Saturday, July 13, 2013

Library of America Story of the Week Read-Along 81: Anonymous, The Sentiments of a Lady in New-Jersey (#183)

Anonymous, "The Sentiments of a Lady in New-Jersey" (1780) from The American Revolution: Writings from the War of Independence:

Inspired by a column and donation drive in Philadelphia, this New Jersey note (with its own donation drive) goes through a fairly standard form for war grievance and exhortation: the British are so terrible that people all over the world see that they have no principles or culture in this war; they've committed these atrocities (insert atrocity list here); the Continental Army soldiers put up with very adverse conditions and women/households should do more to help them--unless you want those afore-mentioned atrocities committed on you. It's an effective bit of rhetoric (they are bad, our boys are good, we should help our boys or else) and hence, a well-worn trope.

From an early-American perspective, I find the Classical Roman references most interesting; as is true in other early American political writing, the idea that America is following in the Western tradition of pre-Caesar Roman Republic is very very explicit; i.e., Washington is Cincinnatus reborn, etc.

No comments:

Post a Comment