J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Meeting Prudence Wright

As I said yesterday, I think there are dubious details in some versions of the story of local women stopping a Loyalist (or two) at the bridge in Pepperell. But there’s no doubt about the political fervor of the woman remembered as their leader, Prudence Wright. We don’t need family lore set down decades after the Revolution to see evidence of that.

On 14 July 1774, town records say, Wright gave birth to a son whom she and her husband David named Liberty. Unfortunately, that child didn’t live long: he died on 11 March 1775. (His parents would give the same name to their next baby boy, born in 1778, and this one lived until 1877.)

July was after the Boston Port Bill and Massachusetts Government Act had taken effect, but before the countryside began to mobilize against the royal government. The court-closings and county conventions would start the next month, the Massachusetts Provincial Congress and new militia elections that fall. In giving their baby such an obviously political name, the Wrights were on the cutting edge of resistance.

I understand that Eleanor Gavazzi has researched Prudence Wright in depth as a student at Fitchburg State and as head of Groton’s D.A.R. chapter, which bears Wright’s name and erected the grave marker above a century ago. Gavazzi provided background material for an article on the Pepperell bridge incident that Colonial Williamsburg magazine published in 2006 (unfortunately, not one of the articles available online) and for this Saturday’s reenactment. Gavazzi gives talks about Wright and her world to school and civic groups.

1 comment:

Heather said...

Great blog. I am on a journey to discover what about the "idea" of America made those ladies risk everything -- their lives, sometimes the lives of their families. Clearly, for Prudence, to live without liberty, under the oppressive hand of tyranny, was not acceptable and she believed America was a shining city on a hill. I'll link your blog to mine!