I’m about to expose the big history nerd side of me. Allow me to introduce the bad*ss war and feminist hero, Deborah Sampson. Deborah spent the majority of her life as an indentured servant, but always had a strong desire for adventure. As a young woman during the American Revolution, she found that adventure in enlisting in the Continental Army. Deborah enlisted in 1782 using her brother’s name, and served for a year and a half until her gender was officially uncovered, and she was ordered to be discharged from serving. Although she was discharged from service, her act of bravery is pretty impressive considering the fact that it wasn’t until 1917, a 135 year difference from when Deborah enlisted, that the first woman enlisted in the US military as a woman. Deborah Sampson exhibited the courage and persistence that women have consistently been embodying in the generational fight for women to be seen as equal to, not secondary to or an extension of, men.
Continuing on with her life, Sampson received no pay for her service, even as a wounded veteran. Despite fighting just as selflessly and bravely as the men by her side, it was much harder for her to get the pay she deserved. In the end, she was able to receive a pension for her service (although only by having the infamous Paul Revere advocate for her) just as she deserved. Women like Deborah Sampson who were Revolutionary War heroes shaped the Women’s Movements that still exist today. During the time of the American Revolution, strong, independent women role models did not exist for younger girls and women to look up to, so Deborah had to become her own feminist role model. I’ve always been inspired by feminist figures in U.S. history, and grateful to be able to look up to them as I do my part in continuing the fight that women started generations ago.