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Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation

3.57  ·  Rating Details ·  5,214 Ratings  ·  960 Reviews

Cokie Roberts's #1 New York Times bestseller We Are Our Mothers Daughters examined the nature of women's roles throughout history and led USA Today to praise her as a "custodian of time-honored values." Her second bestseller, From This Day Forward, written with her husband, Steve Roberts, described American marriages throughout history. Now Cokie returns with Founding Moth

Audio CD, 6 pages
Published April 13th 2004 by HarperAudio
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Adelaide Eldridge 1. Abigail Adams, America's first voice for Women's Rights
2. Mary Barlett
3. Esther Burr
4. Lydia Darragh
5. Elizabeth Ellet
6. Deborah Read Franklin
1. Abigail Adams, America's first voice for Women's Rights
2. Mary Barlett
3. Esther Burr
4. Lydia Darragh
5. Elizabeth Ellet
6. Deborah Read Franklin
7. Sally Franklin
8. Elizabeth Freeman
9. Emily Geiger
10. Mary Katherine Goddard
11. Catherine Raye Greene
12. Kitty Greene
13. Anne Gwinnett
14. Betsey Hamilton
15. Nancy Hart
16. Harriott Horry
17. Lucy Flukner Knox
18. Sarah Livingston Jay
19. Martha Jefferson
20. Martha Laurens
21. Sybil Luddington
22. Catherine Macaulay
23. Dolly Madison, an American icon for 2 decades
24. Francis Marion
25. Jane Franklin Mecom
26. Rebecca Motte
27. Sarah Osborne
28. Eliza Lucas Pinckney
29. Molly Pitcher
30. Sarah Prince
31. Jane Randolph
32. Esther DeBerdt Reed
33. Betsy Ross
34. Deborah Sampson
35. Elizabeth Schuyler
36. Annis Boudinot Stockton
37. Mercy Otis Warren
38. Martha Washington
39. Phillis Wheatley
40. Hannah Winthrop(less)
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Community Reviews

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Jason Koivu
Nov 22, 2008 Jason Koivu rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Having read numerous biographies on the men from this era, I was eager to read about the female side of things. I should have read something by a better writer with more knowledge on historical matters.

In Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation Cokie Roberts often gets her facts slightly askew. That's not a good thing in a history book. It leads one to question the validity of everything the author says. If relaying factual information isn't the author's number one priority, it leads o
I am ashamed that it took me so long to get around to reading this book - it was given to me for Mother's Day in 2004. That's me looking sheepish :) Although I am a big fan of historical fiction, straight up history tends to make my eyes droopy - so I either really have to be motivated or have some sort of external force urging me onward. Since my online book club chose this for our book of the month, I knew this was the time to remove the dust jacket and sink my teeth into some American History ...more
Jul 23, 2008 Karen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A very slow read for me. Although many of the "behind-the-scenes" stories surrounding the Founding Fathers and their women were very new and interesting to me, they were not very well organized. I kept having to scan back for dates and names, making it a tedious read at times. There was little flow or focus throughout the book, as the author jumped from one story to the next, sometimes connecting back to a story in the first chapter. I also thought there seemed to be a lot of pointless quotes, i ...more
Linda Hart
Jun 27, 2009 Linda Hart rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
She's a poor journalist/commentator and a worse writer. What could have been a fascinating read (the title is great) was presented in a boring, sophomoric style. Her prose is bad, the content is mere filler of cute stories of women doing very little, and she doesn't stay on the subject. Those who gave this high marks in their review surely have lost their abilities for critical thought. This repetitive, plodding clip-job is really the result of a popular hack trying to cash in with as little wor ...more
Aug 03, 2007 Sherry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2006-2010
While the men were busy founding the nation, what were the women up to? Aside from Betsy Ross, I don't remember ever hearing about women as a child (By the way, some of Ross's descendants still insist that she did, in fact, sew that first flag.) My courses in American history provided me with a glimpse of Martha Washington's bravery at Valley Forge, and gave a brief account of Dolley Madison's daring rescue of the portrait of George Washington as the British marched on the White House. When the ...more
Jan 08, 2009 Cathy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-finish
I wanted to like this book. My sister-in-law raved about it so I picked it up from the library and settled in. Perhaps it was me, but I found the stories a little bit muddled. It was so hard to keep track of which woman was being discussed because in the middle of one woman's life it would be like "oh and she also knew this other girl who was really cool so I'll talk about her right here and then get back to where I was". I couldn't follow it. It's also just so many women that unless you're real ...more
Roberts shows a light on all those women who play second fiddle to all those men in those history books and on those tv shows. Very readable. Very enjoyable. Mostly white women, but she does mention and tell the story of Elizabeth Freeman, who needs her own movie.
Nov 29, 2007 Sara rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who thought colonial women were stuck in the kitchen!
I'm not particularly interested in the American Revolution or the founding fathers, but I picked up this book because I thought I might learn some interesting stories. And I certainly did.

This book uncovers incredible stories of women running farms, businesses and families through the uncertain times of late colonial life. There are stories of women defending their homes from Loyalists, outwitting the British as spies and even fighting on the front lines.

Two famous women, Martha Washington and
Jul 24, 2009 Kathy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It is clear that Cokie Roberts (1) knows these women and their stories well and (2) likes them. It is interesting to read about the women who did so much during the War for Independence and the early days of the United States of America. Ms. Roberts has a firm grasp of history and the place of these early women in it.

Having said that, I found this a hard book to read. I suppose every writer of history faces a decision about how to present the material. I was hoping for a set of mini-biographies
Kressel Housman
This book was on my “to read” list for quite some time, but I always felt that I ought to get a better grounding in the founding fathers, ie the colonial, Revolutionary, and Constitutional period, before I took on the founding mothers. So after my recent reads of The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin and A People's History of the Supreme Court, the latter of which gave a thorough picture of the Constitutional Congress, as well as a re-read of Johnny Tremain with my kids and my middle son’s ...more
Katie Brown
That's right, my book club selected a book by Cokie Roberts.

I really liked the idea of this book--true stories, many taken from actual letters--about the women who were influential in early days of America. But the actual book is boring, and hard to get through. The book is organized by person, and not as much with a specific timeline, so I got confused with trying to keep track of the chronology. Sometimes the letters themselves can be a little boring, too. It seemed like the author was trying
Jul 29, 2013 Ellen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Okay, I feel a bit silly giving this New York Times Bestseller's author's book a rating of just one star. But the definition of one star is "did not like it," and that's how I feel about this book. That may not be fair, since I didn't finish reading it, and, in fact, only just started reading it. But I'm put off by the author's feminist viewpoints. It feels like every page has her commentary about how these "women who raised our nation" were wonderful in spite of the men around them, or oppresse ...more
Jan 29, 2009 Amanda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. In the beginning Cokie's comments got to be a bit much, but at least she did not try to disguise her opinion. It was easy to discern it from the facts. She got me a bit miffed at times with her man-hating but that added energy to my read.

The information and stories told were wonderful to learn. Cokie must have done a phenomenal amount of research and it showed. She included many letters and interspersed them in her narrative reasonably effectively.

I wish I could give
Feb 18, 2008 Deb rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history fans
Anecdotal but does get a bit dense with the history at times. Roberts said in the preface that she started out thinking she was writing about a bunch of extraordinary women but then realized the women during the Revolution were doing what women always do: put one foot in front of the other every day doing what needs to be done. They were running farms, raising kids, managing households, collecting debts, facing British soldiers, whatever, so the men could sit in Philadelphia and create a new kin ...more
Aug 12, 2009 Leslie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This was a second read. I have read enough other books about this time period that I am more familiar with the characters...who they married....who they wrote to...other names they were known by....who else they were married to......what they did to contribute to the founding of our nation( and it was significant!).....and how they fit in with the time line of events. As fascinating as the book is, I found it difficult to follow time lines and relationships due to the way Ms. Roberts presents th ...more
Apr 30, 2009 Tania rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This wasn't one that I "couldn't put down" but it definitely held my interest while I read it.

I learned A TON about Early American History--things you'd assume one already knew or understood--like how many years later the Constitution was written after the Declaration of Independence.

It also made me think about things I'd never considered--like what were the women doing and where were they while the men were writing the Constitution or while the men were slugging it out on the battle fields. (
Jul 27, 2010 Linda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I rarely read non-fiction, but this one appealed to me. And my son, who reads almost nothing but American History, was very persuasive. This was very "readable" and worthy. Well written, it paints the portraits of the women who helped shape the new nation. I had no idea they were so involved in the actual policy-making, let alone the miracles they pulled off to make it possible for the men to do their part. Indeed, I will never see the Revolutionary Period the same way. My understanding and appr ...more
Mar 29, 2009 Ann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have been listening to this book on CD and it has some good stories of the early women who founded the country. The catchy, but all the women in the book weren't necessarily mothers of patriots - many were wives. Good stories of how the women ran the farm, gave birth to children, and fended off the enemy at home while the men were of talking in Philadelphia. A good quote from the book that said that if the British beat the army, they would still have the women to tangle with! Good stories of c ...more
Mar 11, 2009 Sharon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I usually enjoy a well written historical book and this book is no exception. The author included details that were sometimes tedious but brought the women of the American Revolution to the heart of the politics and economics of the time. Reading about the Revolutionary leaders wives, daughters and nieces great personal sacrifices, political acume, economic hardships made my heart wrench. Bless all of them.
Apr 05, 2009 Brittney rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book has a lot of potential, but unfortunately, it's hard to keep focused because there are so many names, places, time periods covered all at once. There are some great stories and I learned quite a bit, but I would have organized the book in a completely different way to make it more reader friendly. The way it is now, this is a grazing book instead of a sit-down-and-read book.
Reading this is like eating vegetables all the time. Not easy to do, so I have had to take a break every now and then and read something a little lighter. Maybe I am just shallow, or maybe it's her writing style but I am having a hard time getting through it. However, I have learned a lot about the women who made the founding fathers who they were.
Normally I review books with direct quotes, but simply can't with Robert's essay of thoughts and anecdotes on the Founding Fathers' wives. Despite including brilliant African Phyllis Wheatley, Roberts' narrative is gossipy and whiny - rendering any facts suspect. An unfortunate loss to the information-savvy reader ... and to American Revolution history buffs like me.

Nancy Hollingsworth
If you have any interest in politics or openly voice strong opinions about the nature of today's woes, read this book. Actually, if you just want to enjoy great stories from our nation's history, read. History is fun. Did I say that out loud? Trouble is not new.
Aug 30, 2008 Helynne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cokie Roberts's wonderful research on early American women and their courage, patriotism, pluck, and inspiration to their husbands, fathers, brothers, and sons centers on the years leading up the Revolutionary War--beginning about 1765, including the Boston Massacre, Stamp Act, Boston Tea party ,etc.--and, continues through the war years and their aftermath. She describes the challenges of the forming of the U.S. Constitution, follows the two presidential terms of George Washington, and ends wi ...more
First order of business is to take my (nonexistent) hat off to Cokie Roberts. This book was painstakingly and diligently researched to the point of being mind boggling. It is committed authors like her that make my school assignments so much easier.

I love Roberts' style. The topic of the book is no easy one to get through, especially for nonfiction novices like me. Although I enjoyed hearing about women's contributions to the foundation of my country, there are a lot of dates to be remembered an
Sep 28, 2010 Robin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
I was striking to me, reading this as I did as we approach national elections on Tuesday, by how significant a sacrifice was made by the founders of our country, even though they had no way of knowing the outcome. They headed down the path of establishing a republic with at best a 50/50 chance of success. In many ways, they were making it up as they went along. While the men of that era are well known to most of us, the women were an integral part of the endeavor. They were prolific writers; ins ...more
Jul 26, 2010 Becky rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was thoroughly captivated by the stories in this book, about the women in the early history of our country, the wives, sisters, and mothers of our Founding Fathers, who, while their men were off at war, battling to gain independence, and setting up a new nation, . fought their own battles on the home front. These dedicated, brave and intelligent women ran their husband’s businesses, raised children and often times buried them, defended their homes against enemies, gathered protests, farmed, wr ...more
Nov 11, 2008 Nichole rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookclub1
This book was interesting to me; actually, the idea of the book interested me more than the book itself (with which I had a difficult time sticking).

The book focuses on several women in history and how they inspired much of the history of our nation. In a way it is a “the women behind the famous men in history” type of book. Don’t get me wrong, it was interesting (at times) and somewhat relevant (at other times), but it did not give me any additional admiration for these women in history.

What I
Apr 19, 2012 Darwyyn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In this cumulative book on the women of the American Revolution, Cokie Roberts tells a long-overdue story. She has ruthlessly researched and documented the tales of the daughters, sisters, wives an mothers of the men in the Revolution. From Eliza Pickney to Abigail Adams, to Catherine Macaulay to Mercy Otis Warren, almost no story goes untold. As someone who thought she knew a lot about the history of the American Revolution, I was pleased to learn so much more. The "unsung songs" of these women ...more
Apr 16, 2009 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book several years ago, but picked it up recently because I was going research for a class I was teaching at our education center in southern Virginia. I was glad to rediscover this little gem. Cokie Roberts took a look at the early history of the United States from the perspective of the women. This book reaffirms the fact that while the men who making decisions about the direction of our history and creating policies, it was the women who lived with the consequences. This book is n ...more
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Cokie Roberts is an American journalist and author. She is the "Contributing Senior News Analyst" for National Public Radio as well as regular roundtable analyst for the current This Week with George Stephanopoulos.
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“John Quincy Adams subscribed to the thesis that his mother's generation was unique when he complained to [his wife] that there were no modern women like her. Abigail, God love her, shot back that women might act frivolous and flighty, but only because men wanted them to.” 3 likes
“Cornwallis voiced his lament that even if he destroyed all the men in America, he’d still have the women to contend with.” 2 likes
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