Term Paper: Boston Tea Party When John Adams

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Boston Tea Party

When John Adams was participating in the Continental Congress forming a new government that would exclude women, his wife, Abigail, wrote to him about the appearance of a new American phenomenon: the female mob. Women, although supposed to stay out of the affairs of men, especially having to do with a possible revolution, were doing their share of breaking off from mother England and declaring independence. In fact, although they do not get top billing, or hardly any recognition at all, women were directly involved with the Boston Tea Party. This historic event may have gone differently if the "fairer sex" had not participated.

Women were not permitted to vote or fight before or during the American Revolutionary War for Independence. Yet, they found additional ways to lend their support to the colonial fight for freedom. To fight the British, these women used the primary power of their gender. They had the right to choose what products they were willing to buy and what other items they would boycott. In addition, many women became politically involved by writing opinionated letters, essays and poems and sending them anonymously to local newspapers. One anonymous poem in the 1768 Pennsylvania Gazette expressed, "Let the Daughters of Liberty nobly arise." It is believed to be written by a Quaker woman from Philadelphia. Women were calling on one another to stand up to participate.

The first several stanzas, as noted below, criticized colonial men for not doing more to oppose unfair British laws

American Daughters of Liberty

If the sons, so degenerate! The blessings despise,

Let the Daughters of Liberty nobly arise;

And though 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 traffic be dull!)

Stand firmly resolv'd, and bid Grenville to see,

That rather than freedom we part with our tea,

And well as we love the dear draught when a-dry, as American Patriots our taste we deny

Women fought the British Stamp Act that stipulated colonial citizens had to pay a tax on all printed paper, including newspapers, marriage licenses and playing cards. When this was repealed, the British taxed new items, such as paint, shoes, and clothes. Once again, the Daughters of Liberty boycotted the goods. Those who had earlier purchased British fabric started to raise sheep, spin their own thread and weave cloth, and proudly wear these homespun clothes to symbolize their strength. A leader of the Daughters of Liberty from Massachusetts wrote of this new clothing: "I hope there are none of us but would sooner wrap ourselves in and goatskin than buy English goods of a people who have insulted us in such a scandalous way."

In Endenton, North Carolina, in a document that is now known as the Edenton Proclamation, a group of fifty-one women announced that a ban of British tea and cloth. The female signers stated they had the right and duty to take part in the political events taking place. Since English political history did not provide any guidelines on how women could use their political rights, the Endenton activists simply stated that they had political rights that they intended to use. Some historians say that these decisions made by women when buying goods may have been as important as those men made when they picked up their guns.

When the Tea Act was established in 1773, which allowed British merchants to sell tea in the colonies for less money than other vendors, many women refused to buy tea as well. Since they were unable to grow English tea in America, they used local plants, such as raspberry and mint leaves, verbena and lemon balm, roses, violets, and goldenrod to brew liberty tea." Another popular hot drink was made from a New Jersey plant aptly named Ceanthus americanus. Even the "daughters" of the Daughters of Liberty followed their mothers' actions: Nine-year-old Susan Boudinot was offered a cup a tea when visiting the royal governor of New Jersey. She accepted the cup, brought it to her mouth and, when realizing it was British tea, curtsied and tossed it out the window.


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