Englishmen in the colonies or overseas often ridiculed women and represented them as weak-minded, unintelligent, or frivolous. But when the Patriots needed help from the masses to execute a full-scale war against the British army, it became clear that women’s intelligence and help was necessary.
Explain 4 specific examples from the slides and videos that show how women broke stereotypes about women, and how women embraced the revolution’s ideas and gave their much-needed support to the cause.
(3 minutes )
(4 minutes )
(3 minutes )
(The War: 1775 – 1783)
The Revolution would not have
been won without the women.
The Revolution would not have
without the women
The Revolution would not have begun without the women
Example: A British cartoon venting frustration at
the successful American women, who prevented
colonial $$ from getting to England:
•a scene in Edenton, North Carolina.
•Fifty-one women signed a declaration of nonimportation,
swearing not to drink tea or purchase British imports.
•Boycotts of British paint, paper, lead, glass, cloth, and tea:
a mark of patriotism
•Violators??? Women as “the enforcers” at town markets
What were women’s roles
during the Revolution?
➢Maintained Boycott of British goods
➢Home grown tea; “homespun” clothes
➢Assisted with the cannon, weapons
➢Maintained farms, businesses
➢Nurse at the Front
➢Cooked at the Front
➢Writing: plays, poems,
letter news reporting
➢Provided supplies – bullets, bandages, etc
Wealthy women who had been privately
educated like Abigail Adams were politicized
and were political actors. She was John
Adams’ chief advisor – even he acknowledged
that. Adams and others advocated not for
women’s right to vote, but for a more just
system that allowed women more rights and
independence. As she said to her husband
John in a 1776 letter, using the rhetoric of the
Do not put such unlimited power into
the hands of the husbands.
Remember—all men would be tyrants
if they could.
“If a particular care is not paid to the
Ladies we are determined to foment a
rebellion, and will not hold ourselves
bound by any Laws in which we have
no voice, or representation.”
-Abigail to John Adams, 1776
Women at the front, romanticized in an 1876 painting: Carrying cannon water, taking over at the
cannon. It took three people to staff a cannon – one at the back, one at the front, and one carrying
pails of water to rinse the cannon between shots. It needed to be cleared of excess gun powder or
the cannon would explode. Wives of soldiers at the front sometimes were water carriers, thus the
nickname “Molly Pitcher.
Earning a living
after the war:
to the war efforts.
Women in all roles: Possibly
100 or more disguised
themselves as male soldiers
and earned pay.
To one extent or another,
The women understood the
stakes and goals of the
The female soldier:
a/k/a Robert Shurtleff
Click below for more info
“I became an actor in that important drama with an
inflexible resolution to persevere through the
last Scene; when we might be permitted to
acknowledge and enjoy what we had so nobly
declared we would possess, or lose with our lives—
Freedom and Independence.’’
1804 – Help for a Pension from a famous man:
. . . Mrs. Deborah Gannet of Sharon . . . . I have been induced to inquire [about]
her situation and character since she quitted the male habit and soldiers uniform
for the more decent apparel of her own sex, & since she has been married and
become a mother.
. . . that every person with whom I have conversed about her, and it is not a few, Primary
speak of her as a woman of handsome talents, good morals, a dutiful Wife and an
affectionate parent. She is now much out of health; she has several children;
her husband is a good sort of a man . . . but they are really poor. She told me
she had no doubt that her ill health is in consequence of her being exposed when
she did a Soldiers duty, and while in the Army, she was wounded.
. . .when I heard her spoken of as a soldier, I formed the idea of a tall, masculine
female, who had a small share of understanding, without education, & one of the
meanest of her sex.
— When I saw and discoursed with [her] I was agreeably surprised to find a small,
effeminate, and converseable woman, whose education entitled her to a better
situation in life. I have no doubt your humanity will prompt you to . . . get her
some relief. I think her case much more deserving than hundreds to whom
Congress have been generous.
Your humble Servant, Paul Revere
RESULT: $4/month; doubled in 1818.
The new story of the Polish General
And one of the heroes of the
“He is called the ‘father of the American
cavalry,’ a Polish-born Revolutionary War hero
who fought for American independence under
George Washington and whose legend
inspired the dedication of parades, schools,
roads and bridges.”
General Casimir Pulaski was either an
In every human Breast,
God has implanted a
Which we call Love of
It is impatient of
And pants for Deliverance.
Click for two brief clips:
Slave Phillis Wheatley
Freed in 1773
Some view our sable race with scornful eyes—
“Their color is a diabolic dye.”
Remember, Christians, Negroes black as Cain
May be refined, and join the angelic train.
•First African American to publish a book
•An accomplished African American woman of letters
•First African American woman to earn a living from her writing
•First woman writer encouraged and financed by a group of women
(Mrs. Wheatley, daughter Mary Wheatley, and Selina Hastings.)
•Appeared before General Washington in March, 1776
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