A1r

Address,

delivered with applause,
At the Federal-Street Theatre, Boston,
four successive nights of the different
plays, beginning 1802-03-22March 22, 1802;
and after, at other principal towns, a
number of nights successively
at each place;

By Mrs. Deborah Gannet,
the American heroine
Who served three years with reputation (undiscovered as a
Female) in the late
American Army.

Published at the request of the audiences.


Copy Right Secured.

Dedham:
Printed and sold by H. Mann, for Mrs. Gannet,
at the Minerva Office.—1802.

A1v A2r

Introduction.

The character and achievements of Mrs. Gannet,
late Deborah Sampson, the American Heroine,
have excited much curiosity in the United States. At the
close of the revolution, she retired to an obscure part of
Massachusetts, selected, or rather was selected, a partner
of an industrious farmer. From her Memoirs, since
published, and the best, nearest information, she continues
to support, with reputation, the offices of Wife, Mother,
and Friend —affable in her disposition, courteous in her
manners, and universally benevolent.

It is from her naturally ambitious disposition, and
taste for a more elevated stile of life, that she is induced
to re-visit some of the principal places, which were
the theatre of her personating the soldier— to appear in
public, to open the eyes of the incredulous, and to wipe
off any aspersions, which the whispers of satire, caprice,
or malevolence may have wantonly thrown upon her.

This resolution being communicated to a number of respectable
Characters, she received invitations from them,
to make her appearance on the Boston Theatre, and to
give a recital of some of the principal traits of her life.
This proposal caught both her fancy and her wishes,
honorably to enhance the pecuniary interest of her family;
which she is said industriously to economize.

A2v iv

She accordingly procured the following, which she remarkably
soon committed, verbatim, to memory, except anaddition
since about three pages. Under the superintendence
of Messrs. Powell and Harper, she was ushered
on to the Stage in a very polite manner; where,
before a crouded assembly, perfectly unabashed, she very
audibly recited her naration. In the Manual Exercise,
being in complete uniform, and during the Soldier’s Festival,
she acquitted herself with peculiar ease and grace,
――An attendant has since introduced her to the Audience
by the following

Prospectus.

Ye guardian Friends of Liberty and Peace,

Our surest hope of merit, power, increase,

Mark here those traits so rare in Female’s

She does not speak, nor do I write, for fame.

Her boldest claim is simple, gen’ine Truth;

Her humblest plea is for her Sex and Youth.

May not base calumny her deeds supplant;

Your Patronage, as from a Parent, grant.—

E’en Britain’s Fair, though proud, this truth
must own――

When Liberty’s at stake, a Female storms
the Throne!

A3r

Address.

Not unlike the example of the
patriot and philanthropist, though perhaps
perfectly so in effect, do I awake from the
tranquil slumbers of retirement, to active,
public scenes of life, like those which now
surround me. That genius which is the
prompter of curiosity, and that spirit which
is the support of enterprize, early drove, or,
rather illured me, from the corner of humble
obscurity—their cheering aspect has again
prevented a torpid rest.

Secondary to these are the solicitations of
a number of worthy characters and friends,
too persuasive and congenial with my own A3v 6
disposition to be answered with indifference,
or to be rejected, have induced me thus to
advance and bow submissive to an audience,
simply and concisely to rehearse a tale of
truth
; which, though it took its rise, and
finally terminated in the splendor of public
life, I was determined to repeat only as the
soliloquy of a hermit, or to the visionary
phantoms, which hover through the glooms
of solitude.

A tale—the truth of which I was ready
to say, but which, perhaps, others have already
said for me, ought to expel me from
the enjoyment of society, from the acknowledgement
of my own sex, and from the endearing
friendship of the other. But this, I
venture to pronounce, would be saying too
much: For as I should thus not respect
myself, should be entitled to none from others.

I indeed recollect it as a foible, an error and
presumption, into which, perhaps, I have too
inadvertantly and precipitately run; but which
I now retrospect with anguish and amazement A4r 7
—recollect it, as a Thomson, or any other
moralizing naturalist, susceptible to the
like fine feelings of nature, recollects the
howling blasts of winter, at a period when
Flora has strewed the earth with all her profusion
of delicacies, and whose zephyrs are
wafting their fragrance to heighten our sensations
of tranquility and pleasure;—or, rather,
perhaps, I ought to recollect it, as a
marriner, having regained his native shore of
serenity and peace, looks back on the stormy
billows which, so long and so constantly
had threatened to ingulph him in the bowels
of the deep! And yet I must frankly
confess, I recollect it with a kind of satisfaction,
which no one can better conceive and
enjoy than him, who, recollecting the good
intentions
of a bad deed, lives to see and
to correct any indecorum of his life.

But without further preliminary apologies,
yet with every due respect towards this
brilliant and polite circle, I hasten to a review
of the most conspicuous parts of that
path, which led to achievements, which some A4v 8
have believed, but which many still doubt.
Their accomplishment once seemed to me as
impossible, as that I am author of them, is now
incredible to the incredulous, or wounding
to the ear of more refined delicacy and taste.
They are a breach in the decorum of my sex,
unquestionably; and, perhaps, too unfortunately
ever irreconcilable with the rigid maxims
of the moralist; and a sacrifice, which,
while it may seem perfectly incompatible
with the requirements of virtue—and which
of course must ring discord in the ear, and
disgust to the bosom of sensibility and refinement,
I must be content to leave to time
and the most scrutinizing enquiry to disclose.

Unlettered in any scholastic school of
erudition, you will not expect, on this occasion,
the entertainment of the soft and captivating
sounds of eloquence; but rather a
naration of facts in a mode as uncouth as
they are unnatural. Facts—which, though
I once experienced, and of which memory
has ever been painfully retentive, I cannot
now make you feel, or paint to the life.

B1r 9

Know then, that my juvenile mind early
became inquisitive to understand—not merely
whether the principles, or rather the
seeds of war are analogous to the genuine
nature of man—not merely to know why
he should forego every trait of humanity,
and to assume the character of a brute; or,
in plainer language, why he should march
out tranquilly, or in a paroxism of rage
against his fellow-man, to butcher, or be
butchered?—for these, alas! were too soon
horribly verified by the massacres in our
streets, in the very streets which encompass
this edifice—in yonder adjacent villas, Lexington, and the adjacent towns and hamlets,
when the British marched out of Boston to destroy the military
stores at Concord.
on
yonder memorable eminence, Breed’s Hill—wrongly called Bunker Hill. where now
stand living monuments of the atrocious,
the heart-distracting, mementous scenes,
that followed in rapid succession!

This I am ready to affirm, though it may
be deemed unnatural in my sex, is not a demoralizationB B1v 10
of human nature. The sluices,
both of the blood of freemen and of slaves, were
first opened here. And those hills and vallies,
once the favorite resort, both of the lover
and philosopher, have been drunk with their
blood! A new subject was then opened to
the most pathetic imagination, and to the
rouzing of every latent spark of humanity,
one should think, in the bosoms of the
wolves, as well as in those of the sheep, for
whose blood they were so thirsty.

But most of all, my mind became agitated
with the enquiry—why a nation, separated
from us by an ocean more than three thousand
miles in extent, should endeavor to enforce
on us plans of subjugation, the most
unnatural in themselves, unjust, inhuman, in
their operations, and unpractised even by the
uncivilized savages of the wilderness? Perhaps
nothing but the critical juncture of the
times could have excused such a philosophical
disquisition of politics in woman, notwithstanding
it was a theme of universal
speculation and concern to man. We indeed B2r 11
originated from her, as from a parent,
and had, perhaps, continued to this period
in subjection to her mandates, had we not
discovered, that this, her romantic, avaricious
and cruel disposition extended to murder,
after having bound the slave!

Confirmed by this time in the justness
of a defensive war on the one side, from the
most aggravated one on the other—my
mind ripened with my strength; and
while our beds and our roses were sprinkled
with the blood of indiscriminate youth,
beauty, innocence, and decrepit old age,
I only seemed to want the license, to become
one of the severest avengers of the
wrong.

For several years I looked on these scenes
of havoc, rapacity, and devastation, as one
looks on a drowning man, on the conflagration
of a city—where are not only centered
his coffers of gold, but with them his choicest
hopes, friends, companions, his all—
without being able to extend the rescuing
hand to either.

B2v 12

Wrought upon at length, you may say,
by an enthusiasm and phrenzy, that could
brook no control—I burst the tyrant bands,
which held my sex in awe, and clandestinely,
or by stealth, grasped an opportunity, which
custom and the world seemed to deny, as a
natural priviledge. And whilst poverty,
hunger, nakedness, cold and disease had
dwindled the American Armies to a handful
—whilst universal terror and dismay ran
through our camps, ran through our country
—while even Washington himself,
at their head, though like a god, stood, as it
were, on a pinacle tottering over the abyss of
destruction, the last prelude to our falling a
wretched prey to the yawning jaws of the monster
aiming to devour—not merely for the sake
of gratifying a fecetious curiousity, like that of
my reputed Predecessor, in her romantic excursions
through the garden of bliss—did I
throw off the soft habiliments of my sex, and
assume those of the warrior, already prepared
for battle.

Thus I became an actor in that important
drama, with an inflexible resolution to C1r 13
persevere through the last scene; when we
might be permitted and acknowledged to
enjoy what we had so nobly declared we
would possess, or lose with our lives— Freedom
and Independence!—When, the
philosopher might resume his researches
unmolested—the statesman be disembarrassed
by his distracting theme of national politics
—the divine find less occasion to invoke
the indignation of heaven on the usurpers
and cannibals of the inherent rights and even
existence of man—when the son should
again be restored to the arms of his disconsolate
parent, and the lover to the bosom of
her, for whom indeed he is willing to jeopard
is life, and for whom alone he wishes
to live!

A new scene, and, as it were, a new
world now opened to my view; the objects
of which now seemed as important,
as the transition before seemed unnatural.
It would, however, here be a weakness in
me to mention the tear of repentence, or of
that temerity, from which the stoutest C C1v 14
of my sex are, or ought not to be, wholly
exempt on extreme emergencies, which many
times involuntarily stole into my eye, and
fell unheeded to the ground: And that
too before I had reached the embattled field,
the ramparts, which protected its internal
resources—which shielded youth, beauty,
and the delicacy of that sex at home, which
perhaps I had forfeited in turning volunteer
in their defence. Temeritis—when reflections
on my former situation, and this new
kind of being, were daggers more frightful,
than all the implements of war—when the
rustling of every leaf was an omen of danger,
the whisper of each wind, a tale of
woe! If then the poignancy of thought
stared me thus haggardly in the face, found
its way to the inmost recesses of my heart,
thus forcibly, in the commencement of my
career—what must I not have anticipated before
its close!

The curtain is now up—a scene opens
to your view; but the objects strike your attention
less forcibly, and less interestingly, C2r 15
than they then did, not only my own eyes,
but every energetic sensation of my soul.
What shall I say further? Shall I not stop
short, and leave to your imaginations to
pourtray the tragic deeds of war? Is it not
enough, that I here leave it even to unexperience
to fancy the hardships, the anxieties,
the dangers, even of the best life of
a soldier? And were it not improper,
were it not unsafe, were it not indelicate,
and were I certain I should be intitled to a
pardon, I would appeal to the soft bosom
of my own sex to draw a parallel between
the perils and sexual inconveniences of
a girl in her teens, and not only in the
armour, but in the capacity, at any rate,
obliged to perform the duties in the field—
and those who go to the camp without a
masquerade, and consequently subject only
to what toils and sacrifices they please: Or,
will a conclusion be more natural from those,
who sometimes take occasion to complain
by their own domestic fire-sides, but who,
indeed, are at the same time in affluence, cherished
in the arms of their companions, C2v 16
and sheltered from the storms of war by
the roughter sex in arms?

Many have seen, and many can contemplate,
in the field of imagination, battles and
victories amidst garments rolled in blood:
but it is only one of my own sex, exposed
to the storm, who can conceive of my situation.

We have all heard of, many have doubtless
seen, the meteor streaming through
or breaking in the horizon—the terrific
glare of the comet, in its approach towards,
or in its declension from us, in its excentric
orbit—the howling of a tempest—the electric
fluid, which darts majesty and terror
through the clouds—its explosion and tremendous
effects!—Bostonians, and
you who inhabit its environs, you who have
known from experience your houses and
your hills tremble from the cannonade of
Charlestown,—your ears are yet wounded by
the shrieks of her mangled and her distressed—
your eyes swimming in a deluge of anguish C3r 17
at the sight of our butchered, expiring relatives
and friends; while the conflagration of
the town added the last solemnity to the
scene!

This idea must assimulate with the progress
of this horrid delusion of war. Hence
you can behold the parched soil of WhitePlains
drink insatiate the blood of her most
peaceful and industrious proprietors—of freemen,
and of slaves! I was there! The recollection
makes me shudder!—A dislocated
limb draws fresh anguish from my heart!

You may have heard the thunderings of
a volcano—you may have contemplated,
with astonishment and wonder, the burial of
a city by its eruption. Your ears then are
yet deafened from the thunderings of the invasion
of York Town— your eyes dazzled,
your imaginations awfully sublimed, by the
fire which belched from its environs, and
towered, like that from an eruption of Etna,
to the clouds! Your hearts yet bleed,
from every principle of humanity, at the C3v 18
recollection of the havoc, carnage and death
that reigned there!

Three successive weeks, after a long and
rapid march, found me amidst this storm.—
But, happy for America, happy for Europe,
perhaps for the World, when, on the delivery
of Cornwallis’s sword to the illustrious,
the immortal Washington, or rather
by his order, to the brave Lincoln, the sun
of Liberty and Independence burst through
a sable cloud, and his benign influence was,
almost instantaneously, felt in our remotest
corners! The phalanx of war was thus
broken through, and the palladium of peace
blossoming on its ruins.

I will not hence urge you to retrace
with me (tranquilly you surely cannot) all
the footsteps of our valient heroic Leaders
through the distraction both of elements
and of war. I will not even pourtray an
attempt to reinforce the brave Schuyler,
then on the borders of Canada; where, if the
war-whoop of infernals should not strike you C4r 19
with dismay, the tommahawk would soon
follow!

Nor need I point you to the death-like
doors of the hospital in Philadelphia, whose
avenues were crouded with the sick, the
dying and the dead; though myself made
one of the unhappy croud!

You have now but the shade of a picture;
which neither time nor my abilities will
permit me to show you to the life. The
haggard fiend, despair, may have stared you
in the face, when giving over the pursuit of a
favorite, lost child: And it is only in this
torture of suspense that we can rightly conceive
of its situation.

Such is my experience—not that I ever
mourned the loss of a child, but that I considered
myself as lost! For, on the one
hand, if I fell not a victim to the infuriate
rabble of a mob, or of a war not yet fully
terminated—a disclosure of my peculiar situation
seemed infinitely worse than either. C4v 20
And if from stratagem and perseverance, I
may acquire as great knowledge in every respect
as I have of myself in this, my knowledge,
at least of human nature, will be as
complete as it is useful.

But we will now hasten from the field,
from the embattled entrenchments, built for
the destruction of man, from a long, desolating
war, to contemplate more desirable and delightful
scenes. And notwithstanding curiosity
may prompt any to retrace the climax
of our revolution, the means under a smiling,
superintending providence, by which we
have outrode the storms of danger and distress
—what heart will forget to expand with
joy and gratitude, to beat in unison, at the
propitious recollection?—And I enquire,
what infant tongue can ever forget or cease
being taught to lisp the praises of Washington,
and those of that bright constellation
of Worthies, who swell the list of
Columbian fame—those, by whose martial
skill and philanthropic labors, we were first
led to behold, after a long and stormy D1r 21
night, the smiling sun of Peace burst on our
benighted World! And while we drop
a tear over the flowery turf of those patriots
and sages, may she unrivalled enjoy and encrease
her present bright sunshine of happiness!
May agriculture and commerce, industry
and manufactures, arts and sciences,
virtue and decorum, union and harmony—
those richest sources of our worth, and strongest
pillars of our strength, become stationary,
like fixed stars in the firmament, to
flourish in her clime!

Hail dearest Liberty! thou source sublime!

What rays refulgent dart upon our clime!

For thee the direful contest has been waged,

Our hope, and all that life held dear engaged.

Thee the prime offspring which my thoughts
employ,

Once sought with grief—now turns that grief
to joy.

Your beatific influence extend

O’er Africa, whose sable race befriend.

May Europe, as our sister empire, join,

To hail thee rising with your power divine.

D D1v 22

From the lone cottage to the tyrant’s throne,

May Liberty, ethereal guest, be known!

Be thou preserved for nations yet unborn,

Fair as the shining Star that decks the morn.

But the question again returns—What
particular inducement could she have thus to
elope from the soft sphere of her own sex, to
perform a deed of valor by way of sacrilege on
unhallowed ground—voluntarily to face the
storms both of elements and war, in the character
of him, who is more fitly made to brave
and endure all danger?

And dost thou ask what fairy hand inspired

A Nymph to be with martial glory fired?

Or, what from art, or yet from nature’s laws,

Has join’d a Female to her country’s cause?

Why on great Mars’s theatre she drew

Her female pourtrait, though in soldier’s hue?

Then ask—why Cincinnatus left his
farm?

Why science did old Plato’s bosom warm?

Why Hector in the Trojan war should dare?

D2r 23

Or why should Homer trace his actions there?

Why Newton in philosophy has shown?

Or Charles, for solitude, has left his throne?

Why Locke, in metaphysics should delight—

Precisian sage, to set false reason right?

Why Albion’s Sons should kindle up a war?

Why Jove or Vulcan hurried on the car?

Perhaps the same propensity you use,

Has prompted her a martial course to choose.

Perhaps to gain refinements where she could,

This rare achievement for her country’s good.

Or was some hapless lover from her torn—

As Emma did her valient Hammon mourn?

Else he must tell, who would this truth attain,

Why one is form’d for pleasure—one for pain:

Or, boldly, why our Maker made us such—

Why here he gives too littlethere too much!

I would not purposely evade a a pertinent
answer; and yet I know not, at present,
how to give a more particular one than
has already been suggested.

I am indeed willing to acknowledge what
I have done, an error and presumption. I D2v 24
will call it an error and presumption, because
I swerved from the accustomed flowry paths
of female delicacy, to walk upon the heroic
precipice of feminine perdition!—I indeed
left my morning pillow of roses, to prepare
a couch of brambles for the night: and yet
I awoke from this refreshed to gather nought
but the thorns of anguish for the next night’s
repose—and in the precipitancy of passion,
to prepare a moment for repentance at leisure!

Had all this been achieved by the rougher
hand, more properly assigned to wield the
sword in duty and danger in a defensive war,
the most cruel in its measures, though important
in its consequences; these thorns
might have been converted into wreaths of
immortal glory and fame. I therefore
yield every claim of honor and distinction
to the hero and patriot, who met the foe in
his own name; though not with more heartfelt
satisfaction, with the trophies, which
were most to redound to the future grandeur
and importance of the country in
which he lives.

D3r 25

But repentance is a sweet solace to conscience,
as well as the most complete atonement
to the Supreme Judge of our offences: notwithstanding
the tongue of malevolence and
scurrility may be continually preparing its
most poisonous ingredients for the punishment
of a crime, which has already received
more than half a pardon.

Yet if even this be deemed too much of
an extenuation of a breach in the modesty
of the female world—humilized and contented
will I sit down inglorious, for having
unfortunately performed an important part
assigned for another—like a bewildered star
traversing out of its accustomed orbit, whose
twinkling beauty at most has become totally
obscured in the presence of the sun.

But as the rays of the sun strike the eye
with the greatest lustre, when emerging from
a thick fog, and as those actions which have
for their objects the extended hand of charity
to the indigent and wretched—to restore
a bewildered traveller to light—and, to reform D3v 26
in ourselves an irregular and forlorn
course of life; so, allowing myself to be one
or the greatest of these, do I still hope for
some claim on the indulgence and patronage
of the public; as in such case I
might be conscious of the approbation of
my God.

I cannot, contentedly, quit this subject
or this place, without expressing, more emphatically,
my high respect and veneration for
my own sex. The indulgence of this respectable
circle supercedes my merit, as well
as my most sanguine expectations. You
receive at least in return my warmest gratitude.
And though you can neither have,
or perhaps need, from me the instructions
of the sage, or the advice of the counsellor;
you surely will not be wholly indifferent to
my most sincere declaration of friendship
for that sex, for which this checkered flight
of my life may have rendered me the least
ornamental example; but which, neither
in adversity or prosperity, could I ever
learn to forget or degrade.

D4r 27

I take it to be from the greatest extremes
both in virtue and in vice, that the uniformly
virtuous and reformed in life can derive
the greatest and most salutary truths and
impressions.—Who, for example, can contemplate
for a moment, the prodigal
from the time of his revelry with harlots,
to that of his eating husks with swine,
and to his final return to his father—without
the greatest emotions of disgust, pity
and joy? And is it possible to behold the
effects of the unprincipled conduct of the
libertine, the bacchanalian, the debauchee, and
what is more wretched than all, of the emaciated,
haggard form of a modern baggage
in the streets, without bringing into exercise
every passion of abhorrence and commisseration?
And yet, happy those, who at the
same time receive a monitor which fixes a
resolve, never to embark on such a sea of
perdition; where we see shipwreck of all
that is enobling to the dignity of man—all
that is lovely and amiable in the character
of woman!

D4v 28

I cannot, indeed bring the adventures,
even of the worst part of my own life, as
parallels with this black catalogue of crimes.
But in whatever I may be thought to have
been unnatural, unwise and indelicate, it is
now my most fervent desire it may have a
suitable impression on you—and on me, a
penitent for every wrong thought and step.
The rank you hold in the scale of beings is,
in many respects, superior to that of man.
Nurses of his growth, and invariable models
of his habits, he becomes a suppliant at your
shrine, emulous to please, assiduous to cherish
and support, to live and die for you!
Blossoms from your very birth, you become
his admiration, his joy, his eden companions
in this world.—How important then is
it, that these blossoms bring forth such fruit,
as will best secure your own delights and felicity,
and those of him, whose every enjoyment,
and even his very existence, is so peculiarly
interwoven with your own!

On the whole, as we readily acquiesce in
the acknowledgment, that the field and the E1r 29
cabinet are the proper spheres assigned for
our Masters and our Lords; may we, also,
deserve the dignified title and encomium of
Mistress and Lady, in our kitchens and in
our parlours. And as an overruling providence
may succeed our wishes—let us rear
an offspring in every respect worthy to fill
the most illustrious stations of their predecessors.

An angel in flight holding a banner inscribed Finis. Finis.