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With boycotting British goods, quilting bees, and their own "Boston tea party," colonial women were very active in supporting anti-British sentiment before the American Revolution. The Sons of Liberty, a patriotic organization, created the Daughters of Liberty in response to increased taxes levied by the British government. Continue reading to see how the Daughters of Liberty impacted colonial America!
Organized after the Stamp Act in 1765, the Daughters of Liberty aided in the anti-British boycott. The group, composed entirely of women, became the sister group to the Sons of Liberty. Though the groups started locally, chapters soon appeared in each colony. The patriotic group encouraged colonists to boycott by organizing and participating in various events.
Stamp Act 1765- Act imposed by Britain in 1765 stating that all printed goods were to carry a stamp, the act greatly affected influential colonists in America
Britain levied taxes on the colonists to aid in funding the war debt incurred by the Seven Years' War. For example, the Stamp Act of 1765 mandated stamps on all printed goods. The act negatively impacted influential colonists who began to take a stance against the British parliament. Colonists organized groups such as the Sons of Liberty to promote anti-parliament sentiment. Consequently, colonists boycotted British imported goods such as tea and cloth.
The Daughters of Liberty, solely composed of women, wished to show their loyalty by also boycotting British goods.
With the passing of the Townshend Acts, the Daughters of Liberty organized various events to influence colonial participation, reigniting the boycott of British goods. The group began making tea and producing fabric. To avoid buying British tea, women created their own from various plants and called it Liberty Tea. The group ultimately became domestic manufacturers of everyday items. The women initiated a particularly influential movement surrounding the creation of homemade cloth. The group organized events known as spinning bees, where groups of women competed to see who could make the finest cloth. Newspapers quickly picked up the spinning bee movement and circulated articles describing the significant events. While the women did not participate in the initial decision to boycott, they dedicated themselves to the cause. Thus, helping to provide a strong economic foundation for a successful boycott.
On the 4th instant eighteen daughters of liberty, young ladies of good reputation, assembled at the house of doctor Ephraim Brown, in this town, in consequence of an invitation of that gentleman, who had discovered a laudable zeal for the introducing Home Manufacturers. There they exhibited a fine example of industry, by spinning from sunrise until dark, and displayed a spirit for saving their sinking country, rarely to be found among persons of more age and experience.” –The Boston Gazette on Spinning Bees, April 7th, 1766.1
As seen in the excerpt above, spinning bees became an important event for women in colonial America. The spinning bees not only helped support the anti-British cause but became an event to unite women.
Townshend Acts: Enacted in 1767 by Britain, the act imposed taxes on lead, tea, paper, paint, and glass
Members of the Daughters of Liberty:
Esther de Berndt
Did you know?
Abigail Adams was closely associated with the Daughters of Liberty but was not an official member.
Stamp Act Imposed
Daughters of Liberty Created
Boston Gazette prints article on spinning bees
Stamp Act repealed
Chapter of Daughters of Liberty branches off in Providence
Townshend Acts passed
Parliament repeals the Townshend Acts
Daughters of Liberty participate in the "Coffee" party
The Daughters of Liberty created new significance for women whose household chores had taken on new power and prestige. Social class lines became blurred with the efforts of the Daughters of Liberty. The wealthy elite and country farmers all participated in boycotting the British. The elite often refused to purchase fine cloth and linens imported by the British. The social equality created through the group spread throughout the colonies. For example, a young farm girl from Connecticut proudly stated:
That she had carded all day, then spun ten knots of wool in the evening, & felt Nationally into the bargain.'"2
The Daughters of Liberty united women throughout the colonies, and though women still did not have any rights, the movement would start the foundation for women's rights later on.
Hannah Griffitts and "The Female Patriots"
Women became so involved in the patriotic cause that they started to voice opinions against the men of the Sons of Liberty. They believed that the men's convictions were not as strong as their own. Written by Hannah Griffitts, The Female Patriots poem describes the feelings of the Daughters of Liberty.
The Female Patriots
…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 forebear,
(Then merchants import till your Stores are full,
May the buyers be few and your Traffic be dull.)
Stand firmly resolv’d & bid Grenville [Prime Minister of Great Britain] to see
That rather than Freedom, we'll part with our tea.
And well as we love the dear Draught when a dry,
As American Patriots, our Taste we deny…”3
The Daughters of Liberty took matters into their own hands in 1777 and organized their version of the Boston Tea Party. Finding a wealthy merchant storing excess coffee in his warehouse, the group took the coffee and drove away. Abigail Adams wrote to John Adams recounting the event:
A Number of Females, some say a hundred, some say more assembled with a cart and trucks, marched down to the Ware House, and demanded the keys, which he refused to deliver, upon which one of them seized him by his Neck and tossed him into the cart." -Abigail Adams4
Martha Washington was one of the most notable members of the Daughters of Liberty.
The Daughters of Liberty had their version of the Boston Tea Party called the "coffee party," where they took the coffee from a wealthy merchant.
Aiding in the boycotts allowed women to influence the political sphere behind the scenes.
The group brewed tea using mint, raspberries, and other plants, calling it Liberty Tea.
The group organized spinning bees where large groups of women competed to see who could spin the finest cloth.
The Daughters of Liberty impacted colonial life and created a foundation for other women in the American Revolution. While spinning bees became popular throughout the colonies as acts of rebellion, they solidified women's influence in political affairs without direct participation. While not having the right to vote, colonial women paved a road for the future of American women. For example, controlling the household purchasing power allowed colonial women to influence political action indirectly. Ultimately, the Daughters of Liberty strongly influenced Britain's profit from imported goods. Consequently, importing British goods fell by almost half. While the group influenced political and economic outcomes, they also created unique opportunities for colonial women.
The events and boycotts organized by the group created a socially equal environment where both wealthy elite and country farmers could participate in the patriotic cause. While participation in the boycotts did not give women complete access to the political realm, it later created a foundation for women's rights.
2. Mary Norton, Liberty's Daughters: The Revolutionary Experience of American Women, 1750.
3. Hannah Griffitts, The Female Patriots, 1768.
4. Abigail Adams, "Letter to John Adams, 1777," (n.d.).
The Daughters of Liberty were a patriotic group organized in 1765 after the imposed Stamp Act.
The Daughters of Liberty's role was to aid the Sons of Liberty in boycotting British goods. Due to the necessity of British goods, women began domestic production of both tea and cloth to feed and clothe the colonists.
The Daughters of Liberty did not have an official end date. The Sons of Liberty disbanded in 1783.
The Daughters of Liberty protested by organizing spinning bees where women would compete for hours, seeing who could create the finest cloth and linen. The group also made tea out of mint, raspberries, and other plants calling the drink Liberty Tea.
The Daughters of Liberty was founded by the Sons of Liberty in 1765. The Sons of Liberty believed that women could aid in boycotting.
When was the Daughters of Liberty founded?
What act created the need for the Daughters of Liberty?
The Stamp Act
What did the Daughters of Liberty call their homemade tea?
List the ways that Daughters of Liberty protested.
-Organized spinning bees/created cloth
What event did the Daughter of Liberty participate in regarding a wealthy merchant?
The Coffee Party
What significant events did the Daughters of Liberty organize?
What group was the Daughters of Liberty fashioned after?
Sons of Liberty
When was the Stamp Act repealed?
List the British items that the colonists boycotted
Who was one of the most notable members of the Daughters of Liberty?
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