Sarah Bradlee Fulton

"Mother of the Boston Tea Party"
Portrait of Sarah Bradlee Fulton
War & AffiliationRevolutionary War / American
Date of Birth - Death1740-1835

Sarah Bradlee Fulton was born outside of Boston, Massachusetts, on December 24, 1740. Growing up near the busy city, Fulton was exposed to the patriotic cause and discussions of independence. In 1762, she married patriot John Fulton and participated in boycotts against the British. As a member of the Daughters of Liberty, she became involved in protests and became engaged with the planning of the Boston Tea Party. In 1773, the British parliament placed a monopoly on the selling of tea and other imported goods. The Tea Act required the colonies to pay an extra tax when purchasing or selling tea or other goods. While planning the Boston Tea Party, Sarah is credited with disguising the Sons of Liberty as Native Americans. After the protest, the men returned to Fulton’s home, where she helped remove face paint and hide the disguises from British authorities. There were rumors in Boston of the Sons of Liberty using Fulton’s home as a meeting spot, but they were never caught.  

When the American Revolution began in 1775 with the firing at Lexington and Concord, Fulton quickly joined the cause. At the Battle of Bunker Hill, Sarah gathered women from the town and began to nurse the wounded soldiers. She aided in establishing a makeshift hospital within the town, giving out bandages and medicine to the men. The following year in 1776, her husband was asked to send an urgent message to General George Washington by Major John Brooks. Sarah took the message instead and successfully passed enemy lines to the Charleston waterfront, where Washington and his men were stationed. After receiving the message, Washington personally thanked Sarah for her bravery and dedication to independence.

She continued supporting the Continental army throughout the war and aided in the resupply of materials during the Siege of Boston. As the British utilized the Boston Harbor, the Fultons used their own ship to purchase and transport wood and food for the troops in Cambridge. As a large shipment of wood meant for the continental tops entered the harbor, John Fulton purchased the wood to prevent the British from confiscating the material. British authorities seized the wood and transported it to their base camp despite his efforts. While in transportation, Sarah reached the British, grabbed the oxen by its horn, and turned it around. As the British aimed at her, she shouted, “Shoot Away!” impressed the British troops letting her leave with the wood that she later delivered to the troops. She continued to support the American cause for the rest of her life until her death at age 95 on November 9, 1835. 

(Photo Credit: Sarah Bradlee Fulton's Grave Marker, photographed by Eric Thomsen, posted on Find A Grave)