Revolutionary War Soldier
Born in 1760 - Died in 1827

Deborah Sampson's family was very poor. She was the oldest of six children. Her father deserted his family and went to sea on a ship. When her mother could no longer feed her family, she sent them to live with friends and relatives.

Eventually, at the age of 8 to 10 years old, she became an indentured * servant. She worked on a farm and worked very hard. She learned to sew and spin. She could hunt, ride a horse, and even do carpenter work. She loved to learn and would get the boys in the family to teach her the lessons they were learning in school. She learned so well that she later became a teacher.

During the Revolutionary War she wanted to help, but they did not allow girls to join the army. She decided she could join the army if she pretended to be a man. She practiced walking and talking like a man until she could even fool her mother. She was ready. She became an enlisted * "man" using the name Robert Shurtleff.

Statue of Deborah Sampson outside the Sharon, Massachusetts public library. (CC)

She was tall for a woman; 5 foot and 7 inches, so her fellow soldiers thought she was a short man. They teased "Robert" because he didn't have to shave, but they just thought this "boy" was too young to grow a beard.

"Robert" was a good, brave soldier and volunteered * for some dangerous jobs. The other soldiers were proud of him. Deborah became the aide * , or personal helper of the general. She served him his meals and took care of his clothes for him.

Things were going well until she was wounded in battle. She let the doctor treat the wound on her head, but she removed the bullet from her leg by herself with a penknife and a needle. Her leg never did heal properly, but her secret was still safe. She was afraid if they found out she was a girl, they would shoot her.

Later she developed a fever and was put in the hospital. The doctor discovered that "Robert" was actually a woman. He took her to his family's home to get well. She was given an honorable discharge * from the army.

After she left the army, she married a farmer named Benjamin Gannett and they had three children. She taught at a school and also would give talks or lectures about her experiences in the war. At the end of her lectures, she would leave the stage and then come back onstage dressed in her uniform and go through the soldier's routine with the gun.

Paul Revere wrote a letter to Congress asking for her to be given a pension * . She began receiving four dollars a month.

She died at the age of sixty-six.

This biography by Patsy Stevens, a retired teacher, was written in 2001.

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From Word Central's Student Dictionary
by Merriam - Webster

(Pronunciation note: the schwa sound is shown by ə)

Pronunciation: in-'den-chər
Function: noun 1 : a written agreement :
2 : a contract by which one person is made to work for another for a stated period

Pronunciation: in-'lis-təd
Function: adjective
: of, relating to, or forming the part of a military or naval force in the ranks below commissioned or warrant officers

Function: verb
1 : to offer voluntarily
2 : to offer oneself as a volunteer

Pronunciation: 'Ad
Function: noun
: a person who acts as an assistant

Pronunciation: 'pen-chən
Function: noun
: a sum paid regularly to a person especially following retirement or to surviving dependents

22818: Revolutionary War Revolutionary War
By Teacher Created Resources

Thematic Units from Teacher Created Materials are literature based, cross-curricular, and ready to use. They provide activities, many of them hands-on, for all areas of the curriculum, including math, science, language arts, social studies, physical education, art, and music.

Each book offers two or more literature-based units and lesson plans plus cross-curricular activities and worksheets, a culminating activity, management ideas, and a bibliography. The books used in this unit (that will need to be purchased or borrowed) are--Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes and The Fighting Ground by Avi.

Complete and comprehensive, these reproducible units are designed with student interest and teacher usability in mind. The planning is complete. 80 pages, softcover. Grades 5-8.

45331X: Glory, Passion, and Principle: The Story of Eight Remarkable Women at the Core of the American Revolution Glory, Passion, and Principle: The Story of Eight Remarkable Women at the Core of the American Revolution
By Melissa Lukeman Bohrer / Simon & Schuster

Much has been written of the brave deeds, acts of heroism, and intellectual prowess of the men who drafted the Declaration of Independence over two hundred years ago, yet almost no attention has been paid to the extraordinary women of that time -- women who helped found our nation with courage, sacrifice, and intellect equal to any of the famed male politicians of 1776.
Glory, Passion, and Principle tells the story of eight incredible women, each deprived of formal education, world travel, or equal status, and yet all managed to flourish against incredible odds. Whether advising such men as John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, or Benjamin Franklin on political theory; publishing poems and plays that would rouse a nation to independent furor; helping negotiate treaties; acting as spies; or fighting alongside men in the military -- these women broke the limiting definitions imposed upon them, much as America was doing for itself, and helped form and found the country that is America today.
Each chapter is dedicated to a different woman, starting with Abigail Adams, political confidante and wife of John Adams. Using her intellect to influence her husband's position in the Continental Congress, she earned the distinction of being the only person to put Thomas Jefferson in his place.
Nancy Ward, the brave and diplomatic leader of the Cherokee tribe, matured from a young widow to bold warrior, risking her life and those of her people when she warned the Patriots of imminent attack by Native American tribes. She became a strong voice when the Treaty of Hopewell was signed in 1785.
Yet another bright light was Sybil Ludington, a seventeen-year-old who took it upon herself to alert her town's militia that the British were coming, and survived a ride twice as long as Paul Revere's. And where Revere got caught, Ludington did not. Alongside Ludington, Adams, and Ward, the five other chapters chronicle the lives of Deborah Sampson, Lydia Darragh, Mercy Otis Warren, Phillis Wheatley, and Molly Hays.
Filled with unimaginable heartbreak, personal sacrifice, and cunning survival skills, Glory, Passion, and Principle is an inspiring testament to the women who undoubtedly made a considerable dent in our great nation's history.


Life of Deborah Sampson
by John Adams Vinton (selected pages) Order here

Portrait of Deborah - A Drama in Three Acts
by Charles Emery (selected pages)
This book is currently unavailable at bookstores.

Women public speakers in the United States, 1800-1925 - Deborah Sampson
by Karlyn Kohrs Campbell (selected pages)

Voices of the American Revolution, Deborah Sampson
by Kendall F. Haven (selected pages)

Deborah Sampson
The American Monthly Magazine Volume 15 by Daughters of the American Revolution (selected pages)

Deborah Sampson
Graham's Magazine Volume 39 (selected pages)

Preview the Amazon books using the links below.

Skill Sharpener's Reading, Grade 6 - Deborah Sampson
by Martha Cheney (selected pages)

Deborah Sampson
by Rick Burke (selected pages)

Soldier's Secret, The Story of Deborah Sampson
by Sheila Solomon Klass (selected pages)

Glory, Passion, and Principle, the Story of Eight Remarkable Women - Deborah Sampson
by Melissa Lukeman Bohrer (selected pages)

Revolutionary women in the War for American Independence - Deborah Sampson
by Elizabeth Fries Ellet, Lincoln Diamant (selected pages)

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Biographies in this Series

Reference citations information for these biographies

Presidents of
the United States
George Washington John Adams Thomas Jefferson James Madison James Monroe Andrew Jackson
  Martin Van Buren Abraham Lincoln Theodore Roosevelt Franklin D. Roosevelt Harry S. Truman Dwight D. Eisenhower
  John F. Kennedy Lyndon B. Johnson Jimmy Carter Ronald Reagan Barack Obama Calvin Coolidge
American Patriots Benjamin Franklin Francis Scott Key Deborah Sampson Molly Pitcher
World Leaders Constantine Alexander the Great Winston Churchill Margaret Thatcher
Inventors Alexander Graham Bell Johann Gutenberg Cyrus McCormick The Wright Brothers Henry Ford Thomas A. Edison
  Sequoyah Nikola Tesla Michael Faraday Dean Kamen Jack Kilby Leonardo Da Vinci
  Donald O'Neal
Explorers Christopher Columbus Meriwether Lewis Robert Peary John Muir Matthew Henson Sir Edmund Hillary
  Kit Carson Johnny Appleseed Daniel Boone
Women who made
a difference
Clara Barton Helen Keller Florence Nightingale Joan of Arc Amelia Earhart Annie Oakley
  Susan B. Anthony Elizabeth Keckly Harriet Tubman Anne Frank Eleanor Roosevelt Madam C.J. Walker
  Sadako Sasaki Henrietta Lacks Malala Yousafzai      
Scientists George Washington Carver Sir Isaac Newton Marie Curie Louis Pasteur Albert Einstein Galileo
  Lise Meitner Norman Borlaug Benjamin Banneker
Educators Noah Webster Booker T. Washington Aristotle Mary McLeod Bethune
Physicians Hippocrates Walter Reed Albert Schweitzer
Religious Leaders George Muller Increase Mather
Athletes Lou Gehrig Wilma Rudolph Tiger Woods Michael Phelps
Civil Rights
Martin Luther King Rosa Parks Sojourner Truth Frederick Douglass Mary Ann Shadd Cary James Forten
  Gandhi César Chávez William Wilberforce Nelson Mandela
Composers Beethoven Mozart
Authors Laura Ingalls Wilder Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) Ernest Hemingway Greg Mortenson Phillis Wheatley
Artists John James Audubon Gutzon Borglum Ansel Adams Dale Chihuly Van Gogh Michelangelo
  Rembrandt Grandma Moses Cassatt Renoir Cezanne Rockwell


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