Esther de Berdt

Having the Fourth of July follow right on the heels of the Supreme Court’s two recent decisions regarding Planned Parenthood and Hobby Lobby caused some serious cognitive dissonance for me. While I’ve been a bit conflicted about Independence Day for a while – jingoism! but fireworks! but nationalism! but barbecues! – this year I felt for the first time like I might be at odds not only with the overly bombastic celebration of the holiday but also with the culture and country at which it was directed.

Which is, paradoxically perhaps, part of why I was so excited to answer Cool Chicks from History’s call to draw a woman from the American Revolution. Because Esther de Berdt, the woman I was assigned, really did believe in the ferocious hope that America somehow seemed to capture. A recent immigrant, de Berdt threw herself into the patriot’s cause; she founded the Ladies Association of Philadelphia, the largest women’s organization of the American Revolution. Together these women raised over $7,000, which they used to sew over 2,000 shirts for soldiers.