J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Sunday, October 26, 2014

“The 18th-Century Woman” in Arlington, 28 Oct.

The Arlington Historical Society will host a lecture on Tuesday, 28 October, on “The 18th-Century Woman” by Gail White Usher. This is part of a yearlong series with the theme of “Women’s Work.”

The event description is basic:
Gain greater understanding of what it meant to be a middling or working-class woman in New England prior to the Revolutionary War, through diaries, letters, paintings, and objects.
Usher comes to Arlington from Roseland Cottage in Woodstock, Connecticut. She has also worked at the Bowen House in that town and at the Daniel Benton Homestead in Tolland, and she’s an avid reenactor.

This event starts at 7:30 P.M. in the Masonic Temple at 19 Academy Street.

As another look at eighteenth-century American women, here’s a poem that appeared in the 25 Dec 1769 issue of the Pennsylvania Chronicle, headlined “The Female Patriots: Addressed to the Daughters of Liberty in America.”
Since the Men, from a Party or Fear of a Frown,
Are kept by a Sugar-plumb quietly down.
Supinely asleep—and depriv’d of their Sight,
Are stripp’d of their Freedom, and robb’d of their Right;
If the Sons, so degenerate! the Blessings despise,
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:—
(Then Merchants import till your Stores are all full,
May the Buyers be few, and your Traffick be dull!)
Stand firmly resolv’d, and bid Grenville to see,
That rather than Freedom we part with our Tea,
And week as we love the dear Draught when a-dry
As American Patriots our Taste we deny—
This exhortation to women to boycott goods from Britain continued for twenty more lines. A footnote identified the “Taxables” as “Tea, Paper, Glass, and Paints.” George Grenville had not actually been in office as Chancellor of the Exchequer or First Minister for years.

Those lines were credited only to “A FEMALE.” For a while Milcah Martha Moore got credit because the poem appeared in her commonplace book. But now scholars attribute the lines to Hannah Griffitts (1727-1817).


Joe Bauman said...

I'm surprised to see the Sons of Liberty referenced as early as 1769. When did the group begin? Thanks, Joe

J. L. Bell said...

Isaac Barré, a war hero and Member of Parliament, coined the phrase “sons of liberty” during debate over the Stamp Act in 1765. American politicians adopted the term by the end of the year.

Some authors have presented the phrase as the name of a formal group, but at least in Boston I don't think that's the case. It seems rather to have been a broad label for any men protesting new Crown revenue measures.