Sunday, April 27, 2014

First Best-selling Novelist in the U.S. in 1794

Where research has proven that 17th century women could not write, by the 18th century, many women were more educated and could write.

Susanna Haswell Rowson, one of these women, published her second novel, Charlotte, A Tale of Truth, first in London and then in Philadelphia. Her first novel, published in 1786, was Victoria.

Rowson had come here with her widowed father but because of his Loyalist stand, he and the family
were interned during the early days of the Revolutionary War.

In 1778 they were granted the right to go back to England. In England,  Susanna married and she and her husband came and settled in Boston in 1793.

In 1797, Susanna added educator to her set of skills by starting one of the first schools in the United States that provided girls with an education beyond the elementary school level.

She continued to write novels and magazine articles until two years before her death in 1824, thereby being a role model for girls and other women.

1st Female Tavern Keeper in Boston Bribed her Way out of Prison

We sometimes forget that corruption and bribery are not new. In the 17th century, even though women, especially widows, were actively involved in transacting business, it was thought those who opening ran an establishment were of low moral character.

In the early 1670s, a widow, Alice Thomas, ran a tavern in her house in Boston, the first female to do so.

But there were some in her community that weren't happy with her. Complaints were made.  She was fined, whipped and sent to prison for selling liquor without a license, profaning.

the Sabbath, receiving stolen  goods and allowing "frequent secret and unseasonable entertainment in her house to Lewd Lascivious and Notorious persons of both sexes, giving them opportunity to commit Carnale Wickedness."

I didn't find any information about it, but I wouldn't be surprised if her husband had had a license before he died.

Thomas paid her fine, took her whipping but she didn't stay in prison. She understood how things worked. Instead, she bought her freedom with a large financial contribution to the City of Boston.

Fasting to “Caft” out the Devil

Fasting – going without food for a long time – is not common today except for a few that use it to control their weight.

There are still some individuals that use fasting as a religious practice. This involves more than just not eating. It is also meditation and a thoughtful consideration of how to be a better person, including how to make amends for slights and grievances against others.

Have You Ever Fasted?
I actually practiced fasting on Ash Wednesdays for many years. Every time I noticed being hungry, I would pray to be a better person and take time to read a Bible passage. If nothing else, it made me mindful of my shortcomings and being thankful for the food I could eat the next day.

The Puritans Fasted Often
The Puritans held fast days often and for various reasons. The chief reason was repentance and reformation of life. The Puritans thought this was a method for exorcising the devil. They saw the devil is everything so they had many days of humiliation.  Calamities were a classic example. Their belief that God was always finding ways to correct their lives, something like an earthquake, bad storm or failure of their crop, meant they hadn’t been living pure enough.

The Government Ordered Fasting
The government, wanting their public to atone for what they saw as a lack of Godliness, would call for days of humiliation for the colony. “To fet apart a Day of Fafting and Prayer, to entreat the Lord to caft out Satan.” This would include a church service with a lengthy sermon and a stop to other activities.

The First Thanksgiving
Since everyone was gathered at the church, the end of the day of humiliation and fasting would turn into a celebration. This was the reason for the first Thanksgiving. At the end of a day of fasting and prayer in thanksgiving for a good harvest and the help of the natives, the people celebrated.

Christopher Durston and Jacqueline Eales in The Culture of English Puritanism, 1560-1700 state it this way: “For Puritans, fasting ‘was to inculcate an individual and collective sense of ‘humiliation’ by providing puritans with an ideal opportunity for length meditation upon the insignificance and depravity of humankind and the power and justice of God . . . . Puritans also saw fasting as a particularly effective means of assuaging or diverting God’s wrath.’  At the same time, a fast day was ‘an important social occasion.’”

Have you ever fasted? Please comment on why and how you reacted.

First Woman to Spy against the US

Mary (Molly) Brant was the consort, or common-law wife of Sir William Johnson, superintendent of Indian Affairs for the northern colonies.

Mary bore him nine children, who he referred to in his will as "natural" children by his housekeeper. It was rumored, however, that they were married in an Indian marriage ceremony.

Sir William Johnson died in 1774. His will was generous to Mary and her children, and she returned to her native village of Canajoharie on the Mohawk River.

During the American Revolution, Mary informed the British of patriot movements before the battle of Oriskany.

Mary's brother, Joseph, was one of the most notorious Iroquois warriors of the Revolution, and her 
son, Peter Johnson, captured Ethan Allen during the fighting at Montreal, Canada.

After her spying was discovered, Mary went to live with relatives among the Six Nations and used her political connections to keep the Cayugas and Senecas loyal to the British.

After the war, Mary moved to Canada, where she lived on an annual pension from the British government in recognition of her assistance during the war, until her death in 1783.

Since 1994, Brant has been honored as a "Person of National Historic Significance" in Canada. She was long ignored or disparaged by historians of the United States, but scholarly interest in her increased in the late 20th century.

No portraits of her are known to exist; an idealized likeness is featured on a statue in Kingston and on a Canadian stamp issued in 1986.

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