Colonial Boycotts (Mon, 4 Mar 1996 07:07:45 EST)
In my dissertation I am attempting to do a gendered study of the various colonial non-importation and non-consumption movements during the Revolutionary Period. Women's movement into the political sphere as a result of their involvement in via both private and public activities (from spinning contests to crowd protests) is of primary interest to me.
I say "attempting to do" because I'm having little success in locating relevant source materials. This appears to be a topic that has been somewhat neglected. While that makes it a great topic for a dissertation, it also presents (as I'm sure you are all well aware) some real obstacles. So I thought I might turn to the list for assistance.
I would appreciate any help the list members could provide in locating relevant research materials. While I am especially interested in primary sources related to women's involvement in these movements (letters, diaries, possibly sermons, etc.), I would also value recommendations for secondary works. (Most secondary accounts of the Revolutionary Period merely mention these 'agreements' in passing -- I know I learned what I know about it from somewhere, but in my current research I rarely find more than a few paragraphs devoted to this topic.) Newspaper citations would also be most welcome as I will begin searching the microfilm prints this week.
Thanks in advance. And if anyone is interested I will be more than glad to compile and email the responses I get.
Rick Friedline email@example.com
Department of History
University of Iowa
Dear Mr. Friedline,
The work to check out on gender and boycotts is that of Barbara Clark Smith. You probably know of her article, "Food Rioters and the American Revolution (William and Mary Quarterly, 1995) but you should also consult her dissertation (Yale 1985) which treats boycotts of the 1760s-70sat length. Smith is a curator at the Smithsonian Museum of American History--you might contact her there. I believe she is working on a book on the subject.
Recent summaries of boycott activities can be found in: relevant articles in Greene and Pole, eds., THE BLACKWELL ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION (with references to more detailed works); latter parts of Gary Nash, THE URBAN CRUCIBLE; some of Ann Fairfax Withington, TOWARD A MORE PERFECT UNION; essays (particularly T.H. Breen's) in Cary Carson et al., eds., OF CONSUMING INTERESTS.
A nice early (October 1764) call for frugality and changed habits of consumption, directed primarily at women, is a letter from "Philo Publicus" to the BOSTON GAZETTE, reprinted in Charles Hyneman and Donald Lutz, eds., AMERICAN POLITICAL WRITING DURING THE FOUNDING ERA 1760-1805, vol.1, pp.42-44. In addition to indicting "extravagant" clothing and furnishings, the author recommends that the colonists use natural herbal remedies, not expensive imported drugs. An interesting piece.
I also recall that Tom Doerflinger's book, A VIGOROUS SPIRIT OF ENTERPRISE, has a lot on the boycotts in Philadelphia.
On Mon, 4 Mar 1996, Rick Friedline wrote:
> In my dissertation I am attempting to do a gendered study of the various
> colonial non-importation and non-consumption movements during the
> Revolutionary Period. Women's movement into the political sphere as a result
> of their involvement in via both private and public activities (from
> spinning contests to crowd protests) is of primary interest to me.
> possibly sermons, etc.), I would also value recommendations for secondary
> paragraphs devoted to this topic.) Newspaper citations would also be most
> welcome as I will begin searching the microfilm prints this week.
If you have not done so already, you might look at:
T.H. Breen "Narrative of commercial Life: Consumption, Ideology and community on the Eve of the American Revolution" _William and Mary Quarterly_ 3rds series, vol L, no.3 (July 1993):471-501.
His footnotes in particular would likely be of use to you as he uses a variety of newspapers from Boston to South Carolina, particulary in the section in which he specifically addresses women's organizing activities.
Univ of Oregon
Re: colonial boycotts, as I remember, the letters between Abigail and John Adams touched frequently on this question. You might try the edited volume, "The Book of Abigail and John", as well as Lester J. Cappon's "The Adams-Jefferson Letters" and the MHS-edited "Papers of John Adams" for more information.
Johns Hopkins University
Perhaps you have already come across the misnamed Edenton Tea Party, which was not a tea party at all, in Edenton, NC. I have a brief note on the subject in The Papers of James Iredell. Vol.I. Elizabeth Moore of Edenton, a local historian, has worked for years to identify the women. She finds they came from different social levels and from several counties. Some years ago, at least, she was still working away, uncertain how they all came together or managed to sign the same document. Don Higginbotham, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.