Deborah Sampsom

January 14, 2013
By Ellieblah SILVER, Oak Bluffs Massachusetts, Massachusetts
Ellieblah SILVER, Oak Bluffs Massachusetts, Massachusetts
9 articles 0 photos 0 comments

What was a woman during colonial times? Compared to a man, a woman was nothing but a item who kept the house clean, bore and took care of children, and cooked for her husband after his work day was over. Women were teachers and nurses and mostly nothing more than that. Though, Deborah Sampson proved that a women could be a man’s equal, and that a women is much much more than just a servant to a man. Deborah defied the law to serve her country in the revolution by dressing like a male, and changing her name to join the militia. Though from my point of view, Deborah Sampson was not just that woman from the Revolution who fought for her country, and that being her only importance. She represented the women who had no voice to their country, even if they wanted to change that.

Deborah Sampson was born in the December of 1760, in Massachusetts. She was raised by other family members due to the fact that her mother was incapable of caring for her and her siblings. At age ten she became an indentured servant. In the winter she would attend school, but in the summer, she was put to doing strenuous farm work. After finishing her work as an indentured servant, she became a school teacher. Nearing the end of the revolutionary war, she felt compelled to serve for her country, so she decided to make her hopes to become true.

Deborah pursued something that had never been done before in American history. Deborah enlisted into the militia at age twenty-one as Robert Shurtliff. She adjusted herself to appear manly, so that no one would suspect her true identity. Being 5’7” benefited her appearance. During her childhood and teen years, working on a farm for long hours helped her to develop a stronger and “squarey” build, again, making her appear manlier. Deborah was incapable of growing facial hair, so her fellow members of the militia made fun of her, not knowing of her situation. Although she was a woman, she fought just as well, and was as skillful with fighting, as a man. During Deborah’s service in the militia, she tended to her own wounds as to not reveal her womanly-ness. At one point, she had been passed out and her doctor had found out that the soldier boy that he had been caring for had in fact been a soldier girl. The government had honorably discharged her, and awarded her with 34 pounds.

What is the value of Deborah Sampson’s service though? If she fought as well as a man, then what’s the difference? She did a great thing for our country, and something that wasn’t expected for that day and age. Now what happens? Well, think about it for a second. What kind of power or voice did women have in colonial times? Now compare it to today. A lot has changed from colonial periods to present. Women have many more rights, and women as a whole, have learned to speak for itself. What influence do you think Sampson’s movement may have had on lawmakers, the general male population, and woman as well? Even, if women’s rights did not change, what Deborah did must have had some effect on men’s thoughts about women. If I were a male and part of the government and I knew of Deborah Sampson’s actions, It would probably get my my mind jogging.

I would consider Deborah Sampson an icon of feminism during the revolutionary war. She flew the flag that said: “We are equals, we love America, we are fighting for the same thing!”. She fought because she loved her country, and she wanted to break free from England like any other male. She knew what she wanted. The same thing as anybody else, to have her country gain the rights It deserved.

She was as smart as a man, as strong as a man, and as confident as a man, but Deborah had to dress like a man to serve her country. Women today don’t face the same problems as they did during the colonial period. But the assumption still lies, that a man is still better than a women.

Women still aren’t being paid the same as men, and even during gym class, boys refuse to pass a ball to a female, because they think that their gender is more athletic or stronger than a the female gender. Some women didn’t even start getting recognition for their duties in the Revolutionary war until well after it had ended.

Deborah Sampson is an agent of change. She may have changed the way the male population may think about women for that time period. She is a perfect example for the contradiction of anatomy. Though her benefits to the revolution may have been overlooked, she made a huge impact on colonial society, and our modern society.

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