The notion of Republican Motherhood emerged around the time of the American Revolution. This idea stated that to have a strong republic, the young United States needed empowered, educated, and virtuous women. This was a shift away from previous Puritan preachings which argued that women should be like servants to men. Supporters of Republican Motherhood were influenced by the same Enlightenment thinkers who set the philosophical agenda for the new nation. During the war, many women ran households and managed the family business in the absence of their husbands and fathers. Since childrearing was left almost exclusively to the mothers, virtuous and educated mothers were essential to raise virtuous and educated children.
With all this in mind, we can consider Eliza Pinckney as one of the more accomplished early examples of Republican Mothers. Since she was active during the colonial period, Eliza cannot be considered a true Republican Mother. However, she did display the traits that exemplified one.
When just a teenager, Eliza managed her father's three plantations in South Carolina while he was away on military duty in the West Indies. This experience served her well later in life when, as a widow, she managed the plantations of her deceased husband. Eliza was also quite the entrepreneur. She spearheaded the cultivation of indigo in North America, which fueled the South Carolina economy for a generation. She also converted her plantation to be one of the most successful silk producers in the region. This enterprising spirit is one of the major traits of Republican Motherhood.
Furthermore, Eliza Pickney raised two well-educated and successful sons. Mothers in the new United States were expected to raise children to benefit the nation. Eliza's sons, Charles and Thomas, would grow up to become well-known diplomats and politicians. Charles credited his mother more than once in his letters for being a positive influence.