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Where we've been, The Forgotten Americans: Part 2

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posted on May, 28 2015 @ 09:03 PM
Where we’ve been,
The Forgotten Americans: Part 2
Deborah Samson
A.K.A Robert Shurtliff

Should a man and woman be compared as equals? Throughout history there have been times when that scenario has been put to the test. Women have always been viewed as a companion for man until just within the past couple of decades if we are to be truly honest. Religion and physical strength have played the driving force in this mindset. We are different there is no doubt about this. Our general makeup and reproductive system tells us so. But the question is, as a species that continually produces two types of human beings, what then except for the parts between our legs really separates us? If given the same materials equally and a task or a decision to make, and both male and female were dissociated from each other yet still produce an outcome of the same results would that be considered equal? What if America herself was on the line, and it was not the pen but the gunpowder and lead that would decide success? Could a woman produce the same results as a man…on the battlefield? The short story of our nation’s “First Woman Soldier” should settle any doubts.

“I have been induced to enquire her situation, and character, since she quit the male habit, and soldiers uniform; for the more decent apparel of her own gender...humanity and justice obliges me to say, that every person with whom I have conversed about her, and it is not a few, speak of her as a woman with handsome talents, good morals, a dutiful wife, and an affectionate parent." -Paul Revere

Deborah Samson Gannet was born in Plympton, Massachusetts a week before Christmas Day in 1760 to two direct descendants of the Mayflower. She was brought up living in multiple homes of close family and friends and had the insight to self-educate herself along the way and became a teacher. By the time she reached her twenties she was a towering 5’8” and desperate guerilla warfare was still being savagely fought in some areas by determined Tories who refused to give up. The British still occupied New York City and other strongholds, and although there was plenty of “woman’s work” to do during the Revolution, Samson was not going to allow that to get in the way from stomping out a few brits as well. So like any true freedom loving American should do when push comes to shove and Liberty is on the line, she sewed a man's suit of clothes, left her farm and walked THIRTY miles to Middleborough, Massachusetts. Upon arrival she enlisted in Captain George Webb's Light Infantry Company, 4th Regiment, Massachusetts Continental Line under the assumed name of Robert Shurtliff, a name she made up.

Robert Shurtliff was considered an outstanding soldier and during one of the many skirmishes that Shurtliff/Samson was said to have demonstrated “his” courage, strength, loyalty and fighting skill over and over again, on July 3, 1782, outside Tarrytown, New York Samson took a sabre slashing to the forehead and a musket ball to the thigh. A soldier put her on his horse, and they rode six miles to a hospital. The doctors treated her head wound, but she left the hospital before they could attend to the musket ball.

She was fearful that her true identity would be discovered, so not long after leaving the care of the doctor she tried to remove the ball herself with a penknife and sewing needle! She was unsuccessful however and it never healed. But Samson was undeterred and descended back into battle. The 4th Massachusetts was transferred to Philadelphia, and there is a pleasant legend that "Robert Shurtliff" was among the commando type warriors selected to defend Congress in Philadelphia from disgruntled unpaid soldiers. Once there Shurtliff was assigned to General John Patterson, Brigade Commander. But she was then taken ill with a severe fever, rendering her unconscious, which was probably due to the musket ball in her thigh. While at the hospital, Doctor Barnabas Binney discovered the secret that Robert Shurtliff was really Deborah Samson. The good doctor decided to cooperate with the gallant lady soldier and conceal his findings. He took her home where he and his wife nursed her back to health. However, as most secrets do once even slightly revealed, Samson’s identity didn’t stay between just a few for very long and eventually slipped out and reached the ears of General Patterson, who then notified General Henry Knox, who, in turn, advised General George Washington. He ordered Robert Shurtliff/Deborah Samson to be honorably discharged. General Knox signed the document on October 25th, 1783, and letters of testimony to her gallantry in combat were presented for her by General William Sherpard, Colonel Henry Jackson and General Patterson. She had served for a year and a half. And, finally, wearing the dress given her by General Patterson's wife, she and the General stood on the steps of his headquarters and the entire Fourth Regiment passed in review

Eight years later, Sampson petitioned the Massachusetts State Legislature for pay which the army had withheld from her because she was a woman. Her petition passed through the Senate and was approved, then signed by Governor John Hancock. The General Court of Massachusetts verified her service and wrote that she "exhibited an extraordinary instance of female heroism by discharging the duties of a faithful gallant soldier, and at the same time preserving the virtue and chastity of her sex, unsuspected and unblemished". The court awarded her a total of 34 pounds plus interest, dating back to her discharge on October 25, 1783. This was inadequate pay so at the urging of her friend Paul Revere she began a lecture tour throughout Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New York and was perhaps America's first women lecturer. She would start her lecture extolling the virtues of traditional gender roles for women and spoke about her wartime experiences, and at the conclusion of her speech she would leave the stage, put on her "regimentals" and return to demonstrate the manual of arms, unheard of from a woman, and usually to the cheers of her appreciative audience.

Deborah Samson was considered the leader of the Daughters of Liberty. In 1983 she was declared the Official Heroine of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. This was the first time in the history of the United States that any state had proclaimed anyone as the official hero or heroine. She is a true example of what strength, determination and a little imagination can do when nothing more than gender of the patriot, is all that stands in the way of the patriot securing freedom. Her sacrifice should be a lesson for both genders, and we should be proud to call her an American Patriot!


edit on 5/28/2015 by Illumin because: (no reason given)

edit on 5/28/2015 by Illumin because: (no reason given)

edit on 5/28/2015 by Illumin because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 28 2015 @ 09:27 PM
a reply to: Illumin

The light of individual souls will shine, regardless of race, gender, creed or sexual orientation. The great deception of our time is that it needs the permission of the body politic to do so. It never has and never will.

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