Judith Sargent Murray (1751–1820) was an American writer and early proponent of women’s rights. Born into a wealthy Massachusetts shipping family, Murray received a much more comprehensive education than most women of her time. In 1769, she married sea captain John Stevens, who died during a voyage in 1786. In the 1770s, inspired by the growing revolutionary ferment, Murray began writing about women’s rights and their roles in society, and promoted the idea of republican motherhood. In 1784, she published her first essay, “Desultory Thoughts upon the Utility of Encouraging a Degree of Self-Complacency, Especially in Female Bosoms.” She later married John Murray, a minister in the Universalist church. Judith continued to write poems and essays. From 1792 to 1794 she wrote a column in Massachusetts Magazine called “The Gleaner,” which addressed political issues and women’s rights and roles in the early republic. She also wrote two unsuccessful plays and later edited and published her husband’s papers.

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