Winthrop, Hannah Fayerweather

“my Blood boils with resentment”

Hannah Fayerweather Winthrop’s ancestors came to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1630. Hannah’s second husband was John Winthrop, a noted astronomer and professor of mathematics and natural history at Harvard College. Hannah frequently wrote to her friends Abigail Adams and Mercy Otis Warren about events in and around Boston. In the following letter she gives vent to her anger about the siege of Boston.

Andover, Aug. 17, 1775Dear Mrs. Warren, the Friend and Sister of my Heart,—
[M]y heart Bleeds for the people of Boston, my Blood boils with resentment at the Treatment they have met with from Gage [British general]. Can anything equal his Barbarity. Turning the poor out of Town without any Support stopd and Searchd, not sufferd to carry anything with them. Can anything equal the distress of parents Seperated from their Children, the tender husband detaind in Cruel Captivity from the Wife of his Bosom, she torn with anxiety in fearfull looking for and expectation of Vengeance from the obdurate heart of a Tyrant supported by wicked advisers. Can Merciful Heaven look on these things and not interpose. Is there not a day of retribution on hand! Should these things continue what a horrid Prospect would a Severe Winter afford and how many must fall a Sacrifice to the unrelenting rigours of Cold and Want. . . .

I now write from the Solitude of Andover and tho reduced to humble life yet by no means is my firm persuasion staggered in the glorious Cause we are Struggling in, the Cause of Virtue truth and justice. Your Faith that the united Efforts will be Blest with Success animates me. I catch a spark of that heavenly Flame which invigorates your breast knowing your Faith has a permanent Foundation and your acquaintance with those in the Cabinet must enable you to form a better Judgment than those who have not those advantages. After I have made an apology for this Scrawl hope you will consent I should finish it with my sincere regards to Coll. Warren. I subscribe your Ever Affectionate,
Hannah Winthrop

The letter is from the Warren-Adams Letters, Vol. I (Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 1917), pages 103-04. Hannah’s portrait is by John Singleton Copley (1773); it is at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. See another post by Hannah Winthrop HERE.

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