The best books that feature strong women in 18th century America

The Books I Picked & Why

My Dear Hamilton: A Novel of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton

By Stephanie Dray, Laura Kamoie

My Dear Hamilton: A Novel of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton

Why this book?

The good girl who marries the rogue is a common theme—but it’s even more enticing when the main characters are well-known figures from American history. I appreciated seeing Alexander Hamilton from Eliza Schuyler Hamilton’s perspective and learning about her intellect, her accomplishments, and her efforts to hold her family together while supporting the cause of liberty. I cried at the last scene. A fascinating, intimate portrait of a great lady. 


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Revolutionary

By Alex Myers

Revolutionary

Why this book?

The American Revolution required the blood, fortune, and commitment of its supporters. Deborah Sampson was a young woman who had no fortune to give, but she had grit, determination, and the strength to fight for her country. Tired of the oppressive societal rules for women, Deborah dresses as a man and uses an assumed name to enlist in the army. Though Deborah Sampson was a real person, the author in this novel explores not just the societal motivations that drove her to assume a man’s identity, but also explores what life could be like for a woman who could cast off the strictures of her assigned gender and write her own rules.


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America's First Daughter

By Stephanie Dray, Laura Kamoie

America's First Daughter

Why this book?

This novel traces the life of Patsy Jefferson Randolph, Thomas Jefferson’s eldest daughter, and highlights the disparity between status and power for women. Though a member of one of the nation’s most illustrious families, Patsy’s life alternates between glittering and nightmarish. She is tethered to her fragile and flawed father throughout her life, enemies with his mistress, Sally Hemings, who is technically Patsy’s aunt. Readers will admire her strength as she faces one tragedy after another, and mourn for the lost happiness she should have enjoyed. 


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The Indigo Girl

By Natasha Boyd

The Indigo Girl

Why this book?

This book is based on the life of Eliza Lucas Pinkney, a strong-willed girl who, at age sixteen, takes over management of her father’s plantations in the sea islands near Charleston, South Carolina. Despite all odds, she not only succeeds at running the plantations but also cultivates the first crop of indigo in the United States. The author takes a progressive look at the relationship between plantation owners and their enslaved peoples. Eliza defies the odds again and again in the face of sabotage and disasters. Her place in American history may have been “mother of patriots” but she accomplished extraordinary things in her youth.


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Bound

By Sally Cabot Gunning

Bound

Why this book?

Bound is set in the years prior to the American Revolution, and highlights the difficulties faced by girls and women indentured servants. Alice and her family set out for America from England, but when her mother and brothers die during the voyage, Alice’s father decides he cannot keep her and sells her as an indentured servant upon reaching Boston. Alice should have had a middle-class upbringing, but instead, she becomes chattel. The scenes of abuse in this book are stark, but it helps to shed light on the sufferings of the disenfranchised and the helpless. Alice’s determination will inspire.


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