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Ladies of Liberty: The Women Who Shaped Our Nation

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  2,032 ratings  ·  316 reviews
In Founding Mothers, Cokie Roberts paid homage to the heroic women whose patriotism and sacrifice helped create a new nation. Now the number one New York Times bestselling author and renowned political commentator—praised in USA Today as a "custodian of time-honored values"—continues the story of early America's influential women with Ladies of Liberty. In her "delightfull ...more
Hardcover, 481 pages
Published April 8th 2008 by Harper (first published April 1st 2008)
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3.81  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,032 ratings  ·  316 reviews

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It was dry and non-fiction, but above that, it was hard to follow and somewhat boring. The book is broken into chapters for each Presidency from John Adams to the days John Quincy Adams wins his election. Initially, this seems like a great set-up until the author jumps into an individual’s childhood with those chapters, leaving the reader unsure of the time and place. I think it would have been a better fit if the author had written about the women and allowed their stories to lead into the next ...more
Oct 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
I learned facinating things about the First Ladies of our country. Some things I didn't want to know about some of the men, however.
I did learn about one woman, who is mentioned in the book, that I have since decided to greatly admire: Isabella Marshall Graham, who began the first orphanages in NYC as well as organizing a relief society for young widows with children (which she had personally experienced). She wrote her own autobiography called The Power of Faith (which can be found in its entir
Jun 02, 2010 rated it it was ok
Jill Bernard
December 24, 2008
Book Report
Ladies of Liberty by Cokie Roberts

The lives of women in Colonial America were fucking boring and stupid. This is the theme of Ladies of Liberty by Cokie Roberts.

Their lives were boring.

Their lives were stupid.


In conclusion, totally fucking boring and stupid is the way Cokie Roberts describes the lives of Colonial American women in her book, Ladies of Liberty.



Roberts, Cokie Ladies of Liberty. Harper Collins, New York, 2008.
Jun 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating insight into the every day lives of women in the late 1700'2 and early 1800's!It showed that "political pillow talk" was as powerful then as now. Social activities were much more useful to politicians than now because parties and dinners were the main way of people interacting and making contact. The savvy hostess was a huge asset to a man in office; the higher post he had, the more influence she had. Ms Roberts also shows the daily struggles women of that day to endure in order to p ...more
Sep 25, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who enjoys reading about American history
Women in history, especially American history, are often overlooked. Cokie Roberts seeks to right that wrong by giving us an inside look at the women who mattered in revolutionary America: how they affected powerful men and, hence, public policy, as well as the contributions and sacrifices they made to allow the great men of America to be great men. For instance, conventional history tends to treat Louisa Adams, wife of John Quincy Adams, as a weak, unhappy woman. But one only has to read the ac ...more
China Rusch
Sep 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
I learned so much from this book that I desperately wish I had learned in school.
Aug 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
What history book tends to comment on what Mrs. M wore or how Mrs. Adams decorated her home for a ball honoring her husband's political opponent? This one does! Even better, through quotations of personal correspondence written by, to, or about a woman, we peek into the minds and hearts of America's leading families of the first quarter of the nineteenth century. I'd never known of Louisa Catherine Adams's harrowing adventure as she and her small son traveled from St. Petersburg to Paris (in a R ...more
Cokie Robert's reading of her own book is one of the best audio production i've listened to. She make late 1700s -early 1800s U.S. history gossipy and bitchy, she knows Washington, she knows these women, there are asides in the reading, you see her raise her eyebrows as she tells us what went on.

i suspect the present political campaign, whatever election year it is, will be said to be the worst and in the Old Days it was never as bad as it is now. The president has brought his daughters to wh
Aug 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, women
Cokie Roberts, our former Mayor Barbara Sigmund's sister, paints a vivid picture of what the women of the second half of the Revolutionary War era were saying and doing while the men struggled to form a new nation out of the colonies and the frontier. We get a much fuller picture of what the men were really like as they wrote to their women folk and also of the behind the scenes work of the ladies. It was considered unseemly for a man to campaign for himself; surrogates would campaign for him an ...more
Catherine  Mustread
Focusing on the letters written by the first-ladies and other prominent women of post-Revolutionary United States, this was a fascinating inside look at the thoughts and actions of the influential women whose lives were most entwined with politics between 1797-1825. The most interesting to me was Louisa Catherine Johnson Adams, wife of John Quincy Adams.

Roberts did an excellent job of combining the history and politics of the times with the background and personalities of the women. Now I would
Jan 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Heather Cummins, Leah Walker, Cindy Wilson
Recommended to Trina by: NPR
Shelves: nonfiction
I loved this book and it's unique portrayal of political events post-Revolutionary War through the war of 1812 via the eyes of the prominant women of the time. Roberts quotes extensively from the women who wrote about current events and I was captivated. There's nothing like reading Louisa and John Quincy Adam's letters to each other to feel how real these people were and to get a sense of what it was like to live during those times. It was what I love most about history: a feeling of being conn ...more
May 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
I finished this book last night. I do heartily recommend it to all whether your interested in history or not. As I mentioned in my early report while I was only a couple of chapters into the book, it is filled with quotes from letters written by the ladies of the times and so much more. Cokie Roberts must have read or had help reading hundreds of letters from those days. Plus she gives lots of information about women making a mark in their towns and cities around this growing nation, and for the ...more
Nov 14, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
Dense and a bit dry, but thorough history. I had no idea how much women were a part of politics and public life--women used to crowd in Congress to listen to debates! I would like to read Cokie's earlier tome, Founding Mothers.

I am thoroughly disappointed in the editing. First of all, the basic copy-editing is appalling. There are dozens of silly errors, like sentence fragments, misplaced prepositions, unclear pronouns, etc. Second, the content and organization could use a lot of work! Roberts
Oct 21, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this book because I'm teaching a class on American women--you know, the wild and the wicked--and found it fascinating. The follow up book to Founding Mothers, this volume deals with the stories of American women from the Revolution to the disputed election of 1824 and the "corrupt bargain" that brought John Quincy Adams to the White House. The tone is gossipy rather than scholarly, which made for fun reading, and Roberts relies heavily on the letters written to and by the ladies highlig ...more
Mar 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was worth every minute it took for me to finish it. The history of these Constitutional women was amazing. An extremely well researched book. The details were very challenging to keep straight, but I feel so much more educated for having read this book. I loved this book so much I asked for the hard copy as part of my own library, and received it from my daughter Jennifer for Mother's Day. I plan to also read Founding Mothers, also, by Cokie Roberts. If history is your thing this book ...more
Jul 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cokie Roberts has been one of my favorite journalists for a long time now and her writings about the women of early America shows her at her best. She has clearly done extensive research to prepare this book and most of the sources are primary. She quotes letters and journals of the women commenting on a wide-ranging set of topics. One minute the women are discussing the politics of the day and the next disparaging the dress worn by a certain lady to a ball. It's all quite enjoyable. It has made ...more
Mar 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book provides a fascinating window into the lives of upper class women living in the United States shortly after its inception. Roberts' use of primary source material in the form of the women's letters renders the book particularly insightful. The only aspect of the book which disappoints is Roberts' writing style - she is overly colloquial in places and prone to using trite exclamations of sentiment that are wholly unnecessary. However, this is only a small detractor from this otherwise e ...more
Nov 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was a long slow read, but oh so interesting. At the end all I can say is--I had NO idea. And that I'm super glad that now we have contraceptives. ;)
The Librarian
Dec 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, history
I listened to this on my Holiday commute this year. Fascinating perspective on the ladies of the American Revolution--a spunky lot, I must say! Cokie Roberts was an excellent narrator as well.
It's so much fun to start this book within just a few months of finishing the first (Founding Mothers). It's like we're back visiting with old friends...
Mar 15, 2017 rated it liked it
I was excited about the subject of this historical look at the contributions of women in the early development of our country. However, I found the book much like a college textbook, loaded with quotes, dates, and locations, and I struggled to keep them all straight. Often I struggled to keep awake while reading. For me, it was too many similar names (so many people were named for others in that time) and trying to clearly recall all the relationships. Too late I realized that there was a list o ...more
Feb 03, 2018 rated it liked it
This book was kind of hard to get into, but I lay that at the feet of Abigail Adams rather than Cokie Roberts. Roberts' writing style is respectful but playful, engaging without distracting from the information presented. Adams, however, is not among the first ladies I enjoy learning about, her views being rather out of alignment with my own. I found Dolly Madison much more engaging, though I will admit that Roberts' writing style endeared everyone but Abigail Adams to my by the end.

This is a si
Aug 28, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, box-o-books
This book should be called "Ladies of Liberty: Because Women Lived Here, Too".

I was expecting a lot more out of this book, but aside from a few women, most of them just wrote letters about clothes and their children and all the things their men were doing. Not that these women should just be swept under the rug, but it seemed to be simply their reactions to things we already know about. And there was a LOT of time dedicated to what the men were doing. A LOT. Especially when considering that the
Peter Mayeux
Aug 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book provided new insights into a specific period in American history. The emphasis was women who worked to shape the new nation from 1789 to 1823. The book is well written and documented thoroughly. I thought there were too many details and distractions about romantic affairs and personal intrigues of less important women during this time period. There is a helpful "Cast of Characters" placed in categories to help track individuals in the narrative and their relationships to each other. Th ...more
Sep 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
History is gossip, and the second generation of "Founding families" gossiped about each other all the time. Cokie Roberts brings the life of Washington DC, 1797 -1825 alive through the letters of the women who influenced the men in charge. The mothers, daughters and wives of the men whose names we memorized in high school lived the virtues of the day-founding homes for orphans, founding schools for the poor- while keeping themselves involved in the decisions made that make or break our new natio ...more
Jun 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book tells the story of influential (and mostly privileged) women between the period of John Adams' inauguration in 1797 and John Quincy Adams' inauguration in 1825. The book uses numerous quotes from personal letters written by these women to tell their own stories. I found this to be a very informative and engaging book. I found it interesting to learn about how women, even in a time when they had very few rights, were able to establish and maintain various institutions. I loved seeing th ...more
Oct 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I really enjoyed reading post-revolutionary war US history (John Adams’ inauguration to John Quincy Adams’ inauguration) through the writings and lives of the women that experienced it – Lewis and Clark from Sacajawea’s perspective, the War of 1812 through diplomats' wives eyes, etc. Military history has never really been my thing, but this was full of the kind of history that fascinates me – diplomacy, perspective from underprivileged voices, cultures grappling with the major questions of their ...more
Aug 15, 2017 rated it liked it
This book was interesting, especially if you are interested in the time period. Although, at times it was an incredibly slow read because some moments seemed to be pretty repetitive. Some of the women mentioned accomplished so much even with their disadvantage of being, well, a woman in their time. Overall though, the book helped me to better understand the history of our nation and that's pretty cool. To me, its fascinating to see how people lived back then, although honestly its a wonder how i ...more
May 12, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
really liked the idea behind this book and that's what initially drew me in to it. i enjoyed it and found it informative and opened by eyes to the role that women did play in america at the time. i thought it was really well researched and it really made these people feel real and vibrant. HOWEVER, i wish that the book was organized somewhat differently so that it could have a bit more clarity instead of hopping back and forth between some women and mentioning some and never discussing them agai ...more
A nice follow up to Founding Mothers, as the new nation starts to find it's way, women who have no right to vote or own property if married, still find ways to influence and make a difference. There were many women high lighted and it was some times hard to keep track, especially with repeated names, multiple marriages, and multiple connections. But this book gives a nice over view of how women helped make this country.
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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.
“At night the envoys received visits of a less savory sort. Three henchmen of Talleyrand’s came around regularly to demand payment in exchange for recognizing the U.S. diplomats. The foreign minister’s agents, characterized in the communications to Philadelphia as X, Y, and Z, laid out the terms: an American loan of ten million dollars to the French government plus a quarter million dollars for Talleyrand’s personal pocket. The envoys angrily rejected the demand, with Pinckney famously replying, “No! No! Not a sixpence.” In the retelling, Pinckney’s refusal evolved into the more American aphorism “Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute.” 0 likes
“The Fifth Congress had recessed in July 1798 without declaring war against France, but in the last days before adjourning it did approve other measures championed by Abigail Adams that aided in the undoing of her husband—the Alien and Sedition Acts. Worried about French agents in their midst, the lawmakers passed punitive measures changing the rules for naturalized citizenship and making it legal for the U.S. to round up and detain as “alien enemies” any men over the age of fourteen from an enemy nation after a declaration of war. Abigail heartily approved. But it was the Sedition Act that she especially cheered. It imposed fines and imprisonment for any person who “shall write, print, utter, or publish…any false, scandalous and malicious writing or writings against the government of the United States, or either house of the Congress of the United States, or the President of the United States” with the intent to defame them. Finally! The hated press would be punished. To Abigail’s way of thinking, the law was long overdue. (Of course she was ready to use the press when it served her purposes, regularly sending information to relatives and asking them to get it published in friendly gazettes.) Back in April she had predicted to her sister Mary that the journalists “will provoke measures that will silence them e’er long.” Abigail kept up her drumbeat against newspapers in letter after letter, grumbling, “Nothing will have an effect until Congress pass a Sedition Bill, which I presume they will do before they rise.” Congress could not act fast enough for the First Lady: “I wish the laws of our country were competent to punish the stirrer up of sedition, the writer and printer of base and unfounded calumny.” She accused Congress of “dilly dallying” about the Alien Acts as well. If she had had her way, every newspaperman who criticized her husband would be thrown in jail, so when the Alien and Sedition Acts were passed and signed, Abigail still wasn’t satisfied. Grumping that they “were shaved and pared to almost nothing,” she told John Quincy that “weak as they are” they were still better than nothing. They would prove to be a great deal worse than nothing for John Adams’s political future, but the damage was done. Congress went home. So did Abigail and John Adams.” 0 likes
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