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Mercy (Otis) Warren

By David Streater, Ph.D.

Burke CountyDavid Streater Burke County foundation forward charters of freedom


This is an American history educational moment of those who made a difference during the Revolutionary War era and how they served our Country.

Mercy (Otis) Warren was born on September 14, 1728, in Barnstable, Massachusetts, and was the third of 13 children.  Mercy and James Warren married in 1754 and had five sons.  Mercy came from a family of wealth and prominence.  Men in her nuclear and extended families were powerful in the justice, military, and political communities.  In addition, her family connections gave Mercy singular access to relatives and others in influential positions.

Because of social and family mores during the Revolutionary War era, girls were not afforded an education.  Nonetheless, Mercy’s privileged social status allowed her to be tutored at home by her father, brothers, and others who were Harvard and Yale University, graduates.  Mercy was taught critical thinking by her family’s questioning the divine rights of royals and studying the philosophy of Locke, Hume, and Kant.  She also developed a curiosity for civics, ancient history, and classical literature.

Mrs. Warren was clever and had a strong wit.  Using her talents, she wrote plays, poems, and political discourse.  Mercy’s satirical sonnets and dramas were an open indictment of her political friends and foes.  Even her confidants did not escape her opinions and censure.  Because of her sharp wit and criticisms, Mercy ruined her husband’s political career.

Mercy had a canny ability to write on topics that were characterized by reasoning and logic.  She acquired her brother’s political work after he was severely battered into submission by a British officer, causing permanent mental incapacity.  Mrs. Warren’s talents helped form the Committee of Correspondence that opposed Parliament.  She also provided insight and purposes for establishing the United States Constitution and other government constructs.  As was true of others, Mercy opposed the Constitution until various legal rights were addressed.

Many agreed with Mrs. Warren’s views, ideas, and political beliefs, although others opposed them.  Also, Mercy’s outlook was recognized as the advent of women’s rights and dubbed the “Conscience of the American Revolution.”  Mrs. Warren’s last act of nationalism was in the early 1800s when she published a scholarly anthology, History of the Rise, Progress, and Termination of the American Revolution.

At 86, Mercy died in her Plymouth, Massachusetts home on October 19, 1814.  Mrs. Warren did not fight the Revolutionary War with guns and swords.  Instead, Mercy Otis Warren was courageous and demonstrated American patriotism and devotion using her intellect and powerful writing.

Please visit your Charters of Freedom setting in most western North Carolina counties.  A Charters of Freedom setting consists of the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.  They are on permanent display analogous to the Charters of Freedom in the National Archives, Washington, DC.  Please visit our website ( to learn more about our existing settings.

All teachers are encouraged to contact Dr. Streater for information and complementary student education materials to enhance experiential field trips to a Charter of Freedom settings.  Everyone is welcome and urged to obtain a personalized engraved legacy paver for placement at their local Charters of Freedom setting.  Please contact Dr. Streater ( for engraved legacy paver information and complementary educational materials.


Dr. David Streater is the director of education for Foundation Forward.  He is a retired college instructor and administrator, and a retired probation and parole officer/administrator.  David is a criminologist who has an acute history interest, served in the Navy, and is a resident of Burke County, NC.

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