Mercy Otis Warren: A Bibliography

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Source: Bibliography to Warren's History of the Rise, Progress, and Termination of the American Revolution interspersed with Biographical, Political and Moral Observations, in Two Volumes, Foreword by Lester H. Cohen (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund 1994). Vol. 1.

Bibliography: The Writings of Mercy Otis Warren


Mercy Warren Papers, MHS (Boston)

Otis Papers, MHS

Warren-Adams Manuscripts, MHS

Knight-Gerry Papers, MHS

Warren-Winthrop Letters, MHS

Elbridge Gerry Papers, MHS

Warren Family Letters and Papers, Pilgrim Museum (Plymouth)

Gay-Otis Papers, Butler Library (Columbia University)

Otis Family Manuscripts, Butler Library

Manuscript History, Houghton Library (Harvard University)


Charles Francis Adams, ed., Correspondence Between John Adams and Mercy Warren, Relating to the “History of the American Revolution,” MHS, Collections, fifth series, IV (Boston, 1878)

L.H. Butterfield, ed., Adams Family Correspondence (4 vols.; Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1963–1973)

C. Harvey Gardiner, ed., A Study in Dissent: The Warren-Gerry Correspondence, 1776–1792 (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1968)

Warren-Adams Letters: Being Chiefly a Correspondence Among John Adams, Samuel Adams, and James Warren, MHS, Collections, vols. 72, 73 (1917, 1925)


“The Adulateur,” Massachusetts Spy, March 26 and April 23, 1772

Boston, 1773 (pamphlet)

Magazine of History, 16 (1917–18), pp. 227–259

“The Defeat,” Boston Gazette, May 24 and July 19, 1773

Edmund M. Hayes, ed., NEQ, 49 (September 1976), pp. 440–458

“The Group,” Boston Gazette, January 23, 1775

Massachusetts Spy, January 26, 1775

Boston: Edes and Gill, 1775

New York: John Anderson, 1775 (The Group, A Farce)

Jamaica, printed; Philadelphia, reprint: James Humphreys, Jr., 1775.

(The Group, A Farce) (No copy of the Jamaica edition is available.)

“Observations on the New Constitution and on the Federal and State Conventions. By A Columbian Patriot” (Boston, 1788)

Reprinted in Paul Leicester Ford, ed., Pamphlets on the Constitution of the United States, Published During Its Discussion by the People, 1787–1788 (Brooklyn, 1888): 1–23, where it is erroneously attributed to Elbridge Gerry.

Reprinted in Herbert J. Storing, ed., The Complete Anti-Federalist (7 vols.; Chicago, 1981), 4: 270–287

Poems, Dramatic and Miscellaneous (Boston, 1790)

(Includes two dramatic tragedies: “The Sack of Rome” and “The Ladies of Castille.”)

Edmund M. Hayes, ed., “The Private Poems of Mercy Otis Warren,” NEQ, 54 (June 1981), pp. 199–224

Plays and Poems of Mercy Otis Warren: Facsimile Reproductions Compiled and with an Introduction by Benjamin Franklin V (Delmar, N.Y.: Scholars’ Facsimiles and Reprints, 1980)

(Includes “The Adulateur,” “The Defeat,” and “The Group"; “The Blockheads” and “The Motley Assembly,” the authorship of which is disputed; and the 1790 Poems, Dramatic and Miscellaneous.)

History of the Rise, Progress and Termination of the American Revolution. Interspersed with Biographical, Political and Moral Observations (Boston: Manning and Loring, 1805)

Photo-facsimile, New York: A.M.S. Press, 1970

Chapter XXXI reprinted in Herbert J. Storing, ed., The Complete

 Anti-Federalist (7 vols.; Chicago, 1981), 6: 195–249

Secondary Sources

The most comprehensive and complete biography of Warren is Mary Elizabeth Regan, “Pundit and Prophet of the Old Republic: The Life and Times of Mercy Otis Warren, 1728–1814” (unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, 1984). Jean Fritz, Cast for a Revolution: Some American Friends and Enemies, 1728–1814 (Boston, 1972) is an admirable study of Warren’s life in the context of Massachusetts politics. John J. Waters, Jr., The Otis Family in Provincial and Revolutionary Massachusetts (Chapel Hill, N.C., 1968) is a multigenerational family history which brilliantly illuminates local Massachusetts history as well as that of the Otises.

The best short introduction to Warren’s thought and writings is Maud Macdonald Hutcheson, “Mercy Warren, 1728–1814,” WMQ, third series, 10 (July 1953), pp. 378–402. Arthur H. Shaffer, The Politics of History: Writing the History of the American Revolution, 1783–1815 (Chicago, 1975) discusses the historical writings of the Revolutionary era, with a focus on the development of a national historiography. William Raymond Smith, History as Argument: Three Patriot Historians of the American Revolution (The Hague, 1966) analyzes the historical theories and assumptions of David Ramsay, Mercy Warren, and John Marshall. I have discussed eighteenth-century historical thought generally in The Revolutionary Histories: Contemporary Narratives of the American Revolution (Ithaca, N.Y., 1980), and in “Creating a Useable Future: The Revolutionary Historians and the National Past,” in Jack P. Greene, ed., The American Revolution: The Unfinished Agenda (New York: forthcoming, 1987). I have treated Warren’s historical theory in its ideological context in “Explaining the Revolution: Ideology and Ethics in Mercy Otis Warren’s Historical Theory,” WMQ, third series, 37 (April 1980), pp. 200–218.

Warren’s plays and poetry are usually discussed in passing—ordinarily in the context of eighteenth-century American satire or poetry generally. Moses Coit Tyler’s The Literary History of the American Revolution, 1763–1783 (2 vols.; New York, 1896) remains useful. Everett Emerson, ed., American Literature, 1764–1789: The Revolutionary Years is a good collection of essays, including Calhoun Winton’s “The Theatre and Drama,” pp. 87–104. Bruce Ingram Granger, Political Satire in the American Revolution, 1763–1783 (Ithaca, N.Y., 1960) provides a good overview of an important topic. I learned much about American playwrights from Walter J. Meserve, An Emerging Entertainment: The Drama of the American People to 1828 (Bloomington, Ind., 1977). Gerald Weales, “ ‘The Adulateur’ and How It Grew,” Library Chronicles, 43 (1979), pp. 103–133 is the most insightful essay on Warren’s play specifically and on Warren as a playwright in general. Weales’s “The Quality of Mercy, or, Mrs. Warren’s Profession,” Georgia Review, 33 (Winter 1979), pp. 881–894 is entertaining as well as instructive. Benjamin Franklin V provides an introduction to his compilation of Warren’s poems and plays. Edmund M. Hayes has published an authoritative edition of Warren’s “The Defeat,” NEQ, 49 (September 1976), pp. 440–458, and hitherto unpublished poems, “The Private Poems of Mercy Otis Warren,” NEQ, 54 (June 1981), pp. 199–224. Cheryl Z. Oreovicz treats the corpus of Warren’s writings in “Mercy Warren and ‘Freedom’s Genius,’ ” University of Mississippi Studies in English, new series, 5 (August 1987). Emily Stipes Watts, The Poetry of American Women from 1632 to 1945 (Austin, Tex., 1977) is the best discussion of its subject. Patti Cowell, ed., Women Poets in Pre-Revolutionary America, 1650–1775: An Anthology (Troy, N.Y., 1981) provides an introduction and well-chosen selections.

The two best books on eighteenth-century American women, both of which deal with Warren, are Linda K. Kerber, Women of the Republic: Intellect and Ideology in Revolutionary America (Chapel Hill, 1980) and Mary Beth Norton, Liberty’s Daughters: The Revolutionary Experience of American Women, 1750–1800 (Boston, 1980). Joan Hoff Wilson and Sharon Bollinger discuss Warren’s contributions to drama, poetry, and history in “Mercy Otis Warren: Playwright, Poet, and Historian of the American Revolution,” in J. R. Brink, ed., Female Scholars: A Tradition of Learned Women Before 1800 (Montreal, 1980). I have tried to show the relationship between Warren’s roles as political thinker, artist, and woman in “Mercy Otis Warren: The Politics of Language and the Aesthetics of Self,” AQ, 35 (Winter 1983), pp. 481–498.