Gender in Crisis: "Women of '76, Molly Pitcher, the Heroine of Monmouth" and the Woman's Rights Movement
The legend of Molly Pitcher has descended through American history in numerous retellings, variations and forms. Oftentimes, those who chose to revive her memory altered the conceptualization of this Revolutionary era woman to mirror their own cultural and societal ideologies. The current study will examine this phenomenon through an interdisciplinary analysis of Dayton & Co.'s 1860 lithograph entitled, Women of '76, Molly Pitcher, the Heroine of Monmouth. The ambiguously gendered and sexualized construction of Molly Pitcher as created by this print will be re-located within its 1860's culture to suggest why this particular manifestation of Molly came to publication. Specific information will be mined from literary trends, societal concerns regarding gender definitions and the Woman's Rights Movement to supply explanations for the curious appearance of Molly in "Women of '76." Both primary documents and recent scholarship will demonstrate that "Women of '76" is far more than just another variation of a legendary woman warrior---it is a visual representation of the antebellum crisis in gender.
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