Conger presented “Sally Franklin Bache: Learning from the Past or Charting a New Course?” at the Fifth Annual Sons of the American Revolution Conference, whose theme this year was “Women in the Era of the American Revolution,” Williamsburg, Virginia, June 20, 2014. Publication of the conference papers (which were pre-circulated and discussed at length at the venue) in a peer-reviewed edited volume is expected in 2015.
Her paper explored the different ways the Deborah Franklin and her daughter Sally Franklin Bache experienced the Revolution across generations and revealed a more nuanced picture of the American Revolution in women’s lives. Deborah Franklin was forced to turn her house into a fortress during a raid on it in the midst of the Stamp Act crisis. She was briefly engaged in the revolutionary cause, but shortly thereafter politics faded from her world. Twelve years later that same house came under attack when the British occupied Philadelphia. Sally Franklin Bache fled the city, but upon her return became prominent as the leader of the Ladies Association of Philadelphia. Not only was the revolution they experienced at different phases, they were different ages and at different life cycle points when events interrupted their lives. The elder Franklin bore her trauma without becoming overtly politically active or assuming the mantle of patriot. The trauma the younger Franklin bore politicized her—and turned her into an active patriot. This paper examined how the contingencies of time and demographics determined women’s revolutionary activities. It explored whether Sally Franklin Bache simply stepped into her mother’s shoes or whether she redefined a woman’s political role—or both.