• Today's Daily Devotion
Working With Eager Hands
The New Jersey lady’s newspaper article calling on her fellow patriots to give money to the Continental army was part of a larger campaign by women to do what they ...

Working with Eager Hands

The New Jersey lady’s newspaper article calling on her fellow patriots to give money to the Continental army was part of a larger campaign by women to do what they could for the cause. And although Martha Washington led by example, she also led with her voice. As she returned home to Mount Vernon in June 1780, Martha stopped in Philadelphia. The mission of this farmer’s wife was to sow some seeds for the army. It was time for the ladies to work with eager hands.

“She, along with several other prominent ladies, including Benjamin Franklin’s daughter, became involved in a campaign to enlist the help of America’s women in providing aid to the soldiers in the Continental Army,” Mount Vernon historian Mary Thompson reflected in a presentation she gave on Martha’s involvement in the war.

Esther DeBerdt Reed led the women’s effort in Philadelphia. She was the wife of Joseph Reed, who had served General Washington in earlier campaigns before returning to Pennsylvania to serve the government there through the governing council. “Given her husband’s position, Mrs. Reed undoubtedly knew something about the problems, which had plagued the army at Morristown, however, it is impossible not to think that Mrs. Washington was the source, through personal conversation, for enough first-hand examples of suffering and need in camp to spur the other ladies into action,” stressed Thompson.

“The basic idea, as outlined in The Pennsylvania Gazette, was for one lady to be chosen by the other women in each county, to act as a local treasurer, gather in funds, and keep a record of each donation in a little book. When the money had been collected, each county treasurer would send both the contributions and the registers to the first lady of her state, who would, in turn, send it along to Martha Washington.”

The patriotism of the ladies and their project was a blessing to General Washington. He put together a plan for how the donations could be used. “I very much admire the patriotic spirit of the Ladies of Philada., and shall with great pleasure give them my advice, as to the application of their benevolent and generous donation to the soldiers of the Army,” he wrote to Joseph Reed.

Washington concluded that one need in particular would best match the contributions. “I would, nevertheless, recommend a provision of shirts in preference to any thing else, in case the fund should amount to a sum equivalent to a supply of eight or ten thousand. The Soldiery are exceedingly in want of them, and the public have never, for several years past, been able to procure a sufficient quantity to make them comfortable,” George Washington noted.

The work of the ladies was sealed. It was time to stitch shirts and work with eager hands.


I pray for a willingness to work with eager hands, no matter how meager the task today.

“She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands”

(Proverbs 31:13).

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