Independence Day: The Women Who MADE America

When celebrating 4th of July, we're all familiar with the names of American Revolutionary heroes like Paul Revere, George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and Peyton Randolph, but men were not the only ones who were involved in securing America's independence.

Whether their efforts involved a musket or a pen, women played an essential role in winning the Revolutionary War. From Abigail Adams who provided counsel to her influential husband, to others like Molly Pitcher who manned a cannon on the battlefield, there were not only heroes of the Revolution, but heroines.

Learn about the women who MADE America in the photo gallery above!


Abigail Adams was the wife of John Adams--the first Vice President and second President of the United States--and the mother of John Quincy Adams--the sixth President of the United States.  She was one of her husband's most important confidants. She wrote countless letters to her husband during the Continental Congress, dispensing advice on intellectual matters.

In 1781, General Morgan appealed to Catherine Moore Barry for help since she knew the land so well. Barry rounded up the much-needed local Patriots to join Morgan's troops and helped defeat General Cornwallis. She became known as the heroine of the Battle of Cowpens (pictured).

In 1776, Margaret Corbin and her husband helped defend Fort Washington from 4,000 attacking troops under British command. When her husband fell, Corbin took his place at his cannon and continued firing until she became seriously wounded. She was the first woman in U.S. history to receive a pension from Congress for military service.

Nancy Hart was a heroine of the Revolutionary War whose Georgia backcountry exploits have become stuff of legend. In one story, she captured a group of Tory soldiers who had imposed themselves on her to make them a meal...they chose the wrong woman! Hart County is now the only one of Georgia's 159 counties that is named after a woman. Photo: Getty Images

Molly Pitcher is believed to have been Mary McCauley. At the Battle of Monmouth, McCauley carried water to soldiers under heavy fire from the British. When her husband fell, McCauley took his place at the cannon.  After the battle, Gen. Washington commemorated her as "Sergeant Molly." Photo: Library of Congress 532935

Esther de Berdt Reed led the largest women’s organization of the American Revolution called Ladies of Philadelphia and wrote “The Sentiments of an American Woman,” calling women to action. The organization raised an incredible amount of money; when she wrote Gen. Washington, he suggested the money be put towards clothing for soldiers. Photo: Getty Images

Nanyehi (English name Nancy Ward) was a powerful Cherokee woman who believed in peaceful coexistence with the European-Americans. She continuously warned American soldiers of Britsh attacks in order to prevent retaliations against her people and even sent food to the starving militia.

Phyllis Wheatley was the first published African-American poet who wrote poems about patriotism, battles, and the greatness of America. Even George Washington praised her work. Photo: Library of Congress 3a40394

Hannah Arnett prevented a group of Elizabethtown men from proclaiming their loyalty to Great Britain in exchange for “protection of life and property.” She charged into the meeting calling the men cowards, even as her husband tried to get her to leave the room. The men resolved to stay true to the revolutionary cause. Photo:

Martha Bratton was a loyal patriot known for her heroism in bravely defying the commands of British troops, proclaiming: "Let the consequence be what it will, I glory in having prevented the mischief contemplated by the cruel enemies of my country". Photo:

Lydia Darragh crossed British lines during the British occupation of Philadelphia.  She delivered information to George Washington and the Continental Army warning them of a pending British attack. Photo: Library of Congress

Sybil Ludington became famous for her night ride on April 26, 1777 to alert American colonial forces to the approach of the British. Her action was similar to that performed by Paul Revere, but she rode twice as long at only 16 years old!

When British soldiers overtook her beautiful home in Mt. Joseph, South Carolinda, Rebecca Motte did not hesitate to burn her own home down, pushing the British out and allowing the Patriots to move in.

Working in the upholstery business repairing uniforms and making tents and blankets and stuffed paper tube cartridges for the Continental Army, it's believed that Betsy Ross also sewed together the first American flag. Photo: Library of Congress cph.3g02998

During the years before the American Revolution, Mercy Otis Warren published poems and plays that urged colonists to resist British infringements on colonial rights and liberties. In 1788, she issued a pamphlet that advocated the inclusion of a Bill of Rights. Photo: ABC Gallery

Prudence Wright was a militia commander during the American Revolutionary War. Wright was elected by the townsfolk to command a women's militia known as the Mrs. David Wright's Guard.

It's said that in 1782 when Betty Zane's family was under siege in Fort Henry by American Indian allies of the British, Zane volunteered to retrieve more gun powder. Because she was a woman, the enemy let her pass. Photo: Library of Congress