by Heather Blanton
As I research patriot women, I am often struck by the gaps in their stories or the way simple phrases skim over what must have been amazing triumphs and tragedies. Recently, I decided to learn a little bit more about a North Carolina woman, Hannah Blair. It turns out, very little is known about her and yet she gave so much to the Revolutionary cause.
Hannah was a Quaker and, though sworn to passivity by her religion, simply couldn’t help herself. She turned out to be an ardent patriot. At first, she nursed soldiers, apparently starting with the survivors of the Battle of Guilford Courthouse. She went on, however, to deliver food and medicine to Colonial soldiers, hid them on her farm when necessary, mended uniforms, even passed secret messages. To say the least, such activities would have gotten her in hot water not only with her church, but with the Loyalists.
Trouble did soon follow. Hannah’s activities were discovered and the English burned her farm to the ground.
Was Hannah old? Was she young? Was she married? Was she single? Did she wrestle in prayer for hours as to whether to defy her king? What about the cause of liberty drew her into the war? Did she keep her thoughts to herself? Did she have a husband who ignited her passion to fight for freedom? Why was she willing to risk everything, her life, her property, perhaps even her family, to see the nation of America born? If only Hannah could write us a letter, what would she say about the witling away of our rights today?
After the war, the new American government did manage to provide Hannah with a small pension for her service. At least the Congress was smart enough to recognize her contribution as exceptional. She was an exceptional patriot.
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