Emily L asked in Arts & HumanitiesHistory · 1 decade ago

what was femininity like during the American revolutionary era? ?

what was femininity like during the American revolutionary era?

3 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Women had an important part in the years leading up to the revolution. Since British goods were to be boycotted, women would have to step into the breach and provide the cloth and foodstuffs that could no longer be brought in from overseas. The housewives were also the family shoppers and they were asked to shun all the 'taxables' - items that the British imposed levies on. Getting the cooperation of the women was the critical challlenge "without which tis impossible to succeed" said the South Carolina patriot Christopher Gadsden in 1769.

    Southern ladies wore dresses made of homespun cloth to their fancy balls, and they joined their husbands and fathers in making political toasts and singing patriotic songs. The northern women organized spinning bees and were honoured for their production of homemade material, which they proudly presented to local officials. A much-quoted poem addressed to the "Daughters of Liberty" in 1768 derided men for allowing themselves to be stripped of their rights and urged:

    "Let the Daughters of Liberty, nobly arise,

    And tho' we've no Voice, but a negative here,

    The use of the Taxables, let us forbear,

    Stand firmly resolved and bid Grenville to see

    That rather than Freedom, we'll part with our Tea."

    As much as the male rebels wanted to encourage their wives and daugthers in defiance, they still liked to picture patriotic women engaged in safe, feminine forms of protest. The Virginia Gazette announced approvingly that the young women of Amelia County had "entered into a resolution not to permit the addresses of any person...unless he has served in the American armies to prove, by his valour, that he is deserving of their love." But the women were actually required to do far more than boycott tea and vet their boyfriends for political correctness. If men were going to have to fight, women were going to have to take over their farms and businesses, and in some parts of the country, endure life under an army of occupation.

    "We are in no way dispirted here" wrote Abigail Adams, who was holding down the fort at the family farm in Massachussetts. "We possess a Spirit that will not be conquered. If our Men are all drawn off and we should be attacked, you would find a race of Amazons in America." Abigal was sheltering soldiers and refugees from the conflict, and as the war approached Boston, she made contingency plans for grabbing her children and fleeing into the woods. When dysentery struck the area, her home became a hospital. She raised their five children, managed the finances, ran the farm, and kept the house throughout the war.

    In the summer of 1777, more than 100 Boston housewives gathered in front of the store of one Thomas Boylston. They were, one observer reported "reputable Clean drest Women Some of them with Silk gownes on", and they were angry about Boylston's extortionate wartime prices. They were prepared to boycott tea, but not to let a merchant gouge them for coffee. Abigal Adams wrote to her husband that the women "assembled with a cart and trucks, marched down to the Ware House and demanded the keys, which he refused to deliver, upon which one of them sezed him by his Neck and tossed him into the cart." Boylston gave up his keys, and the women opened the warehouse, took out the coffee they required, and drove away. "A large concoures of Men stood amazd silent Spectators of the whole transaction" wrote Abigail gleefully.

    The women sometimes took a more aggressive part in the war - one South Carolina man claimed the women in his state "talk as familiarly of shedding blood and destroying the Tories as the men do." In Massachusetts, a group of women disguised in their husbands' clothes intercepted a Tory captain en route to Boston, took the important papers he was carrying, and escorted him to Groton jail. In 1776, when Brtiish troops took control of New York, the city was engulfed with fire, which protected the retreating Americans. The blaze had been started by a female rebel, who was found in a cellar.

    A few women donned male clothing and fought with the Revolutionary Army. Deborah Sampson Gannett fought for more than two years before being discovered, and her hsuband was later granted a pension as the widower of a REvolutionary soldier. Far more women travelled with their soldier husbands, cooking, washing, mending, and sometimes replacing them in the line. Margaret Corbin stepped in for her slain husband at the Battle of Fort Washington and was severely wounded, losing the use of one arm. The Continental Congress awarded her a pension and she was eventually buried at the West Point Cemetery.

    Source(s): 'America's Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates and Heroines' by Gail Collins
  • Most people were farmers, I think, and children were an asset because they would help out with the work, so women were wifes,first, and took care of children and provided meals to the family and washed their clothes and was always there for her children and I guess she did about everything else, too.

  • 1 decade ago

    it was harder and tougher cause women were seen instead of heard, or burned at the stake!

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