For four years, American Spirit* has dedicated its March/April issue to Women’s History Month. It’s a particularly enjoyable issue to write, edit and design in partnership with the Daughters of the American Revolution since it gives us a chance to find and promote little-known stories of fascinating women of early America.
One of those women is a Cherokee “Beloved Woman” named Nan-ye-hi, an influential leader and peacekeeper during a time of great upheaval in the Cherokee Nation. Despite my living in Tennessee–her home and that of her ancestors–for the past 10 years, I had never even heard of Nan-ye-hi until the Nancy Ward DAR Chapter (named after her English name) suggested researching her life for this issue. It was a privilege to share that research with readers.
Our cover was designed to highlight Nan-ye-hi and two of the other diverse and distinguished women featured in this issue. Illustrator Antonio Rodrigues used organic shapes and earthy colors to illuminate Elizabeth Freeman, the former slave who helped abolish slavery in Massachusetts, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, a pioneer in Catholic education who became the first U.S. citizen to be canonized, and Nan-ye-hi. The subtle background script that fleshes out the illustrations underscores one of American Spirit’s goals: to faithfully record these early American women’s remarkable stories and convey their importance to modern readers.
Another feature is excerpted from Nancy Rubin Stuart’s book, Defiant Brides: The Untold Story of Two Revolutionary-Era Women and the Radical Men They Married. Stuart details the moments that Lucy Flucker Knox and Peggy Shippen Arnold met their Revolutionary husbands Henry Knox and Benedict Arnold, and hints at ways the women’s initially parallel lives eventually diverged.
It’s Mardi Gras season, so it’s fitting that we travel to Louisiana for two stories: Our Historic Homes department visits Laura Plantation, a French Creole sugar plantation that was run by several strong-willed women in the 19th century, and Spirited Adventures checks in on Natchitoches, the oldest permanent settlement in the Louisiana Purchase.
*For more than a decade, Hammock has been honored to assist the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution in publishing their award-winning magazine. Anyone can subscribe here.