llustrated by Emily McCully
A real incident during the American Revolution showing women creating their own version of The Boston Tea Party.
“There really was a “Boston Coffee Party” during the American Revolution in which women punished a selfish merchant who was hoarding his coffee bean stock during the wartime shortage until the price was high enough for profit. Rappaport tells a story based on this historic detail from the point of view of two young sisters of that time, in words that are easy to read but convey the feelings of the time and the action of the plot. McCully’s line drawings with watercolor and charcoal create a sense of time and place while they convey the action through movement and gesture.” –School Library Journal
Women and Revolutionary War
Women were not allowed to fight in the Revolutionary army but they participated in the war effort in many ways. They used their social roles in the community and their economic power in the household to engage in boycotts and riots. For example to protest various taxes imposed by the British government, colonial women not only refused to purchase boycotted goods like imported cloth and tea from Britain, but spun their own cloth (referred to as “homespun”). They also sewed shirts and blankets with the homespun for the Continental Army.
The Boston Tea Party, orchestrated by colonial men, is the most well known boycott but the participation of women in boycotts was essential because as head of the households, they were often responsible for purchasing the goods. They were the ones who actually bought locally produced goods or chose to make goods at home to replace those previously purchased from the British.
Penelope Barker, Image courtesy of the North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Libraries.
Like the Boston Coffee Party, another important boycott led by women took place in North Carolina in 1774. Fifty-one women (reportedly led by Penelope Barker) in the community of Edenton singed a petition proclaiming their intent not to purchase British goods.
Below is an excerpt from their petition printed in the Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser on January 16, 1775.
Academic article on boycotting and rioting during the Revolutionary War:
Brief piece on Sons and Daughters of Liberty:
Women and Revolutionary War: