Masquerade: The Life and Times of Deborah Sampson, Continental Soldier

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9780679441656: Masquerade: The Life and Times of Deborah Sampson, Continental Soldier

The remarkable story of the woman who fought in the American Revolution as Robert Shurtliff–and got away with it.

Serving for seventeen months during the period between the British surrender at Yorktown and the signing of the final treaty, a time when peace was far from secure, Deborah Sampson accomplished her deception by becoming an outstanding soldier. Alfred Young shows us why she did it and exactly how she carried it off. He meticulously reconstructs her early life as an indentured servant; her young adulthood as a weaver, teacher, and religious rebel; and her military career in the light infantry–consisting of dangerous patrols and small-party encounters, duty that demanded constant vigilance–followed by service as an orderly to a general at West Point.

Young also examines her postwar life as a wife–Mrs. Benjamin Gannett–and mother on a hardscrabble farm in southeastern Massachusetts, her collaboration with Herman Mann on the book that made her a celebrity and sent her on a pathbreaking yearlong lecture tour through New England and New York in 1802—03, and her relentless and partially successful quest for veterans’ benefits. He looks, too, at how Americans have dealt with Sampson in public memory and have appropriated her for a number of causes over the past two hundred years.

Throughout we are aware of the historian as detective, as Young carefully sifts through layers of fact and fiction to reveal a fascinating, complex, and unusual woman who lived in an era that both opened opportunities to and imposed limitations on women.

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From the Back Cover:

"Move over, Molly Pitcher! At last we have a solid, scholarly biography of the best documented woman soldier of the American War for Independence. Meticulous scholarship combined with an engaging literary style guarantee a warm welcome for Masquerade by everyone interested in the history of women in war."
--Linda Grant De Pauw, author of Battle Cries and Lullabies: Women in War from Prehistory to the Present

"Meticulous detective work has enabled Alfred Young to separate fact from fiction and finally reveal the true story of Deborah Sampson, the fabled female revolutionary war soldier. A remarkable tale, engagingly written, this is surely the definitive biography."
--Mary Beth Norton, author of In the Devil's Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692

"In Masquerade, Alfred Young adds another tour de force to his remarkable career as an historical detective, piecing together virtually forgotten aspects of Revolutionary warfare. Young also provides fresh insights into the role of common pople who made their own unique contributions to the American Revolution."
--Don Higginbotham, author of George Washington: Uniting a Nation

"After years shrouded by myth and history's tendency to write women out, soldier Deborah Sampson Gannettis real again. I feel I've met her and shared war stories as we old soldiers are wont to do."
--Brig. Gen. Wilma L. Vaught, USAF (Ret.), President, Women In Military Service For America Memorial Foundation

About the Author:

Alfred F. Young is Emeritus Professor of History at Northern Illinois University and Senior Research Fellow at the Newberry Library in Chicago. In 2000, the Organization of American Historians honored him with its Distinguished Service Award. He is the author of The Shoemaker and the Tea Party, We the People (with others), The Democratic Republicans of New York, and has edited numerous other volumes.

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Young, Alfred F.
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