Deborah Sampson

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Among the soldiers of the Massachusetts Fourth Regiment, a young Private, Robert Shurtliff "…was always mentioned in glowing terms as being one of the toughest, strongest, and most patriotic soldiers… Shurtliff's physical endurance was legendary" (Leonard). In contrast, the inexperienced, eighteen-year-old Deborah Sampson rarely received compliments nor stood out among the beauties of Plympton and Middleborough, Massachusetts. These two seemingly-different personages have much more in common that one might imagine. In the late Eighteenth Century, women had few rights given to them in their male dominated societies. "Women could not legally vote, own property, or serve in the military…" (Silvey 10). Despite these statutory limitations, Sampson knew what she wanted to accomplish and she would go to any extent necessary to achieve it. Deborah Sampson helped pave the way for a change in the rights of women by showing strong vitality and persistence in following her dreams, serving her country, and by exhibiting unfailing faith in herself and her abilities - so often overlooked by society. Deborah Sampson's exposure to war and its consequences were established at a very young age which may have prompted her desire to become a soldier. Both of Sampson's parents were direct Mayflower descendants. Her mother, Deborah Bradford Sampson, was the grand-daughter of the well-known William Bradford. In addition to this relation, Sampson's father Jonathan Sampson Junior directly descends from the great Captain Myles Standish. It is very likely that her relatives, on more than one occasion, discussed how war had changed their own lives in ways such as the musket ball that intruded into William Bradford's flesh that remained incased within his body until 1657 when his life was ended (Schmidt 184). The Sampson family seemed quite ideal. But a tragedy occurred around the time Deborah was five, her father was thought to be lost at sea but later inquires presented...
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