American RevolutionJim Jackson
THE DAUGHTERS OF LIBERTY
The active participation of women in the Revolutionary War had an effect on the outcome. Mass political mobilization was a trademark of the protest leading to the independence of the colonies. Women’s role in this mobilization was in the church, market, and family. Women also formed volunteer societies to provide for the soldier’s material needs. Women also displayed acts of heroism on the battlefield. Despite these facts that are presented in our textbook of the important role women played in Revolutionary War effort, the image of the woman’s role in the American Revolution has been distorted by popular culture including films and television shows.
The colonial woman did play an important role in political mobilization to independence. Women often fused politics with religion, thus making the church a political institution. With preachers often theologically interpreting the struggle against the British each Sunday women often constituted the majority of the congregation. These women would participate in large public spinning events. These spinning events would often start with a church service, and the clergy often received the results of the spinning.
Women as shopkeepers and consumers also had political choices to be made in order to support the independence movement. Women merchants were pressured to sign onto the associations, which was a promise to boycott British goods. Some refused such as Anne and Betsy Cummings of Boston, and they found their names published in the local newspapers as loyalists. Women were also expected to stop drinking British tea and they were to boycott British fashions. Many women made their own clothes for themselves and their families. Other women made similar contributions to the war effort, in Northboro, Massachusetts, forty-four women spun 2,600 miles of yarn to be used in making uniforms. In addition, General Lafayette persuaded the women of Baltimore to make summer clothes for his troops. ?Generally, women’s role in the production of textiles increased during the war years. The American Manufactory of Philadelphia employed about 400 women in this line of work and individual households also made clothing for the army.?(pg202) Women also contributed in the making of bullets by collecting pewter plates, pots, and lead from window castings. ?Mrs. Nathan Sargent of Massachusetts even removed pewter inscriptions from family gravesites.?(pg202) This demonstrates the passion that many women put into the war effort. Women also had to manage farms and stores while their husbands were serving in the military. Elizabeth Adkins, recalled when her husband was drafted into military service in the summer of 1775, ?He was gone all summer? and she ?had to plow and hoe his corn to raise bread for the children. Women also served as nurses in military hospitals where they were at a greater risk of dying from disease than the soldiers in combat.?
Another important contribution made by women is the volunteer societies they formed during the war to aid the soldiers material needs. One of these organizations was The Ladies Association of Philidelphia, founded in the summer of 1780 by Esther Deberdt Reed, wife of Josheph Reed, the president of Pennsylvania, it was very successful and urged the formation of similar groups in other states. Eleven teams of women solicited door to door in the city and suburbs for money to purchase linen to make shirts for soldiers.
American RevolutionJim Jackson