Enterprise: Commercial and Social
Mothers do hold the reins of government and sway the ensigns of national prosperity and glory.
—A nineteenth-century minister
The image of a patriotic mother on her way to church through a New England town square, accompanied by her children, is not difficult to envision. Nor is her possible confrontation with a mother widowed by the Revolutionary War who had been reduced to begging. The importance of this imaginary encounter lies in the response of the woman whose family was intact. Would Christian charity suffice in such circumstances, or did the new nation expect more of its citizens? We believe that a certain number of women interpreted their responsibilities more broadly. They recognized the importance ...