Over this holiday weekend, we’ll all be paying homage to the brave men who helped create and shape our nation. And while there’s of course lots to celebrate about those famous Founding Fathers, we should also take a minute to recognize some of the most badass women in all of history who fought side by side (sometimes literally) for America’s freedom.
They were fierce, ferocious, and are totally not forgotten.
1. Abigail Adams
Easily one of the most famous women in American history since she wrote many letters back and forth to her husband, John Adams, including her most famous line to “remember the ladies.” When her husband became the second President of a young United States, she was so politically active as First Lady people called her “Mrs. President.”
Modern-day theme song: “Who run the world (Girls)”
2. Martha Washington
Her husband (and last name) are basically synonymous with the American Revolution, but she was pretty impressive in her own right. Widowed at 25 with four young children, she met and married a young (and I’m sure totally charming) George Washington who she would support in every way possible through the rest of his life, including visiting troops on the battlefield to keep spirits up when he couldn’t be there.
Modern-day mantra: “I got your back, bae.”
3. Mary Ludwig Hays aka “Molly Pitcher”
In the battles that raged between 1777-1778, Mary Hays (who was married to artilleryman William Hays) would bring water to the overheated and exhausted men while they fought. While her nick name, “Molly Pitcher” may be just folklore (Molly was a common nickname back then and a lot of sweaty, battle weary guys would call out for “Molly! Pitcher!”) she definitely had one major act of bravery. During the Battle of Monmouth in 1778, her husband was injured and she picked up his place working at the cannon. She apparently had a musket or cannon ball fly through her legs and tear off the bottom of her skirt to which she just shrugged and said, “Well, that could have been worse,” then went back to swabbing and loading the cannon.
Modern-day theme song: “Shake it off.”
4. Deborah Sampson
This revolutionary warrior was one of a handful of documented women who disguised herself as a man (named Robert Shurtleff) so she could serve in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. She was wounded in 1982 after serving 17 months and was honorably discharged. In her later years, she would give lectures recounting her war experiences and discussing gender equality.
Modern-day TV character: Arya Stark
5. Phillis Wheatley
One of the most prominent and talented poets during the revolution, she also happened to be the first African-American female published poet. Brought to America as a slave, she was educated at a young age by her progressive owners who both recognized and supported her talent and eventually emancipated her. She was such a good writer, she got major praise from some of the biggest names in young America including George Washington himself.
Modern-day lyric: “I am not a word. I am not a line. I am not a girl that can ever be defined.”
6. Mercy Otis Warren
A talented writer and propagandist, she helped shape young American philosophy. Her volumes of the history of the war were so awesome, Thomas Jefferson ordered copies for himself while praising how good they were.
Modern-day muse: Tina Fey
7. Catherine (Kate) Barry
This incredible woman was instrumental in guiding rebels through hidden backroads of South Carolina so they could be safe from oncoming British troops (which she also often bravely rode around warning people about).
Modern-day TV character: Daenerys Targaryen
8. Sybil Ludington
Remember that guy Paul Revere who rode a long distance at night to warn Americans about the British? Yeah, this badass revolutionary woman did the same thing. Only she went twice the distance as he did and was only 16-years-old at the time.
Modern day mantra: “Anything you can do, I can do better.”
9. Emily Geiger
Because she was able to often act the part of an unsuspecting, demure woman, Geiger was often able to get messages to troops behind enemy lines. One time, she was captured by the British and questioned. When they weren’t looking, she tore up the message she was carrying and ate it, so there was no evidence she was doing anything wrong. They let her go about her way and she still delivered the message to its recipient because she had it memorized.
Modern-day comic book/movie/TV character: Peggy Carter
10. Mary Katherine Goddard
This editor and publisher was the first to publish a history-changing document known as The Declaration of Independence with all its Founding Father signatures’ glory in 1777. She did so while serving as Postmaster, a position she was given by none other than Benjamin Franklin himself (which she made her likely to be the first woman ever appointed to a public government office).
Modern-day movie character: Hermione Granger