Women’s role before American Revolution was restricted to home and motherhood. Their individuality was unwelcome in political and economic context. They were totally dependent on their husbands, fathers and brothers for physical survival and financial security. This reality deprived them of many opportunities like formal education, world travel and social positions. However during American Revolution, the need of their service and assistance was inevitable.
Though formal politics did not include women, their domestic knowledge and behavior became charged with political significance. Even though women were not direct participants on the battle field, they still created impact on the historic events of this period. Women on this time whether they were a loyalist, a neutral or patriot, they bravely fought and put their families at great risk. They could not remain silent or uninvolved, which reflects great courage.
A wife with a republican husband would help the patriotic cause through educating her children and the next generation according to the republican values who fought for independence. Their political resistance against the British Empire was apparently manifested in their decreasing support towards British trade and products. Women chose to continue a long tradition of weaving instead of purchasing and wearing clothing made from imported British materials.
Nonimportation and nonconsumption of British products became women’s major weapons in the arsenal of the American resistance movement against British taxation without representation (Faragher 2006, p. 159). Apparently women have been refusing to buy and consume products from British as part of their political statement. Buying American products became women’s patriotic gesture. Moreover, women were also asked to put their homes in service through quartering American soldiers and allowing legislators to hold the meetings in their homes.
Hundreds of women served as nurses, laundresses, cooks and companions to the male soldiers in the Continental Army (Zell 1996). Their actions on the home front saved them time and relieved the soldiers from extra planning and mobilizing. This allows the men to fully concentrate on defeating the British and acquiring sovereignty and independence. Moreover, the revolutionary war gave women the opportunity to demonstrate their capacity and to assume responsibilities that were before regarded to male alone.
When their husbands were in combat, they were taking charge of the farms and other source of livelihood of either trade or agriculture. Unconsciously women’s social roles and the structure of the society were redefined during American Revolution giving them more opportunities to explore their skills and potentials. The revolution for women paved the way to know themselves more thus inspired them to fight for equality in terms of social roles knowing that they can contribute something significant in the society.
Furthermore, the revolution stimulated hope for equality and freedom. Though they did not acquire full equality after revolution, the ideals of independence inspired not just women but slave for equality, freedom and independence. Reference: Faragher, John Mack, et al. Page 159. Out of Many: A History of the American People. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006. Zell, Fran. A Multicultural Portrait of the American Revolution. New York: Benchmark Books. 1996.
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