Thursday, November 15, 2012

Featured Abstract: "Boycotts for Liberty: How the Non-Importation Movement Shifted Women's Place in Colonial Society"

Today's featured abstract is an oldie-but-goodie.  Hallie Wolff delivered this excellent oral presentation during our very first Symposium in 2010.

Boycotts for Liberty: How the Non-Importation Movement Shifted Women’s Place in Colonial Society
Hallie Wolff
Faculty Sponsor: John Moser, History & Political Science

In the years leading up to the outbreak of the American Revolution, many colonial leaders called for the boycott of British goods in an effort to force British Parliament to repeal colonial taxes. The success of the non-importation movement was contingent on the cooperation of colonial women. Studies have been conducted on the years leading up to the American Revolution and on women in colonial society, but little has been done on women’s participation in the colonial boycotts. Works by prominent historians such as T.H. Breen and Carol Berkin were studied as well as primary sources from the era to analyze the changes the non-importation movement brought to colonial women. Women were key participants in the non-importation movement. Their participation brought them something they never had access to before: a voice in politics. Through refusal to purchase certain goods, colonial women were able to voice political opinions without stepping outside their duties as a wife, mother, and daughter. The small political freedoms women gained through this era did not lead to any major changes in the political rights of women, though. At the conclusion of the American Revolution and non-importation movement, women’s lives resumed as they were before, showing that the political role women undertook during the various boycotts was not continued afterwards.

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