American Revolution Patriots > Daughters of Liberty

Daughters of Liberty

Background

The Daughters of Liberty was a Patriot group established in 1765 that was very similar to the Sons of Liberty. The group was made up of women who all decided to boycott British goods following the establishment of the Townshend Acts by the British Parliament. At its height the group consisted of 92 women who all helped the Patriot cause by making goods such as clothing, and other home goods instead of buying them from the British as had been the status-quo under the policy of mercantilism.

Before American Revolutionary War most textiles were imported from Britain so therefore the advent of home-spun wool and cotton cloth was a great display of independence from colonial rule. The women would often hold contests called "spinning bees" in the town square to encourage others and bring attention to the patriot cause. It must be noted that the Patriot movement was a minority movement within the larger colonial structure. Many people during American Revolutionary War remained loyal to the British cause or remained a fence-sitter and decided to wait out the conflict to their best advantage.

These women were an integral part of the core Patriot movement and without their contributions both in the beginning and throughout the war the movement may have well fallen flat on its face. These women helped spin wool clothes for the fledgling Continental Military all throughout the war and helped launch the American textile industry. In addition to disrupting the colonial monopoly of the textile industry these women also helped oppose the Tea Act by creating alternatives to British imported tea.

They boiled basil leaves to create something known as Liberty Tea that allowed a sense of normalcy and allowed the colonists to avoid paying British taxes. The Sons of Liberty were quite fond of their female counterparts with Samuel Adams being quoted as saying:

"With the ladies on our side, we can make every Tory tremble."

While the Daughters of Liberty were very important during the events leading up to American Revolutionary War they were eclipsed by the Sons of Liberty during the war years and helped fund the cause by creating uniforms and bullets for the soldiers and militia that were facing the full brunt of the British military in the countryside.

For example, in the countryside, while Patriots supported the non-importation movements of 1765, and 1769, the Daughters of Liberty continued to support American resistance. They helped end the Stamp Act in 1766. In 1774, the patriot women helped influence a decision made by the Continental Congress to boycott all British goods. In order to support the men on the battlefield, the women made bullets and sewed uniforms. They raised funds for the army and made and circulated protest petitions. The Daughters of Liberty also used the influence of the Revolutionary War to their advantage. Prior to the Revolutionary War, women were submissive and were almost considered to be slaves to their husbands. Following the war, women in America felt a newfound sense of freedom, not only from British control of the United States but from males within the country. Women began to take part in political discussions within households, and even began to entertain the ideas of separating from their husbands. The war helped to inspire the Daughters of Liberty to also become Revolutionary Women.

Famous Women

Betsy Ross

See Betsy Ross

Betsy Ross Flag

Sarah Franklin Bache

See Sarah Franklin Bache

Martha Washington

See Martha Washington

Martha Washington was the wife of George Washington.

Esther de Berdt Reed

See Esther de Berdt Reed

a London-born woman who worked to raise money in Philadelphia, went door to door with over three dozen women in support of the Revolutionary War, more specifically to address General George Washington's complaints. She helped to organize a women's group, which used the money to sew linen shirts for the soldiers of the Continental Army. Esther was married to Joseph Reed, one of George Washington's aides-de-camp and later a delegate to the Continental Congress.

Deborah Sampson

See Deborah Sampson

disguised herself as a man and enlisted as a Continental Army soldier 1782-83, was wounded twice and was later awarded a soldier's pension. She is also known as the leader of the Daughters of Liberty.

Maude Epperson

See Maude Epperson

was also among the group of ladies that helped form the Daughters Of Liberty.

Molly Pitcher

See Molly Pitcher

generally believed to have been Mary Ludwig Hays McCauley, served on the battlefield during the Battle of Monmouth, helping Revolutionary soldiers who were collapsing from the heat by bringing them water from a nearby spring, today called the "Molly Pitcher Spring". Then, when her husband, William Hays, collapsed either from being wounded or from heat exhaustion, she took his place at a canon. When the battle ended, George Washington rewarded Molly Pitcher by making her a non-commissioned officer, and she became known as "Sergeant Molly". She was also part of a group of women led by Martha Washington, known as camp followers.

Patriots

Sons of Liberty

Daughters of Liberty

Continental Military

Continental Congresses

Sources

Primary Sources

Secondary Sources