Caty: A Biography of Catharine Littlefield Greene
Throughout her life, Catharine Littlefield Greene struggled to clear her own place as an individual within a society that was itself fighting for its place as an independent nation. In Caty, John and Janet Stegeman follow the life of a woman whose spirit and determination led her far beyond the domestic concerns of most women of her day.
The wife of Revolutionary War general Nathanael Greene, Caty was a close friend of George and Martha Washington, a business partner of Eli Whitney, and mistress of two Georgia plantations. As a voracious reader who preferred the company of men to that of women, Caty courted gossip and near scandal as she, unlike most of the women of her time, maintained friendships with men, most of whom were friends of her husband. Indeed, Nathanael Greene encouraged Caty to join in the political discussions he and his friends enjoyed, and at such gatherings Caty found herself at the center of the tumultuous activity of the Revolution.
Caty also came to know firsthand the effects of the political discussions. As a devoted wife and the mother of five children, Caty faced the challenges of trying to maintain a semblance of normal family life in the cruel circumstances of war, of shouldering in the absence of her husband the financial responsibilities and burdens usually reserved for men.
Although many of Caty’s concerns reflected those of other women of her time, her story, Harvey Jackson suggests in his forward, has importance even beyond the study of women in the years surrounding the Revolution. Caty witnessed and at times participated in some of the most crucial events in the history of the new nation, and her story adds an additional degree of definition to our knowledge of our national origins.
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The wife of Revolutionary General Nathaneal Greene - Catharine Littlefield Greene or Caty - seems to have been a more benign version of the fictional Scarlett O'Hara - at times immature, at times divisive, but also beautiful, flirtatious, witty, smart, and practical. Mostly through her letters from Nathaneal (his survived but hers did not) and other letters from and about her in various personal collections, we learn a great deal about life on the Revolutionary warfront, about the Washingtons, the Knoxes, the Marquis de Lafayette, General Anthony Wayne, as well as, of course, General Greene himself. We also learn how a woman alone and bankrupt, after the General's death at age forty-four in 1786, managed in Colonial America. In Caty's case, she had several love affairs, haggled with Congress over posthumous payment to Nathaneal, and became a business partner with Eli Whitney, enabling us to get a glimpse the early cotton industry as well. She was apparently a captivating woman whose life was full of fascinating friends, enemies, and lovers. If you have an interest in the Revolutionary War and/or colonial America, this book is well worth the short time it will take to read. (JAF)
JSTOR: Caty: A Biography of Catharine Littlefield Greene
Caty: A Biography of Catharine Littlefield Greene. Foreword by HARVEY H. JACKSON. (Brown Thrasher Books.) Re- print. Athens: University of Georgia Press. ...
Catherine Littlefield Greene: Biography and Much More from Answers.com
Stegman, John F., and Janet A. Stegman, Caty: A Biography of Catharine Littlefield Greene, University of Georgia Press, 1985. ...
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