These women were, at crucial times, sagacious in decision making and skillful in executing their decisions. They made such a distinctive mark on the events of their time to be remembered by subsequent generations as more than breeders of male heirs. Each woman's story relates how a dynamic woman was able to swim against the strong currents of patriarchy. To make explicit the relevancy of this study, the brief biographies are related to such current feminist issues as surrogate parenting, gender stereotyping, and civil disobedience over unequal treatment by governments.
Influenced by Methodists George Whitefield and John Wesley, Newton became prominent among those favoring a Methodist-style revival in the Church of England. This movement stressed personal conversion, simple worship, emotional enthusiasm, and social justice. While pastoring a poor flock in Olney, he and poet William Cowper produced a hymnal containing such perennial favorites as "Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken" and "God Moves in a Mysterious Way". Later, while serving a church in London, Newton raised British consciousness on the immorality of the slave trade. The account he gave to Parliament on the atrocities he had witnessed helped William Wilberforce obtain legislation to abolish the slave trade in England.
Newton's life story convinced many who are "found" after being "lost" to sing Gospel hymns as they lobbied for civil rights legislation. His close involvement with both capitalism and evangelicalism, the main economic and religious forces of his era, provide a fascinating case study of the relationship of Christians to their social environment. In an afterword on Newtonian Christianity, Phipps explains Newton's critique of Karl Marx's thesis that religious ideals are always the effect of what produces the most profit. Phipps relies onaccounts Newton gives in his ship journal, diary, letters, and sermons for this most readable scholarly narrative.