March 4, 2024
Mercy Otis Warren by John Singleton Copley

Pictured: Mercy Otis Warren portrait by John Singleton Copley. Museum of Fine Arts-Boston.

By Kelley Blake

On this very day, 250 years ago . . .

Members of Britain’s House of Commons debated ways to punish the Bostonians for their Tea Party.  Many Bostonians worried about retribution, but few fully imagined the forms it would take. For women in Boston and throughout the colonies, the coming discord would bring upheaval and devastation, but also unimagined opportunities to contribute to the national story.

Poems by Mercy Otis Warren

In early March 1774, Mercy Otis Warren shared her new “Poem on the Boston Tea Party, 27 February 1774” with friend Abigail Adams. While Mercy Warren may still be less well known outside New England, her intellectual support of her husband, Massachusetts legislator James Warren, and her revolutionary writings helped win a war. The “Tea Party” poem demonstrated the prized classical education she acquired from self-education and by sitting in on her brothers’ tutorial sessions. 

Warren’s words in “Tea Party” recognized the unique power of women: “females have their influence over Kings, not wives nor mistresses were useless things.”  Though she used extensive Roman mythology in the poem, she was direct as needed:

. . . Victry [sic] sings

 In spite of Heroes, demi Gods, And kings.

She bids Defiance: to the servile train,

Alexa Coastal Country 300

The pimps, and sicophants, of G[eorg]es Reign. 

Mercy Otis Warren

Mercy Warren knew the Tea Party heroes who had “o’er the broad deep poured out a Pandora’s Box” would soon be targeted. She was right.  On March 25, Parliament passed an act to CLOSE the port of Boston. British lawmakers expected quick concessions from the “troublemakers” and doubted Massachusetts would be supported by the other colonies.  If only they had truly considered what the tea leaves had to say.   

You can read Mercy Warren’s entire poem at Join WESR on the 4th of each month to learn more about Virginia and the Shore’s role in the War for Independence.  Get ready for the Revolutionary Shore!  


“Inborn Strength”- Accomack County Women in the American Revolution (Part I) with Kellee Green Blake on March 26 at 6:30, Eastern Shore Heritage Center, 24313 Bennett Street, Parksley, VA ( 

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