Americans are proud of their history. They are proud of the independence they fought for, and they even, sometimes, bury the not-so-honorable portions of history to remain prideful. Growing up in America, you learn of this soil’s history nearly as soon as you start school, but it is painfully clear that the history we learn is full of men. Men fought and won the Revolutionary War. Men fought the Civil War. A man abolished slavery. Our presidents are filled with nothing but testosterone. It was all men.
That causes one to wonder: where were all the women?
Were they not allowed to be involved? Were they confined to their homes, bearing and taking care of children? Were they waiting patiently for their husbands to come home?
The answer is simple: they weren’t. Women are scattered all across American History. This country’s history is saturated with the efforts of women, trying to make a difference. The only difference between these men and women is the men’s efforts are documented. They are taught in school, and they are celebrated during national holidays. Women’s stories are not. And it is not because they don’t exist. It is simply because they’re silenced.
The British are coming! The British are coming! If you have ever lived in America, learned anything about American History, you know the name Paul Revere. He is the brave man that journeyed through the night, letting everyone know the enemy was arriving.
What is not very well-known is that Sybil Ludington did the same exact thing at sixteen years old, no less.
Ludington was born in 1761. Her father was loyal to the English throne until three years before America signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Joining the Revolution, he was promoted to Colonel of his regiment.
On April 26, 1777, Sybil Ludington took the ride of her life when another man was simply too tired to continue. She alerted her father’s men, that were scattered at the time, of danger and telling them to return to the front lines. It is estimated that she rode twice as far as Paul Revere, ranging to about 40 miles in total.
Because of her noble efforts, men were able to march and face the British in the Battle of Ridgefield. And even though, she is often forgotten today in history, George Washington did honor her for her efforts.
Coretta Scott King
Most people know Coretta Scott King because of her husband: Martin Luther King, Jr. But what many do not know is that King was a very integral part of the Civil Rights Movement.
Before she met her future husband, King dreamed of becoming a famous singer. However, she soon sacrificed that dream in the name of fighting for her civil rights. She excelled at a young age, graduating from high school as the valedictorian before moving on to receive her BA in music at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. King was then awarded a scholarship to further her education at New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, where she met Martin Luther King, Jr.
After marrying her husband, King found herself in the middle of the Civil Rights Movement, fighting peacefully alongside her husband. Because of her family’s participation, her and MLK’s proximity to the movement, they often received death threats. Their home was a never-ending target for groups against their efforts. King also openly criticized the way in which the movement tended to exclude women while she fought for injustice.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on April 4th, 1968. Even after her husband’s death, King continuously supported the efforts of the movement, participating in a labor strike only days after her husband’s funeral. She remained the voice of several women’s right causes, traveling to lecture about those issues as well as racism and economic ones.
Because of this, King was awarded the Universal Love Award. She also published a memoir, documenting her time with Martin Luther King, Jr. and their fight for justice. It was her hard work that finally paid off in the materialization of the federal holiday in 1983, honoring her husband.
Some women in history remained so unknown that their name is not even documented. Agent 355 is one of them. She was one of George Washington’s most reliable spies during the American Revolution.
She was seen with Britain’s highest-ranking officers, working for the other side of the Revolution. She often attended cocktail parties and soirees with the British elite, though her intentions far passed simply socializing.
Agent 355 was the member of America’s first elite spy ring, though little to no information is known about her person. Though people have described her as many would a typical spy, one who has wit and charm like no one else.
Because of Agent 355, America could defeat the world’s most powerful military of that time. She is the only member of this spy ring whose identity remains unknown, and no one knows what became of her after the Revolution. But it is because of her that the Patriots could gain their independence.
These women are only among the hundreds that have been silenced throughout American History. The success and tenacity of these women have helped build this country to what it is today, though there is still much more work that needs to be done.
Simply because these women achieved great things does not mean the achievement of their male counterparts are lesser, though these women’s efforts do get buried while the efforts of men are celebrated on a public forum and in large scales. National holidays are created in honor of men while many women’s efforts are not even taught in educational settings.
Shedding light on just a few important women helps brings them to an equal level as men. At the end of the day, that is all women ask, even present-day. People are so used to men being superior that placing women at an equal scale is seen as “man-hating”.
We do not want to be superior to men. We simply want to be seen as equals. Our hard work makes a difference, and it should be celebrated just as men’s hard work is.