By 1779, the Revolutionary War had been dragging on for four years. The disruption to trade, agriculture, and daily life left communities struggling to survive. For example, a quarter of the city of New York was destroyed in the great fire after the American troops retreated in 1776. But the British could not spend money or effort to rebuild while battles were happening elsewhere, so the destroyed parts of the city became a semi-permanent tent city, home to the most desperate Loyalist refugees from all over the thirteen colonies.
This document is a broadside, a cheaply printed sheet of paper that was made to be distributed fast and far. Very little is known about Molly Gutridge, the author, except that she lived in Marblehead, Massachusetts. Given her home town, she was very likely a middle- or lower-class woman connected to the fishing and whaling trade in some way.
Beyond giving us a fascinating glimpse into the hardships faced by civilians during the war, this poem is also striking because it does not take a side. According to Molly, everyone, Patriot or Loyalist, is responsible for the current crisis, and everyone suffers alike. Her only hope for relief is that everyone will realize their mistake, and God will forgive them.