Sunday, March 4, 2012

A Happy 231st to Rebecca Gratz

Rebecca Gratz was born on March 4, 1781, six months before the Battle of Yorktown, and died during the Grant administration. She is commemorated for her good works, but today it seems fitting to honor her for her letter-writing.

Rebecca's letters begin in 1798 and end in 1866, spanning the antebellum period and the Civil War. They provide a window into the era from the perspective of an active, intelligent woman close to the center of the nation's social and political life.

This year, I lift a birthday toast to Rebecca, acknowledging her charitable and educational contributions but especially her writings. I also offer a second toast to all those who preserved her letters over two centuries and have thereby given us a wonderful cultural and historical resource for studying America during her lifetime.

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