Boycotting British goods was one of the first ways women actively participated in the war effort. Drinking tea and having tea parties was a status symbol (2). People did not like the taxes that were imposed on British goods, such as tea. In Edenton, North Carolina, the women followed the example of their husbands by boycotting British goods. On October 25, 1774, a group of fifty-one women met at the home of Elizabeth King, to formally sign a petition against the act of drinking British tea and wearing British cloth (3). This gathering and petition signing by these women came to be known as the Edenton Tea Party. The women were thinking of their families and benefits to the society as a whole.
Another way the women took a part in the war effort was fundraising. Benjamin Franklin’s daughter Sarah Franklin Bache and Esther Reed organized a fundraising campaign. This fundraising effort was to benefit the Continental soldiers, who were lacking the basic necessities, such as food and clothes. These two women formed the Ladies Association in order to raise money for the soldiers. Esther Reed called this fundraising a women’s patriotic duty, since women could not actively fight, no amount of money was too small (1). This fundraising effort took place in Philadelphia, but spread across the colonies to New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia. Esther Reed and Sarah Franklin Bache wanted to give the money directly to the soldiers; two dollars each. Two dollars was a big amount of money to have back then. George Washington had other ideas, he suggested giving the soldiers shirts instead, citing some of the soldiers’ fondness for drinking. So, the women bought their linen materials to make the shirts themselves to save money. Women and girls that participated in the act of sewing the shirts wrote their name in the shirt they sewed, making it personal. More than two thousand soldiers received a shirt from the Ladies Association fundraising effort (2).
Click here to explore the ways women used the pen as political weapon.