one house, five families, 200 years of history

Whose Liberty?: The Dodges

Abraham Dodge and other white property holders achieved the liberty they fought for, though the war left Abraham in debt and Ipswich in decline. For Abraham’s daughter Abigail and other women coming of age in the new nation, the Revolutionary promise was unclear. Women had few political rights, and girls’ education, when available, focused on domestic and social skills like needlework and dancing.

Abigail sought to stake her claim to the Revolution’s ideals by founding a school with husband Nathaniel Rogers to give girls an academic education equal to that of boys, single-handedly carrying on after his early death. Critics fearful of the new social order attacked her for teaching young girls ideas about “the rights of women” advocated by English writer Mary Wollstonecraft. But Abigail prevailed and achieved long-term success operating a school in Salem.

"There is a society of Young Ladies . . . who . . . boldly assume what they stile the ‘rights of women’ . . ."

—Letter in a Boston newspaper criticizing Abigail Dodge Rogers and her students, 1801