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Election Integrity News Blog


Nuggets of Patriotism Part 4 - Hands and Heroism, Young and Old

By Elizabeth Dallam Ayoub | July 10, 2024

Today's Patriot stories - Hands and Heroism, Young and Old

The American War for Independence, the Revolutionary War, garnered the interest of a wealthy, young aristocrat in France: Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier - the Marquis de Lafayette.

Leaving his homeland where he lived a healthy and wealthy lifestyle, he served alongside General George Washington, commanded troops of his own, and led the colonists to a victory over Britain. 


In a letter to his wife, he explained why he was attracted to the cause of the colonists: “The welfare of America is intimately connected with the happiness of all mankind; she will become the respectable and safe asylum of virtue, integrity, tolerance, equality, and a peaceful liberty.” The Marquis de Lafayette - Lafayette College.


De Lafayette became an American hero. As the last surviving general of the Revolutionary War, he was invited by the president, James Monroe, for a tour of America in 1824 as the nation prepared for its 50th anniversary. He was given a hero’s welcome as he spent four days travelling throughout the country.


Hannah Pennick Berrell, Camp Followers, William Diamond

The great-grandmother x4 (4 greats) of DAR member, E.A., was there to welcome de Lafayette in Philadelphia. Hannah Pennick Berrell had spent her youth in Philadelphia, had been in Old Christ Church, passing Betsey Ross’ pew (number 8), and stopping with her father in George Washington’s pew (number 58) to say the prayer for the country that her father had taught her. Patriotism ran in her blood.

Her father told her to look up at the tall steeple of the church where the eight bells hung. He told her they were rung (along with the Liberty Bell) on July 4, 1776, and how the bells were brought over from England in a brig called Myrtle and had to be hidden away in Allentown during the Revolutionary War when the British were there.

Hannah’s father had taken her to the small brick house where Thomas Jefferson had penned the Declaration of Independence. Her father told her how the members of the Colonial Congress, after signing the Declaration of Independence, went to the Old Christ Church to offer prayer, Thomas Jefferson being one of the notable members there.

She relayed to her great-granddaughter the events surrounding de Lafayette’s visit to Philadelphia: “The Independence Hall Chamber had been painted; scarlet curtains were hung powdered with blue and gold stars; star spangled draperies were hung behind the statue of Washington . . .” Hannah was “swept into the line to meet the General, where she curtsied, shook General de Lafayette’s hand, and passed on in the procession.”

A highlight of her life, she would say to her grandsons and granddaughters: “Come my dears and touch my hand that shook the hand of the great General Lafayette.”

Her hand touched the hand of a man who had helped achieve victory for the new nation, victory which gave the new nation freedom and, to Hannah, gratitude. (Hannah Pennick Berrell story, Through Six Generations, Mary Field Arms Davis, 1953, housed at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.)

* * * * *

Other women, most often poor or without families, did their part for the war effort by becoming what General George Washington called “Camp Followers.” These women were paid a small wage and they used their hands to mend tents, sew, and launder for the men. They nursed the wounded and the sick, and held the hands of the dying to comfort them.

* * * * *

The war provided opportunities for very young patriots to serve, also. Young boys could become drummers, providing vital services both in camp and on the battlefield. The beat of their drum kept soldiers synchronized when marching on the battlefield. Drummers beat out a cadence to rise soldiers for the day. It was also their drumbeat which translated the commanding officers’ orders on the battlefield. (Pre-walkie-talkie and cell phone days!). The loud drum beats would carry over long distances and above the noise of battle.

William Diamond was one of those very young patriots and the drummer for Captain John Parker’s Company. William was the one who sounded the alarm summoning the members of the Lexington militia to the Common on April 19, 1775.

It was his drum that sounded just before the shot heard ‘round the world - the shot that sparked the Revolutionary War. It was his drum that supported the Minutemen as they fought for independence.


Sybil Ludington, Patience Lovell Wright

“The British are coming,” SHE yelled, just as did Paul Revere. Paul Revere had a poem written about him; Sybil Ludington had a 1976 Bicentennial postage stamp designed to honor her.

On the night of April 26, 1777, and during a rainstorm, 16-year-old Sybil rode her horse through the night alerting the men of her father's regiment that the British were heading to Danbury, Connecticut to loot and destroy a a stockpile of provisions for the Continental Army. It was not an easy ride through the dark, the woods, and the rain. She is said to have ridden around forty miles, which is almost triple the length of Paul Revere's famous ride.

At this point of the war, British soldiers outnumbered colonial troops, had more ammunition, financing from the United Kingdom, and were burning cities in the colonies. They were taking colonial soldiers hostage and putting them on a ship for England where they were held as prisoners of war.

Sybil knew the lay of the land around her family’s farm, and knew where her father’s men lived, so in spite of the weather and the risk of capture, Sybil was able to alert the regiment, and many were assembled and ready to march by the time Sybil returned home that night.

Although her father's troops arrived too late to aid the defense of Danbury, they did confront the departing British and drive them back to Long Island Sound in New York.

 * * * * *

Probably the first woman spy for what is now called the United States, is a woman named Patience Lovell Wright. As a young mother she made sculptures from bread dough to delight her children. After her husband died, she started making molds of tinted wax in the colonies to support her family.

Wright ultimately moved to London, England, where she caused quite a scandal. (Even Abigail Adams wrote of Wright’s “rustic manners.”) In order to soften the wax she needed to mold her sculptures, Wright would place it between her legs underneath her dress! 

She used her time in England to further the cause in which she believed: the cause of the colonists fighting for freedom. She wrote to John Dickinson, a Pennsylvania delegate to the Continental Congress, and informed him of the British Army’s preparations in England.


She also helped American prisoners of war held in Britain. When she learned sensitive information, she wrote it in a letter to the Continental Army. She then mailed wax figures to the Continental Army, with the letter of enemy war preparations embedded inside. 

One of Wright’s wax figures is still displayed in Westminster Abbey, London, England, the rest having been destroyed by fire.


As patriots whose hands beat the drums to call the troops into action,

patriots whose hands offered comfort and cleverness, or whose hands extended both in and across time to extend gratitude and appreciation;

so, too, do Michigan Fair Elections’ volunteers thank all those who continue to work or who start afresh to volunteer in whatever way during these important election seasons.


* * * * *

Don't miss the final story in the series: Nuggets of Patriotism Part 5 - Freedom to Vote Worth it's Weight in Gold.

Want an opportunity to learn more about our Founding Fathers? See below.


Elizabeth Dallam Ayoub serves on MFE’s Communications Team. She started her career working for an international company, transitioned into teaching French and Latin while her children were young, and then became a Michigan attorney.


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MFE's Coalition Task Force Meeting

Don't miss tomorrow's discussion on all the valuable work being done to insure election integrity.

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Mark your calendars to attend Election Integrity Network's outstanding national working groups. Consider also serving as liaison to report to MFE's Task Force Coalition on our Thursday meetings.

Below is the schedule for National Working Groups July 9-11. A link to the full National Working Group Calendar for July is HERE  (All meetings are noted in Eastern time.)

Wednesday, July 10

Thursday, July 11

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The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the authors and do not reflect the official position of the Michigan Fair Elections. Every article written by an MFE author is generated by the author or editor alone. Links embedded within the article, however, may have been generated by artificial intelligence.

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