What woman understands the definition of courage? Who has experienced real hardship? When life is put to the test, when wealth is stripped away, and love seems forsaken, would we still rise to the height of our calling?
Womanhood is an essential important factor in life. Although we are more frail and weak than men, the strength of our hearts can overcome even the greatest obstacle; then we are strong.
Such a caliber of womanhood is unheard of today. In a society where women are men and men are women, we don't see motherly and wifely zeal. Wives and mothers are no longer wives and mothers. Instead, they are smokers, drunk drivers, and workmen all rolled into one. They aren't submissive unto man, and especially not unto God. Most women don't even know what femininity is. Have godly feminine women ceased to exist?
To find such aforesaid women, we have to jump back into the 1700's. Our country (then only 13 English colonies) was in the midst of a war with Great Britain. The Continental Congress was desperately struggling for the right principles to lead a new nation. 55 men signed the Declaration of Independence. But what was happening behind the scenes? On the home front, how were the families of these men living? Were they living in peace, or did they sacrifice much?
The women of yesterday were strong, brave, proud, and ultimately courageous in all that they did. They too sacrificed their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. Many had to flee from house to house, always a step ahead of the British. Many lost their homes, wealth, and livelihood. Some even lost their lives.
Benjamin Rich, a signer of the Declaration, said this about America's women of that time: "The women of America have at last become principals in the glorious American controversy. Their opinions alone and their transcendent influence in society and families must lead us on to success and victory." You see, the women didn't cower down in fear when they heard the tramp pf British feet or the thundering sound of cannons and musket fire. They weren't "sissies." Their lives and the lives of their families were at stake. If the small 13 colonies had lost the War, the signers would have been hanged or beheaded. As it was, during the War, their lives were forfeit. What self-respecting women would wish such a cruel fate upon her husband? That's why the women had to fight back. They weren't wimpy crybabies.
Without firing musket, and without marching into battle, the women of colonial America did something even more valuable. Their purpose was simple yet strong: to uphold the spirits of their men, support them in every action, take care of their families, love, honor, and obey till death did part them, and remain strong and passionate in the cause they were fighting for. When they had to flee for refuge, when they kissed their husbands goodbye, not to see them for months upon months, when they prayed without ceasing...that took courage. Yet one thing must remain clear: their courage came from Jesus Christ.
America would have lost the War if not for her faith and prayer. God was with the little colonies, and eventually made them big and great states. Everyone understood the power of prayer, which explains why George Washington would kneel down in the cold and snow of Valley Forge to cast his every care upon the Lord.
The women behind the Declaration of Independence are patriots not fully recognized by historians and people today. If not for the women, the men would have fallen under the weight of all they had to bear. However, the women readily shared the burden. They weren't going to resign their posts, for they too longed for peace and freedom. All they had to do was succeed.
David Barton said this: "These women, although not pledging their "lives, fortunes, and sacred honor" in writing, nevertheless willingly sacrificed all for their country, their families, and their posterity. We are that posterity, enjoying all the benefits of their sacrifices."
To recount the lives of each woman would be impossible. (For a summary, read Wives of the Signers, by Harry Clinton Green and Mary Wolcott Green.) Each woman was important and took drastic steps toward freedom. For example:
Mary Bartlett: forced to flee with her family from her burning home.
Elizabeth Adams: supported her family with needlework.
Elizabeth Lewis: imprisoned for months by the British, and suffered great hardships that eventually led her to her death.
Mary Morris: driven from her beautiful home.
Annis Stockton: homeless after the British burned her home.
Deborah Hart: driven from home, watched anxiously as her husband was hunted as a criminal, and finally died from exposure and anxiety.
There are countless others. Take Abigail Adams for example, wife of John Adams, mother of John Quincy Adams, and the first lady of the White House. She was constantly separated from her husband, yet she remained patriotic and cheerful. She taught her young children at home, and wrote to her husband frequently. She was strong in spirit and influential in life.
Every woman from that period deserves high praise for the sacrifices they made. From their lives we see the pattern we are to follow. Instead of following the world's model of "womanhood," we can learn better from the past. Only, we have to realize one intrinsic detail. It takes courage.