The Macksey Journal


What is known about women during the American Revolution is often viewed through the lens of “Republican Motherhood.” However, a closer examination of the historical record reveals women who were able to use their positions as wives, mothers, and daughters to influence the war, while still maintaining their prescribed roles in society. In doing so, they began to shape the way in which they would be remembered. The Livingston women, daughters of William Livingston, New Jersey’s first elected governor, serve as a case study for understanding the roles played by women during such a pivotal time in history and how they survive in historical memory. In particular, I analyze the story of the Livingston women as told at their ancestral home, Liberty Hall Museum. The Museum highlights their manipulation of British officers in support of the Patriot cause, including the Livingston co-opting of the ghost of Hannah Caldwell, a local civilian killed by British officers during the Battle of Connecticut Farms. An analysis of this ghost story, along with others told about the Livingston daughters, provides a new perspective of women’s roles during the Revolution in the context of “Republican Motherhood.”