18 March 2014

Sarah Bradlee Fulton (1740-1835)

Sarah Bradlee, daughter of Samuel Bradlee and Mary Andrews, was born on 24 Dec 1740 in Dorchester (now part of Boston), MA. In 1762 she married John Fulton and moved to Medford, MA 
where she died 9 Nov 1835.

John and Sarah Fulton had three children: Ann W., Mary and Elizabeth Scott.

Mother of the Boston Tea Party

In addition to being a prominent member and leader of the Daughters of Liberty, Sarah is often referred to as the “Mother of the Boston Tea Party.” She is credited with the idea of disguising the men as Mohawk Indians, painting their faces and donning Native American clothing. She also anxiously awaited the men’s return to her home to dispose of their disguises and remove the stained red paint from their faces in order to conceal their identities.

This was not the end of her involvement in the war effort. Two years later, after the Battle of Bunker Hill (17 Jun 1775), Sarah voluntarily rallied women to nurse and tend to wounded soldiers. She came to an open space by Wade’s Tavern between the bridge and South Street armed with baskets full of lint, bandages and other basic medicinal remedies of that time to act as surgeon to the injured men. 

In March of 1776 Major John Brooks of Medford needed an urgent message to be delivered to General George Washington. He called upon the Fulton family for aid. Sarah volunteered to carry the message alone through the enemy lines of the Charleston waterfront; she did so successfully and later returned home. Washington later visited the Fultons to thank Sarah for the dangerous mission she undertook. 

As the British laid siege to Boston, the Fultons used their own ships as protection and often rowed across the river to seek fuel and wood in Medford. Aware of what a shipment of wood meant for the American troops at Cambridge, Sarah sent her husband to buy the wood, hoping that the laws regarding personal property would be respected. But this was not so: The British confiscated the wood from Mr. Fulton. Sarah pursued the British until she reached them, reportedly grabbing the oxen by the horns, turning them around and leading them away even as the British prepared to shoot her. She simply told them to “shoot away” and the British, so astonished by her defiance, surrendered the wood to her without resistance.

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