The Women of the House by Jean Zimmerman
How a Colonial She-Merchant Built a Mansion, a Fortune, and a Dynasty

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Synopsis

The remarkable Margaret Hardenbroeck Philipse arrived in New Amsterdam from Holland in 1659, a brash and ambitious twenty-two-year-old bent on making her way in the New World. She promptly built an empire of trading ships, furs, and real estate that included all of Westchester County. The Dutch called such women "she-merchants," and Margaret became the wealthiest in the colony, while raising five children and keeping a spotless linen closet.
Zimmerman deftly traces the astonishing rise of Margaret and the Philipse women who followed her, who would transform Margaret's storehouse on the banks of the Hudson into a veritable mansion, Philipse Manor Hall. The last Philipse to live there, Mary Philipse Morris-the "It" girl of mid-1700s New York-was even courted by George Washington. But privilege couldn't shelter the family from the Revolution, which raged on Mary's doorstep.

Mining extensive primary sources, Zimmerman brings us into the parlors, bedrooms, counting-houses, and parties of early colonial America and vividly restores a forgotten group of women to life.

 

About Jean Zimmerman

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Jean Zimmerman is the author of four books, including Made from Scratch: Reclaiming the Pleasures of the American Hearth. She lives just north of Philipse Manor Hall in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York.
 
Published August 6, 2007 by Mariner Books. 400 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, War. Non-fiction

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She notes that married women’s property rights were eroded when the English took over New Amsterdam, and she touches on the dangers that Loyalists in New York faced during the Revolutionary War.

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Publishers Weekly

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When she died three decades later, Margaret was an enormously rich, twice-married mother of five with a real estate empire stretching from Westchester and New Jersey to Barbados and a fleet of trading ships trafficking in slaves, furs, tobacco, textiles and molasses.

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BookPage

they dealt in furs, linens and other textiles, tobacco and slaves ( neither Margaret nor virtually any of her American contemporaries saw trafficking in slaves as wrong, Zimmerman tells us).Almost half of the book tells Margaret's story, but Zimmerman also paints vivid portraits of three other w...

Jun 25 2015 | Read Full Review of The Women of the House: How a...

BookPage

When Margaret Hardenbroeck Philipse died in 1691, at the age of 53, she was the richest woman in what was then the English province of New York.

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they dealt in furs, linens and other textiles, tobacco and slaves ( neither Margaret nor virtually any of her American contemporaries saw trafficking in slaves as wrong, Zimmerman tells us).Almost half of the book tells Margaret's story, but Zimmerman also paints vivid portraits of three other w...

Jul 31 2016 | Read Full Review of The Women of the House: How a...

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