Monday, March 12, 2012

Women Sacrifice During the Revolution

On March 12, 1776, in Baltimore, Maryland, a public notice appeared in the local paper recognizing the sacrifice of women to the cause of the revolution.  "The necessity of taking all imaginable care of those who may happen to be wounded in the country's cause, urges us to address our humane ladies, to lend us their kind assistance in furnishing us with linen rags and old sheeting, for bandages." 

On and off the battlefield, women were known to support the revolutionary cause by providing nursing assistance.  However, this was not their only form of aid or sacrifice to the cause.  The boycotts that united the colonies against British taxation required female participation far more than male. In fact, the men designing the non-importation agreements generally chose to boycott products used mostly by women.  Tea and cloth are the two best examples.

When we read of the bravery of the male colonists dressing up as Mohawk Indians and dumping large volumes of tea into Boston Harbor as a form of opposition to the Tea Act, few realize that women, not men, drank most of the tea.  Samuel Adams and his friends dumped the tea in the harbor, but they were far more likely to drink rum than tea when they returned to their homes.  Similarly, when John Adams and other men in power thought it best to stop importing fine British fabrics with which to make their clothing during the protests of the late 1760s, it had little impact on their daily lives.  Wearing homespun cloth may not have been as comfortable nor look as refined as their regular clothing, but it was Abigail Adams and other colonial women who were forced to spend hours spinning the cloth to create their family's wardrobes.

According to history, in 1776 Abigail begged John to remember the ladies while drafting the U.S. Constitution.  She was not begging a favor, but demanding payment of an enduring debt.


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