Women's Role in Our Independence

Women's Role in Our Independence

The team at Chrysalis hopes everyone enjoyed the 2023 American Independence Day holiday! We most often credit our “founding fathers” for the origin of our independence, but here are just a few women whose role was significant:


Born Elizabeth Griscom, Betsy Ross was made famous by crafting the first American flag. Born into a Quaker family, she left to marry John Ross, and the two opened an upholstery business to utilize Betsy’s needlework skills. When her husband was killed on military duty in early 1776, she maintained their business and began to make flags. Her skills in designing the 5-point star and her contributions in sewing the first powerful symbol in our history were a tremendous contribution to our history.


Disguising herself as a soldier with the alias Robert Shurtlieff, Deborah Sampson fought in the Revolutionary War. Born into a poor family, when her father died, her mother sent the children to work as servants to sustain themselves. Deborah later became a teacher before she became interested in helping with the war effort. Because women weren’t allowed to enlist, she cut her hair, wrapped a cloth around her chest, and kept her identity secret for a couple of years, during which she was assigned to a scouting party with the task of marching through the neutral ground to assess the British status. She was wounded in battle many times, yet she continued to fight until she was honorably discharged at the end of the war.


Taken from West Africa when she was just 7 years old, Phillis was sold as a domestic slave to the Wheatley family in 1761. In addition to chores, she was taught to read and right, becoming a gifted poet by the age of 12. Because of her race, she could not successfully sell her poems in the U.S., and moved to England, where she wrote many acclaimed poems about the war. In 1776, she wrote a poem and letter to George Washington praising his revolutionary efforts. She also wrote other poems including “Liberty and Peace,” which addressed the American struggle for freedom from the British. In the United States her poetry never received support because she was a former slave, although it is regarded as some of the most inspirational work ever produced in this country.


Penelope Barker organized a lesser-known tea party – the Edenton Tea Party – in response to Parliament’s Tea Act of 1773 (which was inspired by the Boston Tea Party). Organized exclusively by 51 women from Edenton, North Carolina, this protest made waves in Britain, where it was ridiculed and mocked, but the response in the United States was supportive. Although not recognized widely in history, this was the first of many acts of resistance organized by women in America.

These are just a few examples of the major roles women played throughout our history. Often neglected by history books, women have displayed great courage and patriotism throughout the decades. This Independence Day, we salute the many women who have demonstrated – and continue to display – great reverence and service to our country.