Summary: Hope has two daughters: anger and courage. Anger at how things are, and courage to try to change them. Here’s how one young lady changed her world forever!
Samuel Griscom and his wife, Rebecca, were Quakers, a group that believes that the Holy Spirit can fill a person so that they can live a life that pleases God in all they do. Just like the Church of God Reformation Movement. Samuel was a hard working carpenter, just like his father and grandfather before him. Samuel and Rebecca had 7 children and then God added to the new year of 1752, a new baby, a daughter they named Elizabeth, born on New Year’s day. Samuel and Rebecca would go on to have 10 more children.
Elizabeth went to a Friends (Quaker) public school. For eight hours a day she was taught reading, writing, and received instruction in a trade — probably sewing. After completing her schooling, Elizabeth’s father apprenticed her to a local upholsterer. There she fell in love with another apprentice, John, who was the son of an Episcopal assistant rector at Christ Church.
Quakers frowned on inter-denominational marriages. The penalty for such unions was severe — the guilty party being "read out" of the Quaker meeting house. Getting "read out" meant being cut off emotionally and economically from both family and meeting house. One’s entire history and community would be instantly dissolved. On a November night in 1773, 21-year-old Elizabeth sacrificed her family ties and eloped with John. They ferried across the Delaware River to Hugg’s Tavern and were married in New Jersey. Her wedding caused an irrevocable split from her family.
Less than two years after their nuptials, the couple started their own upholstery business. Their decision was a bold one as competition was tough and they could not count on Elizabeth’s Quaker circle for business. As she was "read out" of the Quaker community, on Sundays one could now find Elizabeth at Christ Church sitting in pew 12 with her husband.
In January 1776, a disaffected British agitator living in Philadelphia for only a short while published a pamphlet that would have a profound impact on the Colonials. Tom Paine ("These are the times that try men’s souls") wrote Common Sense which would swell rebellious hearts and sell 120,000 copies in three months; 500,000 copies before war’s end.
However, the city was fractured in its loyalties. Many still felt themselves citizens of Britain. Others were ardent revolutionaries heeding a call to arms.
Elizabeth and John keenly felt the impact of the war. Fabrics needed for business were becoming hard to come by. Business was slow. John joined the Pennsylvania militia. While guarding an ammunition cache in mid-January 1776, John was mortally wounded in an explosion. Though his young wife tried to nurse him back to health he died on the 21st and was buried in Christ Church cemetery.
Brave Elizabeth was now a widow struggling to run her own upholstery business. Upholsterers in colonial America not only worked on furniture but did all manner of sewing work. In May of 1776, a secret committee from the Continental Congress came to Elizabeth’s house. One man, Robert, was the wealthiest man in the Colonies. The two others were both named George. One of them a prominent citizen of Philadelphia, the other a friend from church. Her friend from church had visited Elizabeth and John often and had hired Elizabeth to be his seamstress. Her friend George handed Elizabeth a rough sketch of something they want Elizabeth to create for them, a production that would be carried into battle and displayed for years to come. Elizabeth didn’t like the design they gave, but they like the redesign she gave them.