I’m at the end of this blog series. I’ve compared Triana, my time traveling mermaid, to Princess Leia. I’ve also traveled through history as I introduced the historical women Triana met in my books, Travelers and Settlers (Release date TBA). You can go back through my previous blogs to read about Cornelia Fort, a World War II pilot; Sacagawea, the American Indian who helped Lewis and Clark; Margaret Brown (A.K.A. Molly Brown), who survived the Titanic tragedy.
Elizabeth Burgin is my final historical character in Settlers. Her story has some conjecture around it according this article: https://allthingsliberty.com/2014/09/elizabeth-burgin-helps-the-prisoners-somehow/.
Supposedly where historians didn’t have specific details, they filled in the blanks and reported it as fact. It seems the information that we do know about Mrs. Burgin came from letters. Where the story isn’t clear is how she aided in the escape of over two hundred American prisoners. It is also unclear if they fled the New York prison ships or some other prisons in the same area. The correspondences about her bravery doesn’t specifically say how she assisted in the escapes. However, whatever she did, caused the British to put a two hundred pound reward out for her capture. That was equal to about twenty years of pay for a British soldier. The price on her head forced her to flee New York and leave her children behind with trusted friends.
Since Elizabeth was a widow, the risk she took caused her to be homeless and penniless. When George Washington learned of what she had done, he gave her lodging and food for her and her children when they were finally reunited. Elizabeth didn’t want to be a burden to the United States Government. In a letter to George Washington, she thanked him for the food and shelter the government provided, but she also asked to be given a job to earn these provisions to take care of her family even after the war. Here’s the letter: https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/99-01-02-01137
Washington was so impressed by her request that instead of giving her a job, he and Congress agreed to pay her an annual pension of fifty-five dollars during her lifetime.
Because Elizabeth wanted to end the suffering of the men rotting in brutal prison conditions, she put her life in peril. The men she helped were the ones who fought for freedom from what Patriots viewed as a tyrannical British king. She didn’t let the fear of catching a disease from the prisoners or the fact that she was a female in a male dominated world stop her.
How many of us take our freedoms for granted? Most people living in the United States don’t have to sacrifice anything to have the simple pleasures in life. We also don’t have to be afraid of being executed as a traitor for voicing our opinions that may be contrary or against our President. Freedom isn’t free. Not only men, but a variety of women sacrificed greatly to give you the right to say whatever you want on social media or in a protest. Don’t let the price they paid be in vain.
“Though force can protect in emergency, only justice, fairness, consideration and cooperation can finally lead men to the dawn of eternal peace.” -Dwight D. Eisenhower
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