Though women’s roles in the American Revolution are not as well known as men’s, it is not because they did not contribute to the fight. However, outside a Women’s History course, many Americans would be hard pressed to name any woman who did contribute to the war effort. (Maybe Betsy Ross- credited with sewing the First American Flag.) Yet this is not because women did not play an essential role in the fight to gain our freedom from England. Women’s support for the American cause extended beyond their customary place in the home; into politics through commentary in newspapers, into resistance through boycotting British imports, into support and financing for the war effort, and for some, into fighting alongside the troops or supporting the troops on site of battle.
Prior to the American Revolution, women were securely domesticated, with few women stepping outside the sphere of home and hearth into the business world. In Through Women’s Eyes, Ellen Carol DuBois and Lynn Dumenil state “As diverse as the lives of North American women were in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, there were some commonalities. All women operated within a fairly rigid sexual division of labor, although the actual tasks assigned to them varied from culture to culture. Most women’s roles included childbearing, childrearing, and food preparation… With some exceptions, women shared an exclusion from direct political participation.” (DuBois & Dumenil pg 76)This changed greatly in the years lead...
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..., carried water to the troops, and “when her husband fell at the Battle of Monmouth, New Jersey, in 1778 she took his place, keeping a cannon loaded in the face of enemy fire, for which she later received a pension from the state of Pennsylvania” (pg 107).
When the Revolutionary War came to a close, many women expected the freedoms so touted in the Declaration of Independence to be transferred to them, only to be disappointed. Though given the right to vote in New Jersey, it was repealed on the basis that women were easily manipulated by men (pg120).
As for African Americans, the case of Mum Bett led some Northern states, such as Massachusetts to eventually pass legislation freeing slaves. Vermont was the only state that allowed immediate emancipation, however (pg115). In other states the process took much longer, up to 28 years for the unborn children of slaves.
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