & Greets, Chautauqua, Adult and family audiences
Grade School & Middle School Aged Audiences

*** Alice Roosevelt Longworth: Gad-fly, President’s daughter, Congressman’s wife, and Washington D.C. power-broker.


Alice Roosevelt Longworth (February 12, 1884 – February 20, 1980)

alice-roosevelt-longworth-sepiaAlice Roosevelt’s life spanned much of the 20th century, and she witnessed political change from the inside out. The first child of Theodore Roosevelt, Alice was every bit her father’s daughter, and an integral part of an extended family which would help dictate American Politics for more than 1/2 a century. Always near the center of the social melee, yet walking the tight-rope of high society with an innate political savvy and scathing wit, even as a young girl she exhibited a precocious nature that kept people talking. “Princess Alice” chose personal independence over social and proprietary expectations. At a time when ladies were expected to remain demurely in the background she rebelled, drove unchaperoned, smoked in public, played poker, and occasionally wore long pants! Growing up in Washington DC, Alice came to understand American Politics as a native. Marriage to Ohio Congressman Nicholas Longworth deepened her involvement in the Washington Political scene. An invitation to dine with Mrs. Longworth was an invitation which no political hopeful could refuse. Her table was surrounded by the movers and shakers of government. Always interested in stirring up lively debate, her seating arrangements often put political rivals elbow to elbow. As Alice Roosevelt Longworth famously quipped, “If you can’t say something good about someone, sit right here by me.”

“I can be President of the United States, or I can attend to Alice. I cannot possibly do both.” -President Theodore Roosevelt

Alice Roosevelt Program Categories:
Meet & Greets, Chautauquas, Libraries, & other adult & family venues,
No school programs offered for this character.

*** Anna: Alice Roosevelt’s Maid

Anna: Alice Roosevelt's Maid (circa 1905)
Anna: Alice Roosevelt’s Maid (circa 1905)

Alice is finally home sweet home from her grand voyage to the Orient. Her maid Anna doesn’t know what Ms. Roosevelt is going to do with all of this stuff, but perhaps soon enough she and Mr. Longworth will set up housekeeping together, and she can keep it all under her own roof. Oh but remember, you did not hear that from Anna.

*** Grace Coolidge: Teacher, Poet, Wife of America’s 30th President, Calvin Coolidge.


Grace Anna Goodhue Coolidge (January 3, 1879 – July 8, 1957)

grace-coolidge-half-sepia1Grace Coolidge endeared herself to Americans and was thought of by many to be her husband’s greatest asset. Known for her ability to carry on a conversation, her fashion sense, her love of baseball and her lifelong support of the deaf, Mrs. Coolidge was a true complement to President Coolidge’s stoic personality. Her warmth let others see a different side of her husband Calvin Coolidge. It was her brilliant laugh which first endeared her to him, and her charm would bolster him through many uncomfortable moments as he made his climb up the political ladder. Though she was not inclined to involve herself in politics, Calvin wrote of her role as First Lady: “The public little understands the very exacting duties that she must perform, and the restrictive life that she must lead.” She accepted honorary presidency of the Girl Scouts and was a lifelong supporter of the Red Cross and Clarke School for the Deaf. She also became a regular visitor to the Walter Read hospital ward for disabled veterans. It is interesting to note that Grace Goodhue Coolidge was the first “First Lady” to have held a job before her husband became President. When she met Calvin, she was employed as a lip reading instructor at the Clarke School for the Deaf in Northampton, MA.

A writer said of Calvin Coolidge: “One flag, one country, one conscience, one wife, and never more than three words will do him all his life.” A visit with his Grace Coolidge lets the audience in to see the lighter side of “Silent Cal,” to delight in the loving and supportive relationship that existed between these two completely different but mutually devoted people.

Grace Coolidge Program Categories:
Meet & Greets, Chautauquas, Libraries, & other adult & family venues

“Daily I am impressed anew by the responsibility and opportunity which has been given me in coming to this wonderful old mansion. I no sense does it overwhelm me, rather does it inspire me … I am so filled with the desire to measure up to this God-Given task that I can almost feel strength poured into me…” Grace Coolidge