When Peggy Shippen, the celebrated blonde belle of Philadelphia, married American military hero Benedict Arnold in 1779, she anticipated a life of fame and fortune, but financial debts and political intrigues prompted her to conspire with her treasonous husband against George Washington and the American Revolution. In spite of her commendable efforts to rehabilitate her husband’s name, Peggy Shippen continues to be remembered as a traitor bride.
Peggy’s patriotic counterpart was Lucy Flucker, the spirited and voluptuous brunette, who in 1774 defied her wealthy Tory parents by marrying a poor Boston bookbinder simply for love. When her husband, Henry Knox, later became a famous general in the American Revolutionary War, Lucy faithfully followed him through Washington’s army camps where she birthed and lost babies, befriended Martha Washington, was praised for her social skills, and secured her legacy as an admired patriot wife.
And yet, as esteemed biographer Nancy Rubin Stuart reveals, a closer look at the lives of both spirited women reveals that neither was simply a “traitor” or “patriot.” In Defiant Brides, the first dual biography of both Peggy Shippen Arnold and Lucy Flucker Knox, Stuart has crafted a rich portrait of two rebellious women who defied expectations and struggled—publicly and privately—in a volatile political moment in early America.
Drawing from never-before-published correspondence, Stuart traces the evolution of these women from passionate teenage brides to mature matrons, bringing both women from the sidelines of history to its vital center. Readers will be enthralled by Stuart’s dramatic account of the epic lives of these defiant brides, which begin with romance, are complicated by politics, and involve spies, disappointments, heroic deeds, tragedies, and personal triumphs.
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Excerpted from "Defiant Brides"
Copyright © 2014 Nancy Rubin Stuart.
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Table of ContentsList of Internal Pictures
Part I: DEFIANT BRIDES
Chapter 1: “The Handsomest Woman in America”
Chapter 2: “The Best and Tenderest of Friends”
Chapter 3: “The Delight, and Comfort of her Adoring General”
Chapter 4: “Our Sweetest Hopes Embittered by Disappointment”
Chapter 5: “Fortitude Under Stress”
PART II: TENDER WIVES
Chapter 6: “ As Good and innocent as an Angel”
Chapter 7: “A Momentary Pang”
Chapter 8: “Haste Happy Time When We Shall Be No More Separate”
Chapter 9: “Yet We Wade On”
Chapter 10: “ My Regret at this Cruel, Dreadful Separation”
PART III: SHADOW SISTERS
Chapter 11: “Illusive Bubbles”
Chapter 12: “ An Irresistible but Invisible Force”
Chapter 13: “ I Do Not Suffer My Spirits to Overcome Me”
Chapter 14: The Brides’s Legacies
What People are Saying About This
“An ingenious means of bringing new life to the oldest story in our nation’s past: the American Revolution from the perspective of the young and clear-sighted wives of generals Benedict Arnold and Henry Knox. Tracing the parallel lives of two couples with conflicting loyalties, Nancy Rubin Stuart achieves a you-are-there verisimilitude in Defiant Brides that is rare and not to be missed.”
—Megan Marshall, author of The Peabody Sisters and Margaret Fuller
“In this lively double-biography, Nancy Rubin Stuart reveals the resilient lives of a leading patriot and a notorious Loyalist: both of them women.
Lucy Flucker Knox and Peggy Shippen Arnold deftly performed the parlor politics that helped to shape the American Revolution in surprising ways.”
—Alan Taylor, author of The Civil War of 1812
“Written with verve and compassion, Nancy Rubin Stuart’s portrait of two extraordinary marriages of the American Revolution offers a valuable and moving reminder that even in the most dramatic of public events, private passions prevailed and participants remained, first and foremost, husbands and wives.”
—Marla R. Miller, author of Betsy Ross and the Making of America
“A captivating look at two marriages, marked by bold rebellion and fierce loyalty. The wives of traitor Benedict Arnold and Revolutionary hero Henry Knox never met, and died an ocean apart, but Stuart’s story of their marriages, full of love, passion, betrayal, and disappointments, reads like a Hollywood script.”
—Betty Boyd Caroli, author of First Ladies
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
There must be something in the air. This is the second book that I have read in the past few weeks that is primarily focused on correspondence of the focal characters. In a uniquely parallel perspective of two contemporaries, we follow the stories of Peggy Shippen Arnold, wife of Benedict, and Lucy Flucker Knox, wife of Henry. Both men are familiar to everyone who is familiar with the American Revolution, although in most accounts of the time the women’s contributions to the course of history are often ignored in their entirety. A solid grounding in research, providing a curiously parallel track of the lives of these two women allows the reader to enhance their knowledge of some key players in the Revolution, from a different perspective; bringing freshness to the male-dominated history that we are all familiar with. I don’t know that I saw either woman as particularly defiant, perhaps in marrying beneath their established social strata, or in their determination to persevere all the challenges thrown at them in their positions of helpmate and supporter of their husband’s activities. While there is a subtle lean on the part of the author to suggest Peggy Shipton Arnold is more deserving of recognition and a revamp of her image as wife of the most infamous traitor of the time, it did not distract from my reading. Perhaps it is so, far easier to be associated with a man and a name that is not reviled, but the relationship that was detailed between Lucy and Henry Knox was one that felt most modern and contemporary, despite the conventions of the day. This book was an interesting read, providing volumes of information without reading like a history text: annotations are peppered throughout and give additional information, while the reproductions of portraits give face to the people featured in the book. The deft handling of the two stories, to compare and contrast their lives serves to enhance both their stories and is an elegant introduction to their lives. I received an eBook copy from the Publisher via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.