Celebrating 17 years

The Involvement of "The Ladies"
Economic Support of Women during the American Revolution

« Continued from previous page

Defining Female Patriotism

In essence, patriotism in general means being an active member in the succession of a particular idea, like independence from a depriving nation. In this case, there is a strong correlation between the acts of women being patriotically active in the success of the war. During and after the Revolution, several perspectives, which are essential to defining patriotism, came about regarding the idea of females being patriots.

One such case is with a poem that was published in the Maryland Gazette, entitled "The Attempt is Praise," written by an unknown soldier. The poem does just what the title suggests, to flatter the work done by women during the war. The term "mirrors of virtue," used within the text, is a very strong indication of how soldiers in particular felt about the labor done by the ladies. The analogy of the mirror, also suggest that they influenced men in the matter of gaining freedom. By using this statement, the author points out that the women that helped were of great assets, and the rest of his text asserts that the war would not be won if it had not been for their efforts. The author poetically writes, "Who nobly daring, stem despotic sway,… And shine the patriot wonders of the day;… For lo! These sons her glorious race renew,…[Cheered] by such gifts, and smiles and…[prayers], from—you."24

The attempt to praise the women of the new nation was general, and Washington made a similar expression in more formal terms when we wrote to some of the ladies regarding their contributions, saying that they had "exceeded what could have been expected, and…entitles them to an equal place with any who have preceded them in the walk of female patriotism."25

There were, on the other hand, views that looked at the ladies associations in suspicion of their activities. An example of this is Anna Rawle who, in a letter to her mother, told a story about an entire company of armed men who were going door to door in search of guns inside the households. Based on the context, these were probably British soldiers in search of weapons in American homes. At any rate, she said that the men came into several neighbor's homes and then finally came to her own residence, where they thoroughly searched everything in her house, from the closets to her locked trunks, while accusing that the others that lived with her were hiding the weapons in the house. They were certain that she had weapons on her property, but after finding nothing they moved on.

Rawle then states that the houses that were owned by the women in the ladies association were treated differently, because she said the soldiers passed by after the women paid them off. She writes, "But of all absurdities the Ladies going about for money exceeded everything; they were so extremely [important] that people were obliged to give them something to get rid of them."26 It is assumed that people like Rawle saw the women simply as conniving little women who could get their way out of anything by bribing others with money. In this instance, the women were looked at as crooks instead of patriots.

Conclusion

The ideas about the efforts of women in the economic supports of the American Revolution are strongly related to the success of the war. The women who were active in raising money and providing other supplies for the troops became important because they were doing something that no one else was around to do. In addition, this sense of economic activity also led them to being involved politically, whether they meant to or not, as well as being gloried with the definition of being female patriots. Their mere contribution to military actions, which was aiding the military, made this idea of political activity come alive for them. The women of the Revolution, like Esther Reed, were left on their own with few men active in the community, which led to them being in leadership positions and involved at a much higher degree than they had perceived in earlier history.

 

Bibliography

Documents

"Account of Donations Receiv'd by the Ladies in their Several Districts for the Soldiers of the American Army, June 1780." Accessed February 2006 from Women and Social Movement in the United States. Available at http://alexanderstreet6.com.
ezproxy.lib.apsu.edu/wasm/wasmrestricted/amrev/doc15.htm.

Letters

Anna Rawle to Mrs. Shoemaker. 30 June 1780. In Letters and Diaries of Rebecca Shoemaker and Her Daughters Anna and Margaret Rawle. Accessed February 2006 from Women and Social Movement in the United States, 1600-2000. Available at http://alexanderstreet6.com.ezproxy.lib.apsu.edu/wasm/wasm restricted/amrev/doc14.htm.

Esther Reed to George Washington. 31 July 1780. Accessed February 2006 from Women and Social Movement in the United States, 1600-2000. Available at http://alexanderstreet6.com.ezproxy.lib.apsu.edu/wasm/wasmrestricted/amrev/doc20.htm.

Esther Reed to George Washington, 4 July 1780. Accessed February 2006 from Women and Social Movement in the United States, 1600-2000. Available at http://alexanderstreet6.com.ezproxy.lib.apsu.edu/wasm/wasmrestricted/amrev/doc14.htm.

George Washington to Mrses. Francis, Hillegas, Clarkson, Bache, and Blair. 13 February 1781. Accessed February 2006 from Women and Social Movement in the United States, 1600-2000. Available at http://alexanderstreet6.com.ezproxy.

lib.apsu.edu/wasm/wasmrestricted/amrev/doc27.htm.

George Washington to Esther Reed. 14 July 1780. Accessed February 2006 from Women and Social Movement in the United States, 1600-2000. Available at http://alexanderstreet6.com.ezproxy.lib.apsu.edu/wasm/wasmrestricted/amrev/doc14.htm.

George Washington to Mary Dagworthy. 6 August 1780. Accessed April 2006 from Library of Congress. Available at Available at http://memory.loc.gov/cgibin /query/P?mgw:6:./temp/~ammem_SqJM::..

George Washington to Esther Reed. 10 August 1780. In The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources: 1745-1799, vol. 19. Accessed February 2006 from Women and Social Movement in the United States, 1600-2000. Available at http://alexanderstreet6.com.ezproxy.lib.apsu.edu/wasm/wasm
restricted/amrev/doc22.htm.

Marquis de Lafayette to Esther Reed. 25 June 1780. Accessed February 2006 from Women and Social Movement in the United States, 1600-2000. Available at http://alexanderstreet6.com.ezproxy.lib.apsu.edu/wasm/wasmrestricted/amrev/doc13.htm.

Sarah Bache to Benjamin Franklin. 9 September 1780. In The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, 36 vols. Accessed February 2006 from Women and Social Movement in the United States, 1600-2000. Available at http://alexanderstreet6.com.ezproxy.
lib.apsu.edu/wasm/wasmrestricted/amrev/doc23.htm.

Sarah Bache to Mrs. Gray. 1 July 1780. Kane Family Letters (Under Gray). Accessed February 2006 from Women and Social Movement in the United States, 1600-2000. Available at http://alexanderstreet6.com.ezproxy.lib.apsu.edu/wasm/wasm
restricted/amrev/doc16.htm.

Samuel Miles to Anthony Wayne. 3 January 1781. Accessed February 2006 from Women and Social Movement in the United States, 1600-2000. Available at http://alexanderstreet6.com.ezproxy.lib.apsu.edu/wasm/wasmrestricted/amrev/doc24.htm.

Published Texts

"Esther Reed Obituary". In Pennsylvania Gazette. (27 September 1780). Accessed February 2006 from Women and Social Movement in the United States, 1600-2000. Available at http://alexanderstreet6.com.ezproxy.lib.apsu.edu/wasm/wasm
restricted/amrev/doc26.htm.

"Ideas, Relative to the Manner of Forwarding to the American Soldiers, the Presents of the American Women". In Ideas, Relative to the Manner of Forwarding to the American Soldiers, the Presents of the American Women (John Dunlap, Philadelphia, PA, 1780) Accessed February 2006 from Women and Social Movement in the United States, 1600-2000. Available at http://alexanderstreet6.com.ezproxy.lib.apsu.edu/wasm/wasm restricted/amrev/doc6b.htm.

"Sentiments of an American Woman". In Sentiments of an American Woman (John Dunlap, Philadelphia, PA, 1780). Accessed February 2006 from Women and Social Movement in the United States, 1600-2000. Available at http://alexanderstreet6.com.ezproxy.lib.apsu.edu/wasm/wasmrestricted/amrev/doc6a.htm.

"Sentiments of a Lady in New Jersey." New-Jersey Gazette. 12 July 1780. In The American Revolution: Writings from the War of Independence (New York: Literary Classics of the United States, 2001).

"The Attempt is Praise." The Maryland Gazette. 5 January 1781. Accessed March 2006 from Women and Social Movement in the United States, 1600-2000. Available at http://alexanderstreet6.com.ezproxy.lib.apsu.edu/wasm/wasm
restricted/amrev/doc28.htm.

Secondary Sources

Commetti, E. "Women in the American Revolution" The New England Quarterly. Vol. 20. No. 3 (September 1947). Hymowitz, C. and Weissman, M. A History of Women in America. (New York: Bantam Books, 1978).

James, J.W. Changing Ideas About Women in the United States, 1776-1825 (New York: Garland Publishing, 1981).

Kerber, L. K. Women of the Republic: Intellect and Ideology in Revolutionary America. (North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press, 1980).

Neimeyer, C.P. America Goes to War: A Social History of the Continental Army. (New York: New York University Press, 1996).

Plankas, R.F. "The Sentiments of an American Woman." (Library of Congress: American Memories) [Internet]. Accessed 4 April 2006. Available from http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/ awhhtml/awhendp/index.html.

Roberts, C. Founding Mothers: The Women who raised our Nation. (New York: Harper Collins Publishing, 2004).

References

1. Carol Hymowitz and Michaele Weissman, A History of Women in America (New York: Bantam Books, 1978), 2-26.

2. Elizabeth Cometti, “Women in the American Revolution,” The New England Quarterly, 20:3, (September 1974), 329-46.

3. Also referred to as Ladies Association of Philadelphia.

4. Sentiments of an American Woman, (Philadelphia: John Dunlap, 1780), Accessed from Women and Social Movements in the United States 1600-2000, Available at http://alexanderstreet6.com.ezproxy.
lib.apsu.edu/wasm/wasmrestricted/amrev/doc6.htm.

5. The author of Sentiments of a Lady in New-Jersey could possibly be Mary Dagworthy because of her leadership in New Jersey’s organization.

6. The Sentiments of a Lady in New-Jersey, New-Jersey Gazette, 12 July 1780, in The American Revolution: Writing from the War of Independence (New York: Literary Classics of the United States, 2001), 575-77.

7. Esther Reed Obituary, Pennsylvania Gazette, 27 September 1780, Accessed from Women and Social Movements in the United States 1600-2000, Available at http://alexanderstreet6.com.ezproxy.
lib.apsu.edu/wasm/wasmrestricted/amrev/doc26.htm.

8. Sara Bache to Mrs. Gray, 1 July 1780, Kane Family Letters (under Gray), Accessed from Women and Social Movements in the United States 1600-2000, Available at http://alexanderstreet6.com.ezproxy.
lib.apsu.edu/wasm/wasmrestricted/amrev/doc16.htm.

9. Charles Patrick Neimeyer, America Goes to War: A Social History of the Continental Army, (New York: New York University Press, 1996), 125-26.

10. “Account of Donations Received by the Ladies in their Several Districts for the Soldiers of the American Army,” June 1780, Accessed from Women and Social Movements in the United States 1600-2000, Available at http://alexanderstreet6.com.ezproxy.lib.apsu.edu/wasm/wasmrestricted/amrev/doc15.htm..

11. “Ideas, Related to the Manner of Forwarding Money to the American Soldiers, the Presents of the American Women (Philadelphia: John Dunlap, 1780), Accessed from Women and Social Movements in the United States 1600-2000, Available at http://alexanderstreet6.com.ezproxy.lib.apsu.edu/wasm/
wasmrestricted/amrev/doc6b.htm.

12. George Washington to Mary Dagworthy, 6 August 1780, George Washington Papers, Series 4, General Correspondence, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Available at http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/P?mgw:6:./temp/~ammem_SqJM::.

13. Marquis de Lafayette to Esther Reed, 25 June 1780, Accessed from Women and Social Movements in the United States 1600-2000, Available at http://alexanderstreet6.com.ezproxy.lib.apsu.edu/wasm/
wasmrestricted/amrev/doc13.htm.

14. Esther Reed to George Washington, 31 July 1780, George Washington Papers, Series 4, Accessed from Women and Social Movements in the United States 1600-2000, Available at http://alexanderstreet6.com.ezproxy.lib.apsu.edu/wasm/wasmrestricted/amrev/doc20.htm. .

15. George Washington to Esther Reed, 10 August 1780, George Washington Papers, Series 4, Accessed from Women and Social Movements in the United States 1600-2000, Available at http://alexanderstreet6.com.ezproxy.lib.apsu.edu/wasm/wasmrestricted/amrev/doc22.htm.

16. Samuel Miles to Anthony Wayne, 3 January 1781, Wayne Papers, Accessed from Women and Social Movements in the United States 1600-2000, Available at http://alexanderstreet6.com.ezproxy.
lib.apsu.edu/wasm/wasmrestricted/amrev/doc24.htm.

17. Ibid.

18. Sarah Bache to Benjamin Franklin, 9 September 1780, in The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, Accessed from Women and Social Movements in the United States 1600-2000, Available at http://alexanderstreet6.com.ezproxy.lib.apsu.edu/wasm/wasmrestricted/amrev/doc23.htm.

19. Sentiments of American Woman.

20. Cocke Roberts, Founding Mothers: The Women who raised our Nation, (New York: HarperCollins Publishing, Inc., 2004), 118-30.

21. Rosemary Fry Plankas, “The Sentiments of an American Woman” (Library of Congress: American Memories) [Internet], accessed 4 April 2006, available from http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/
awhhtml/awhendp/index.html.

22. Linda K. Kerber, Women of the Republic: Intellect and Ideology in Revolutionary America, (North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press, 1980), pp. 74.

23. Janet Wilson James, Changing Ideas About Women in the United States, 1776-1825, (New York: Garland Publishing, 1981), pp. 68.

24. A Soldier, “The Attempt is Praise,” The Maryland Gazette, 5 January 1781, Accessed from Women and Social Movements in the United States 1600-2000, Available at http://alexanderstreet6.com.ezproxy.
lib.apsu.edu/wasm/wasmrestricted/amrev/doc28.htm. .

25. George Washington to Mrses. Francis, Hillegas, Clarkson, Bache, and Blair, 13 February 1781, Accessed from Women and Social Movements in the United States 1600-2000, Available at http://alexanderstreet6.com.ezproxy.lib.apsu.edu/wasm/wasmrestricted/amrev/doc27.htm.

26. Anna Rawle to Mrs. Shoemaker, 30 June 1780, in Letters and Diaries of Rebecca Shoemaker and her daughters Anna and Margaret Rawle, Accessed from Women and Social Movements in the United States 1600-2000, Available at http://alexanderstreet6.com.ezproxy.lib.apsu.edu/wasm/
wasmrestricted/amrev/doc14.htm.