A revolutionary heroine for the twentieth century : Sybil Ludington in media, myth, and American memory
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT REQUEST OF AUTHOR.] Sybil Ludington as a figure of American history first appeared in 1907 in a book and magazine articles that were intended to pay tribute to her father, a colonel in the New York State militia during the American Revolution. Instead, it was a short episode about Sybil Ludington's horseback trip through the night of April 26, 1777 to warn of the British march on Danbury, Connecticut, that seized the public's imagination. Historic road markers were erected along her supposed route through the countryside and a large, bronze statue was erected in her honor. Her story grew from one of local celebrity to regional renown to national popularity as it was told and retold in newspaper and magazine articles, juvenile biographies, television dramas, works of poetry, opera, and drama, and in popular and histories and school textbooks. While Sybil Ludington was a real person, very little is known about her life and no contemporary evidence has been found to support that her ride ever took place. Yet, her story has evolved and been transformed over the past one hundred years as succeeding individuals, groups, and media have found in her the kind of Revolutionary figure they believe represents their view of the past. Examining the story of Sybil Ludington allows us to examine how the collective memory develops and the ways in which it is a reflection of the present rather than a true reconstruction of the past.
Access is limited to the campus of the University of Missouri--Columbia.