10 American Mothers Who Changed The World

10 American Mothers Who Changed The World

Despite the popular trope that to be an important woman you need to focus on reproduction, these women have had varied and rich contributions to all facets of society.
Holly Scheer
By

The Left wants us to believe women need to champion one cause and one cause only to be important and heroic: abortion. Boil down many feminist heroines to their core, and despite the broader category they may fit into—abolitionist, suffragette, ground breaker in any field—what it really comes down to is how they’ve advanced the freedom to choose abortion.

Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate mothers. We have a rich history here in America of mothers who have shaped not just our families but helped make our country into what it is today. Despite the popular trope that to be an important woman you need to focus on reproduction, these women have had varied and rich contributions to all facets of society.

These women come from the early days of the written history of our country through the present. It’s not hard to find ten inspiring American women who raised families and shaped our culture—it was hard to narrow it to only ten. Some of these women are well-known and some less so, but all of them are worth remembering today.

1. Anne Bradstreet

Anne Bradstreet was born in 1612 in England, and emigrated to the American colonies. She died in 1672. A wife and mother, Anne was also the first American woman to be published in London. Her husband was a governor of the Massachusetts Colony, and he and her father helped form Harvard University.

Anne read widely about history and theology. She wrote poems about her love for her husband and their eight children. Anne was a controversial figure in her day because her writing about her private home and family life reached a wider audience, but she continued to write about marriage, family, and the natural world. Harvard University placed a gate in her honor in 1997, and her works and memory live on.

2. Mary Rowlandson

Mary Rowlandson published what may have been the first American best-selling book. She was born in 1637 in England and moved to America, where she married a minister. They had four children together. Mary and her three children who survived infancy were taken captive in a Native American attack on their colony, and spent about three months traveling as captives. Another of her children died before they were ransomed.

Mary wrote a book that detailed her captivity, including the death of her daughter, the murder and violence that accompanied her capture, and that though she feared for her safety while she was with the raiding party, they did not harm her. Her husband died two years after her release, and she later remarried and lived the rest of her life in peace.

3. Mary Musgrove

Mary Musgrove was born in 1700 to a Native-American mother and a trapper father. She divided her time as a child between her parents’ two cultures, and after her marriage worked as a translator and began opening outposts. Mary and her husband had four children. Her efforts at connecting settlers and the Native Americans helped establish colonial life in Georgia.

Mary and didn’t give up on either the colonists or the native peoples she had grown up with. Mary’s life was difficult and complicated—all four of her children died, as well as her husband. She spent her life working to bring very different groups of people together, and was not always successful. Mary died in 1767.

4. Abigail Adams

No list of famous American mothers would be complete without Abigail Adams. She was, of course, not only the wife of a president but also the mother of another president. Beyond this, Abigail wrote an extensive collection of letters on a wide variety of topics, including advice on politics and relationships for her husband as well as her observations about the Revolutionary War. Abigail lived from 1744 to 1818. She raised six children, multiple grandchildren, and was the first First Lady to live at the White House. She was active in politics and helped shape the roles and expectations for political spouses.

5. Lucretia Mott

Lucretia Mott was an abolitionist, a Quaker minister, and known for both harboring fugitive slaves and her generosity to charity. Lucretia’s involvement in anti-racism and anti-slavery rallies and activities garnered criticism that it was unseemly and divisive of her to attend and speak as a woman. She persevered.

Beyond slavery, Lucretia supported women’s suffrage, and was active in promoting legal protections for women. Lucretia will be one of the new faces of the $10 bill in commemoration of her work promoting voting rights for women and black Americans. Lucretia was born in 1793 and died in 1880. She had six children, one of whom died as a toddler, and the rest became active in civil rights also.

6. Bridget Biddy Mason

Bridget Biddy Mason was a nurse, midwife, and generous philanthropist who invested in real estate and founded the First African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church in Los Angeles, California. She was also a freed slave who went to court in California to obtain her freedom and that of her three daughters.

After obtaining her freedom, Biddy saved money to buy property from working as a nurse and midwife. She was one of the first black Americans to own property in Los Angeles, and she used her financial sense to help start an elementary school for black children, gave money to the poor, visited prisons, and tried to help her community in any way she could. The first black church in Los Angeles met in her home, and she donated the land the building was later built on. She lived from 1818-1891.

7. Julia Ward Howe

Julia Ward Howe was the author of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” as well as poems, plays, and books. She was also the mother of six children, active in advocating for women’s education, and a suffragette. Julia wrote the “Mother’s Day Proclamation” that called for women to work for peace worldwide. Julia wrote extensively over the course of her life and was also active as a speaker who championed morality and Christianity. She was born in 1819 and died in 1910, and at her funeral more than 4,000 people sang the song she had written.

8. Grandma Moses

Anna Mary Robertson Moses, or Grandma Moses, was a beloved and prolific folk artist in America. She was the mother of ten children, five of whom died as infants. Anna was passionate about art her whole life, but it wasn’t until she was older that she began her art career in earnest. She was 78 years old when she started seriously painting. Her paintings were wildly popular, and she enjoyed showcasing seasons and simple, everyday life. Despite never going to college she was awarded two honorary doctoral degrees. Initially her works sold for less than $5; in 2006, one of her paintings sold for $1.2 million. Grandma Moses was born in 1860 and lived to the age of 101.

9. Rosalyn Sussman Yalow

Rosalyn Sussman Yalow helped develop the radioimmunoassay (RIA) technique that helps screen blood for communicable diseases and detect the presence of insulin. Rosalyn began working as a secretary, but during the World War II she went to college on a scholarship. She studied physics and there she met her husband, with whom she later had two children.

RIA had a wide set of applications, but Rosalyn and her research partner decided to not patent it to keep it available to help the widest amount of people possible. She was the second American woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in medicine. Rosalyn was born in 1921 and died in 2011.

10. Shirley Temple Black

Shirley Temple Black may have been a wildly successful child star, but she was also active in politics, especially in the fight against communism in Czechoslovakia. She personally accompanied the new head of the post-Communist government to Washington. Shirley worked to decrease the stigma of breast cancer by openly speaking about her diagnosis and treatment. Shirley may have come to fame by her looks, acting, singing, and dancing talents, but her later life was devoted to civil service. Shirley was also the mother of three children. She lived from 1928-2014.

It’s a lie that motherhood distracts women from more important work. It’s a lie that a mother isn’t capable of doing great things. Mothers are important, and as women we do valuable things—including raising children. This Mother’s Day, do more than focus on the temporary, and remember that mothers change the world.

Holly Scheer is a writer and editor, and a senior contributor to The Federalist. She’s fascinated by politics, culture and theology. Follow her on Twitter @HScheer1580.

Copyright © 2020 The Federalist, a wholly independent division of FDRLST Media, All Rights Reserved.