Cover image for Founding mothers [the women who raised our nation]
Founding mothers [the women who raised our nation]
Roberts, Cokie.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York, NY : HarperCollins Publishers, [2004]

Physical Description:
6 audio discs (approximately 6 hr.) : digital, stereophonic ; 4 3/4 in.
The stories of Abigail Adams, Mercy Otis Warren, Eliza Pinckney, Mary Bartlett and Martha Washington among others are highlighted in this social history of early American women patriots.
General Note:
Unabridged selections.

Compact discs.
Format :
Audiobook on CD


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E176 .R63 2004C Adult Audiobook on CD Audiobooks
E176 .R63 2004C Adult Audiobook on CD Audiobooks

On Order



Cokie Roberts's #1 New York Times bestseller We Are Our Mothers Daughters examined the nature of women's roles throughout history and led USA Today to praise her as a "custodian of time-honored values." Her second bestseller, From This Day Forward , written with her husband, Steve Roberts, described American marriages throughout history. Now Cokie returns with Founding Mothers , an intimate look at the passionate women whose tireless pursuits on behalf of their families and country proved just as crucial to the forging of a new nation as the rebellion that established it.

Roberts reveals the often surprising stories of these fascinating women, bringing to life the everyday trials of individuals like Abigail Adams, Mercy Otis Warren, Eliza Pinckney, Mary Bartlett and Martha Washington -- proving that without our exemplary women, the new country might have never survived.

Social history at its best, Founding Mothers unveils the determination, creative insight and passion of the other patriots, the women who raised our nation. Cokie Roberts proves beyond doubt that like every generation of American women that has followed, the founding mothers used the unique gifts of their gender -- courage, pluck, sadness, joy, energy, grace, sensitivity and humor -- to do what women do best, put one foot in front of the other in remarkable circumstances, and carry on.


Award-winning journalist, bestselling author, and senior news analyst for National Public Radio, Cokie Roberts discusses the wives, daughters, sisters, and mothers of the Founding Fathers.

Author Notes

Cokie Roberts was born in 1943 in New Orleans, Louisiana. She is a journalist, author and contributing senior news analyst for National Public Radio as well as a regular roundtable analyst for the current This Week with George Stephanopoulos. Roberts also works as a political commentator for ABC News. Roberts, along with her husband, Steven V. Roberts, writes a weekly column syndicated by United Media in newspapers around the United States. She serves on the boards of several non-profit organizations such as the Kaiser Family Foundation and was appointed by President George W. Bush to his Council on Service and Civic Participation.

Cokie Roberts is the youngest daughter of the late ambassador and long-time Democratic Congresswoman from Louisiana Lindy Boggs and of the late Hale Boggs, also a Democratic Congressman from Louisiana who was Majority Leader of the House of Representatives and a member of the Warren Commission.

Roberts graduated from Wellesley College in 1964, where she received a BA in Political Science. Roberts has won numerous awards, such as the Edward R. Murrow Award, the Everett McKinley Dirksen Award for coverage of Congress and a 1991 Emmy Award for her contribution to "Who is Ross Perot?"

Cokie's books include We Are Our Mother's Daughters (1998), Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation (2004), Ladies of Liberty: The Women Who Shaped Our Nation (2008), with Steven Roberts, From This Day Forward (2000), also with Steven Roberts, Our Haggadah: Uniting Traditions for Interfaith Families (2011), and children's book Founding Mothers: Remembering the Ladies (2014).

Robert's title, Capital Dames: The Civil War and the Women of Washington, 1848-1868, is a 2015 New York Times bestseller.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

ABC News political commentator and NPR news analyst Roberts didn't intend this as a general history of women's lives in early America-she just wanted to collect some great "stories of the women who influenced the Founding Fathers." For while we know the names of at least some of these women (Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, Eliza Pinckney), we know little about their roles in the Revolutionary War, the writing of the Constitution, or the politics of our early republic. In rough chronological order, Roberts introduces a variety of women, mostly wives, sisters or mothers of key men, exploring how they used their wit, wealth or connections to influence the men who made policy. As high-profile players married into each other's families, as wives died in childbirth and husbands remarried, it seems as if early America-or at least its upper crust-was indeed a very small world. Roberts's style is delightfully intimate and confiding: on the debate over Mrs. Benedict Arnold's infamy, she proclaims, "Peggy was in it from the beginning." Roberts also has an ear for juicy quotes; she recounts Aaron Burr's mother, Esther, bemoaning that when talking to a man with "mean thoughts of women," her tongue "hangs pretty loose," so she "talked him quite silent." In addition to telling wonderful stories, Roberts also presents a very readable, serviceable account of politics-male and female-in early America. If only our standard history textbooks were written with such flair! 7 illus. not seen by PW. Agent, Bob Barnett. (On sale Apr. 13) Forecast: If booksellers position Roberts's book as a history of early America-and not as a women's studies text-it could have greater appeal. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Booklist Review

Political correspondent Roberts has deep roots in American political families--her mother was a U.S. congresswoman from Louisiana, and an ancestor, William Claiborne, was a U.S. congressman from Tennessee in the 1790s. Here she offers a look at the women--mostly wives and mothers--who supported the men credited with creating the U.S. Lamenting the dearth of history about these women, Roberts primarily draws on letters and diaries to document their significant contributions. Among her subjects is Deborah Read Franklin, who was virtually abandoned for 16 of the last 17 years of her marriage to Benjamin, who held a post in England and left her to manage the home and businesses. She was forced to protect their home from a mob angry at her husband's position on the Stamp Act. Also among those profiled are Martha Washington, who used her considerable wealth to help finance the revolution; Abigail Adams, whose famous remark to her husband,ohn, to remember the ladies was thought to be a reference to women's rights; and Phyllis Wheatley, a former slave who earned the admiration of George Washington with her poetry. Roberts offers a much-needed look at the unheralded sacrifices and heroism of colonial women. --Vanessa Bush Copyright 2004 Booklist

Library Journal Review

When most people think about those who helped fight for the independence of and create the government of the United States, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin come to mind. They rarely mention Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, or Eliza Pinckney. However, these and many other women played a significant role, including raising money for the troops, lobbying their spouses to fight for liberty and independence, and eventually hosting events where members of government could meet and discuss issues in a civilized manner. Roberts provides details on the lives and activities of these women and how they helped the country to survive. Though the book is fascinating, the author detracts from the work with her reading; she makes asides that do not appear to fit within the story and is overly strident as if she demands that we listen to her and believe what she is telling us or else. Another narrator might have been more effective. However, Founding Mothers will find a home in most public and academic libraries, especially those with strong women's studies and early American history collections.-Danna Bell-Russel, Library of Congress (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up-Roberts herself enthusiastically narrates these stories of America's earliest heroines with lively humor and a great sense of the important role these women played in history. Profiles of Abigail Adams, Dolley Madison, Deborah Franklin, and Martha Washington, among others, show how their steadfast commitment to their newly formed country allowed the work of burgeoning democracy to take place. Encourage students to discover more about America's stalwart women of history by researching online at the National First Ladies' Library ( (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Founding Mothers Chapter One Before 1775: The Road to Revolution Stirrings of Discontent When you hear of a family with two brothers who fought heroically in the Revolutionary War, served their state in high office, and emerged as key figures in the new American nation, don't you immediately think, "They must have had a remarkable mother"? And so Charles Cotesworth Pinckney and Thomas Pinckney did. Today Eliza Lucas Pinckney would be the subject of talkshow gabfests and made-for-TV movies, a child prodigy turned into a celebrity. In the eighteenth century she was seen as just a considerate young woman performing her duty, with maybe a bit too much brainpower for her own good. George Lucas brought his English wife and daughters to South Carolina in 1734 to claim three plantations left to him by his father. Before long, however, Lucas left for Antigua to rejoin his regiment in fighting the war against Spain, leaving his sixteen-year-old daughter in charge of all the properties, plus her ailing mother and toddler sister. (The Lucas sons were at school in England.) Can you imagine a sixteen-year-old girl today being handed those responsibilities? Eliza Lucas willingly took them on. Because she reported to her father on her management decisions and developed the habit of copying her letters, Eliza's writings are some of the few from colonial women that have survived. The South Carolina Low Country, where Eliza was left to fend for the family, was known for its abundance of rice and mosquitoes. Rice supported the plantation owners and their hundreds of slaves; mosquitoes sent the owners into Charleston (then Charles Town) for summer months of social activities. Though Wappoo Plantation, the Lucas home, was only six miles from the city by water, seventeen by land, Eliza was far too busy, and far too interested in her agricultural experiments, to enjoy the luxuries of the city during the planting months. The decision about where to live was entirely hers (again, can you imagine leaving that kind of decision to a sixteen-year-old?), as Eliza wrote to a friend in England in 1740: "My Papa and Mama's great indulgence to me leaves it to me to choose our place of residence either in town or country." She went on to describe her arduous life: "I have the business of three plantations to transact, which requires much writing and more business and fatigue of other sorts than you can imagine. But least you should imagine it too burdensome to a girl at my early time of life, give me leave to answer you: I assure you I think myself happy that I can be useful to so good a father, and by rising very early I find I can go through much business." And she did. Not only did she oversee the planting and harvesting of the crops on the plantations, but she also taught her sister and some of the slave children, pursued her own intellectual education in French and English, and even took to lawyering to help poor neighbors. Eliza seemed to know that her legal activities were a bit over the line, as she told a friend: "If you will not laugh immoderately at me I'll trust you with a secret. I have made two wills already." She then defended herself, explaining that she'd studied carefully what was required in will making, adding: "After all what can I do if a poor creature lies a dying and their family taken it into their head that I can serve them. I can't refuse; but when they are well and able to employ a lawyer, I always shall." The teenager had clearly made quite an impression in the Low Country. The Lucases were land-rich but cash-poor, so Eliza's father scouted out some wealthy prospects as husband material for his delightful daughter. The young woman was having none of it. Her father's attempts to marry her off to a man who could help pay the mortgage were completely and charmingly rebuffed in a letter written when she was eighteen. "As you propose Mr. L. to me, I am sorry I can't have sentiments favorable enough of him to take time to think on the subject ... and beg leave to say to you that the riches of Peru and Chile if he had them put together could not purchase a sufficient esteem for him to make him my husband." So much for her father's plan to bring some money into the family. She then dismissed another suggestion for a mate: "I have so slight a knowledge of him I can form no judgment of him." Eliza insisted that "a single life is my only choice ... as I am yet but eighteen." Of course, many women her age were married, and few would have brushed off their fathers so emphatically, but the feisty Miss Lucas was, despite the workload, having too much fun to settle down with some rich old coot. Eliza loved "the vegetable world," as she put it, and experimented with different kinds of crops, always with a mind toward commerce. She was keenly aware that the only cash crop South Carolina exported to England was rice, and she was determined to find something else to bring currency into the colony and to make the plantations profitable. When she was nineteen, she wrote that she had planted a large fig orchard "with design to dry and export them." She was always on the lookout for something that would grow well in the southern soil. Reading her Virgil,she was happily surprised to find herself "instructed in agriculture ... for I am persuaded though he wrote in and for Italy, it will in many instances suit Carolina." By her own account, Eliza was always cooking up schemes. She wrote to her friend Mary Bartlett: "I am making a large plantation of oaks which I look upon as my own property, whether my father gives me the land or not." Founding Mothers . Copyright © by Cokie Roberts. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Founding Mothers by Cokie Roberts All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.