Role of Women in American Revolution

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By declaring independence, America demonstrated that it was possible to overthrow “old regimes”. This was the first time a colony had rebelled and successfully asserted its rights to self-government and nationhood. This inspired many European nations and colonies to revolt. The United States had created a new social contract in the form of its Constitution, in which they realized the ideas of Enlightenment. The natural rights of man, and the ideas of liberty, equality, and freedom of religion, were no longer unrealistic Utopian ideals. The framers of U.S Constitution rejected the Greek model of civic republicanism. They distinguished between the notion of “democracy” and their own proposed system of representative democracy. This made the bourgeoisie of Europe reconsider their own government and monarchic systems.

How did the American Revolution influence the French Revolution? The culmination of all these factors was seen in the French Revolution, where the revolutionaries formed their own slogan, “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity”. Europeans obtained information about the American Revolution from soldiers returning from America. French soldiers returned to France with ideas of individual liberty, popular sovereignty and the notion of republicanism. The French then revolted against their ineffectual monarchy, which they saw as tyrannical.

WOMEN
The experiences of women during the American Revolution were as varied and dynamic as the women themselves. While the individual experiences of women differed, depending on various factors such as level of education, socioeconomic status and physical location, the revolution affected women from all walks of life. Women remained separate from the institutions of political life at a time when Americans proclaimed liberty and political participation as their “birth right” but individual heroic acts broke the rules and astonished leaders. The public arena where political conflict and activity occurred was presumed to belong to men. Even when women had access to such public places or to political writings and pamphlets, their lower literacy rates ensured that few could read or fully understand them. Yet despite their general exclusions from daily political life, women were stirred by the same revolutionary zeal. Like men, some supported the crown while others proclaimed that they were “born for liberty”.

A more fundamental shift in perspective emerged as women’s experience in the revolutionary era helped shape a new consciousness of women’s political worth and capacities; this made their official exclusion increasingly problematic. Women played many roles such as camp followers, solider, messenger, manufacturer, head of household, writer etc. during the revolutionary period.

There was a stark coexistence of contradictory images of women. The 17th century emphasis on the darker, powerful side female nature had begun to yield to the 18th century idealized, sentimentalized notion of femininity. Yet the difficulty of defining citizenship and the place of women in a republic made the contradiction more and more apparent during the course of revolution.

As the revolution geared up, one of the most important weapons the colonists employed was the boycott. England attempted to exercise its influences over the colonies by imposing taxes on goods, so the colonists decided to rebel by refusing to import English commodities. The key to any boycott’s success, however was the women. Not only did women have to refuse to purchase English goods wares but they also had to increase their own production of good to meet colonial demand. Women organize themselves into such as the “Daughters of Liberty” which held all day sewing events in order to fill the need for cloth and other goods created by women’s participation in the boycott. For the first time, women found themselves and their actions playing a role in a larger struggle. Women often came together and signed...
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