Annis Boudinot Stockton, Mythmaking, and the American Revolution (cont.)

Emerging Revolutionary War welcomes back guest historian Blake McGready for part two of the series. To read part one, click here.

While her poetry avoided wartime setbacks and conjured stories of revolutionary unity, Stockton’s poems did confront the violent realities of what she called “a most cruel and eventful war”. Her choice allusions demonstrate how, in her mind, wartime violence bound the revolutionaries together. Following the death of General Joseph Warren at the battle of Bunker Hill she lamented, “That heart, which, studious of his countries good / Held up her rights and seal’d them with his blood!” In 1776 Stockton wrote of revolutionary soldiers who “fought and bled to save their native land / From bowing to a tyrant’s stern command,” and honored great men dying on battlefields “Made fertile by the blood of heroes slain.” Whereas historians have noted how the war’s violence was often deliberately excluded from the popular imagination, by contrast, Stockton’s war and violence were inseparable.[i]

Continue reading “Annis Boudinot Stockton, Mythmaking, and the American Revolution (cont.)”

Annis Boudinot Stockton, Mythmaking, and the American Revolution

Emerging Revolutionary War welcomes guest historian Blake McGready. A short bio is at the end of this post.

In December 1776, Richard Stockton of Princeton, New Jersey, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, disavowed the American Revolution and swore allegiance to King George III. After British forces imprisoned Stockton, he accepted his captor’s amnesty offer. Revolutionaries considered Stockton’s decision an act of cold betrayal and condemned his perfidy. And yet, following his death in 1781, most biographies avoided or ignored Stockton’s questionable political commitment; one tribute claimed his conviction inspired “the utmost confidence of his associates and the country at large.” Stockton owed much of this comeback to his wife, Annis Boudinot. As a prolific and published poet, she helped erase much of her husband’s political infidelity in her writings. At the time of his death she praised him in one tribute, “Can we forget how patiently he bore / The various conflicts of the trying hour / While meekness, faith, and piety refin’d.” She carefully forgot that her husband abandoned the revolutionaries during “the trying hour.”[i]

Annis Boudinot (Mrs. Richard) Stockton by James Sharples Senior, from life, 1796-1797. Courtesy, Independence National Historical Park.
Continue reading “Annis Boudinot Stockton, Mythmaking, and the American Revolution”