Mercy Otis Warren, conscience of the American Revolution  

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Mercy Otis Warren

Richard Seltzer input Mercy Otis Warren's works into this site by hand. (The old type, with "s" that looks like "f" and other peculiarities characteristic of the time, made the original text impossible to scan). The spelling and punctuation have been updated for readability.


Mercy Warren: Conscience of the American Revolution
by Richard Seltzer

Mercy Warren's portrait by Copley

Observations on the New Constitution, and on the Federal and State Conventions, 1788.
Pamphlet against the Constitution, formerly attributed to Elbridge Gerry, now acknowledged as written by Mercy Otis Warren

Chronology of Mercy Otis Warren 1728 - 1814
by King Dykeman, Philosophy Department, Fairfield University

Introduction to the work of Mercy Otis Warren 1728 - 1814
by King Dykeman, Philosophy Department, Fairfield University

Introduction to Observations on the New Constitution
work by Mercy Otis Warren, review by King Dykeman, Philosophy Department, Fairfield University

The Rise, Progress and Termination of the American Revolution
by Mercy Otis Warren

The original 3-volume work is 1317 pages long. Mercy wrote early drafts of this work near the time of the events described, and completed the work about four years before it appeared in 1805. Mercy wrote in the third person even when dealing with events involving her immediate family. James Otis (early advocate of the rights of the colonies) was her brother, James Warren (speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives) was her husband, and Winslow Warren (would-be diplomat) was her son.
Mercy Warren by Alice Brown (biography)

Biography of James Otis the Pre-Revolutionist
by John Clark Ridpath

Mercy Warren's entry in Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th edition, 1911:

"Warren, Mercy (1728-1814), American writer, sister of James Otis, was born at Barnstable, Mass., and in 1754 married James Warren (1726-1808) of Plymouth, Mass., a college friend of her brother. Her literary inclinations were fostered by both these men, and she began early to write poems and prose essays. As member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives (1766-1774) and its speaker (1776-1777 and 1787-1788), member (1774 and 1775) and president (1775) of the Provincial Congress, and paymaster-general in 1775, James Warren took a leading part in the events of the American revolutionary period, and his wife followed its progress with keen interest. Her gifts of satire were utilized in her political dramas, The Adulator (1773) and The Group (1775); and John Adams, whose wife Abigail was Mercy Warren's close friend, encouraged her to further efforts. Her tragedies "The Sack of Rome" and "The Ladies of Castile," were included in her Poems, Dramatic and Miscellaneous (1790), dedicated to General Washington. Apart from their historical interest among the beginnings of American literature, Mercy Warren's poems have no permanent value. In 1805 she published a History of the American Revolution, which was colored by somewhat outspoken personal criticism and was bitterly resented by John Adams (see his correspondence, published by the Massachusetts Historical Society, 1878). James Warren died in 1808, and his wife followed him on the 19th of October 1814."

Mercy (a stage play) by Richard Seltzer

This two-act historical comedy is based on the lives of Mercy Otis Warren and General Johnny Burgoyne. A recent biography of Burgoyne, entitled The Man Who Lost America, focuses on his defeat and surrender at Saratoga in 1777. A recent biography of Mercy Warren, entitled First Lady of the Revolution, indicates that she was intimately connected with principal actors and actions of the Revolution.

Both Burgoyne and Mercy Warren were playwrights. After the Revolution, Burgoyne wrote several "hit" plays for the London stage. In 1775, during the British occupation of Boston, he wrote The Blockade of Boston. Mercy replied with a play entitled The Blockheads.

These two historical figures are natural antagonists who should be made to meet on the stage.

Rights Crossing (a stage play) by Richard Seltzer

This two-act historical play was written for Columbia, Pennsylvania, where it was performed December 1-4, 1976, as part of that town's bicentennial celebration. The events of the play take place in December 1777 and center around the Conway Conspiracy.

The action focuses on the strategic importance of the ferry crossing that would one day become Columbia; situated between Congress in York and the army in Valley Forge. The fates of the town-to-be and the nation-to-be are interwoven, with local historical figures playing significant roles in a plausible confrontation with Conway and Mifflin.

Conway, plotting to overthrow Washington, tries to seize the ferry. But he underestimates the determination and resourcefulness of old Susannah Wright, the owner of the ferry, and her nephew Sam, the future founder of the town of Columbia.  privacy statement