Mercy Otis Warren was born in Barnstable, Massachusetts, the daughter of James and Mary (Allyne) Otis. In 1754, she married James Warren (1726-1808), a prosperous merchant and farmer whose family was as prominent in the political and social circles of Massachusetts society as the Otis family. They lived in Plymouth for many years, but in 1781 purchased Governor Thomas Hutchinson's house in Milton.
James Warren was active in politics, and through her husband's and her own family connections, Mercy Warren became close friends with many of the leading revolutionary families of the day, i.e. Adams, Hancock, Washington and Winthrop. Using her talent for literature and public affairs, she began writing poetry and political satires which were widely circulated and became useful tools in promoting the revolutionary cause.
After the revolution, her family's ardent republican opinions, her vocal support for the French Revolution, and her insistence on educational rights for women, were attacked by an influential and powerful lobby of federalist conservatives in the state, and the family lost much of its influence. During this period, Mercy Warren wrote the History of the Rise, Progress, and Termination of the American Revolution, a three volume work which is still looked upon as a useful record of events and a valuable commentary on the foremost personalities of the time. The History proved to be both popular and controversial when John Adams took exception to certain passages in the book in which he felt unjustly treated by the author. For several years, he and Mercy Warren exchanged a heated correspondence on the issue until a reconciliation was brought about shortly before her death in 1814.