A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.


Mercy Otis Warren

25 September 1728 - 19 October 1814

Mercy Otis Warren was born in Barnstable, Massachusetts. Through her father, who was a successful lawyer, farmer, county judge, and militia officer, Mercy was exposed to the political discussions and opinions of local leaders. Though not allowed a formal education, she was permitted to sit in on the lessons of her brothers, and throughout her life maintained that women's inferiority was not natural, but imposed by lack of education. In 1754 she married James Warren and moved to Plymouth. Through the influence of her brother, patriot orator James Otis, and her husband, Mercy was introduced to such figures as John and Abigail Adams, Samuel Adams, John Dickinson, and Thomas Jefferson, all of whom she corresponded with at various times her life. In 1772 she published anonymously her dramatic sketch, The Adulateur in the Massachusetts Spy. The work became so popular that it was reprinted in pamphlets in 1773. Mercy proceeded to publish other poems, plays, political satires, and eventually her definitive work begun in the late 1770s, The History of the Rise, Progress and Termination of the American Revolution (1805).