Timeline Description: Mercy Otis Warren (born September 25, 1728) was a rarity. A well-educated woman from a wealthy family, Mercy was a political writer and propagandist during the American Revolution. During her career, she wrote and published pamphlets, poems, plays and a three-volume history of the American Revolution.
|September 25, 1728||Mercy Otis Was Born
Mercy Otis was the third of 13 children born to Colonel James Otis and Mary Allyne Otis in West Barnstable, Massachusetts. Her mother, Mary Allyne Otis, was a descendant of one of the passengers on the Mayflower, and the family had both wealth and social standing.
|1745||James Otis Sr. Was Elected
In 1745, Mercy's father, James Otis Sr. was elected to serve in the Massachusetts House of Representatives. Mercy, now a teenager, had been raised with revolutionary ideas from childhood and was educated at home, along with her brothers, Joseph and James, by the Reverend Jonathan Russell.
|November 14, 1754||Mercy Married James Warren
On November 14, 1754, at 26 years of age, Mercy married James Warren. The family settled in Plymouth, Massachusetts and Mercy had five sons, all of whom lived to adulthood. James Warren became sheriff of Plymouth, then took on increasingly important political roles.
|1765||James Was Elected to Massachusetts House of Representatives
In 1765, James was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives. He eventually took on the role of Speaker of the House, and later, head of the Provincial Congress. During the American Revolutionary War, Warren was George Washington's paymaster.
|1765||Mercy as an Advisor(1765 to 1789)
From 1765 to 1789, Mercy Otis Warren was near the center of political activity in the American Revolution. She hosted revolutionary gatherings in her home, and maintained close friendships with a number of individuals essential to the Revolution. They sought her advice and counsel throughout these years, including John and Abigail Adams, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and James Warren.
|1769||James Otis Jr. Suffers Mental Decline
In 1769, James Otis Jr., Mercy Otis Warren's older brother and the mentor of John Adams, began to suffer from a mental illness. He gradually lost his own power in revolutionary circles, bringing Mercy Otis Warren and her husband James Warren much closer to John and Abigail Adams.
|1772||The Adulateur and The Defeat(1772 and 1773)
In 1772, Mercy wrote and published a play called the Adulateur. This play foretold the American Revolution. In 1773, Mercy wrote and published The Defeat, a play featuring a character based upon and critical of Massachusetts governor Thomas Hutchinson. Given Mercy's political leanings and close ties, these plays are clearly her first foray into public writing with a political motive.
In 1775, Mercy wrote and published The Group. This is a satire imagining what would happen if the British king abrogated the Massachusetts charter of rights, and the response to this action. This was followed by two further anonymous publications, The Blockheads and the Motley Assembly in 1776 and 1779.
|1779||John Adams Drafted a Constitution for Massachusetts
In 1779, Adams drafted a new constitution for the state of Massachusetts. Warren was not a fan of this document, believing it provided too much control over the people and was in opposition to republican goals.
|1787||Split with John Adams(1787 to 1788)
After many years of close friendship, Mercy Otis Warren and John Adams disagreed over the proposed Massachusetts constitution. Adams was a Federalist and Mercy an anti-Federalist.
|1788||Published Observations on the New Constitution
In 1788, Mercy published the directly political anti-Federalist pamphlet "Observations on a New Constitution, and on the Federal and State Conventions." This was published under the name the "Columbian Patriot," and Mercy's authorship was unknown for a number of years, until a mention of the work was found in one of her letters.
|1790||Published Poems, Dramatic and Miscellaneous
Poems, Dramatic and Miscellaneous was the first work published under Mercy Otis Warren's own name. This was a collection of 18 political poems and two plays, The Sack of Rome and The Ladies of Castille. All of these works dealt with the conditions necessary for the success of the new republic following the Revolution.
|December 15, 1791||Passage of the Bill of Rights
The anti-Federalists, including Mercy Warren, were concerned with the power of the federal government and sought to limit that power. The result of their efforts was the Bill of Rights. This was considered a victory for the anti-Federalist cause.
|1805||Published History of the Rise, Progress and Termination of the American Revolution
In 1805, Mercy Otis Warren published a three-volume history of the American Revolution. Thomas Jefferson ordered a copy, but disagreed with her interpretation of John Adams' role in the Revolution. This damaged the friendship between Warren and Jefferson for a number of years.
|October 19, 1814||Mercy Otis Warren Died
In October 1814, Mercy Otis Warren died. She was 86 years old and was buried on Burial Hill in Plymouth, Massachusetts. A World War II Liberty Ship, the SS Mercy Warren later bore her name.