Women Paid Lip Service for Their Contributions to Revolutionary War Effort

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Abigail Adam’s childhood home, Weymouth MA. Photo by Weymouth North Cemetery

On March 12, 1776, a public notice ran in the Baltimore local newspapers acknowledging the large contribution women made to the Revolutionary cause. The notice proclaimed:

“The necessity of taking all imaginable care of those who may happen to be wounded in the country’s cause, urges us to address our humane ladies, to lend us their kind assistance in furnishing us with linen rags and old sheeting, for bandages.”

Posted bills appeared all over town that evening that read:

“Our country’s cause for liberty includes us all.”

As well it should have.

The boycotts the colonists enacted in protest against British taxation strangely seemed to involve products used mostly by women, such as tea and cloth.

The women drank the bulk of the tea— the guys preferred rum. Boycotting cloth didn’t impact the lives of the men very much — after all, they wouldn’t be the ones spending countless hours spinning clothes for the entire family, would they?

Women all over the colonies were aiding the cause with their nursing skills, but that was hardly their only contribution. They ran the farms and businesses while their husbands were off fighting the Brits, and even participated in battle themselves when the need arose.

The legendary Molly Pitcher fought by her spouse’s side at Valley Forge, and helped fire the cannon when he collapsed. All over the colonies women were sacrificing their safety, security, comfort, and sometimes their lives, to aid in the birth of their new country.

Abigail Adams gave voice to the concerns of many American women when she wrote to her husband John during the Continental Congress later in 1776. She told him that she hoped to see a declaration of independence, and added:

“…by the way, in the new code of laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors.”

If the phrase “you owe us” isn’t included, it’s definitely implied.

No matter. The newly formed United States of America had no intention of putting women on an equal footing with men. It would be, and still is, a long, hard battle.

Women began improving their lot by way of changing local laws, and slowly working their way up to the national level. It wasn’t until 1920 that the 19th amendment was ratified, which states, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote are not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”

Keeping all this in mind, you couldn’t blame the “humane ladies” if they suspected they were the inspiration behind the saying “No good deed goes unpunished.”

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is a political junkie and history buff randomly alternating between bouts of crankiness and amusement while bearing witness to the Apocalypse. Come along!

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