AP History Notes

The world's best AP history notes
Posts Tagged ‘women’

Meeting the Quincy Women, 12 Nov.

In January 1759, John Adams paid a call to Col. Josiah Quincy’s house in Braintree (shown here).

There the young lawyer found his host’s daughter Hannah (1736–1826) and her first cousin Esther Quincy (1738–1810).

Referring to Hannah Quincy as “O.” in his diary, Adams compared the two young ladies:

O. thinks more than most of her Sex. She is always thinking or Reading. She sitts and looks steadily, one way, very often, several minutes together in thought. E. looks pert, sprightly, gay, but thinks and reads much less than O. . . .

O. makes Observations on Actions, Characters, Events, in Popes Homer, Milton, Popes Poems, any Plays, Romances &c. that she reads and asks Questions about them in Company. What do you think of Helen? What do you think of Hector &c. What Character do you like best? Did you wish the Plot had not been discovered in Venice preserved? These are Questions that prove a thinking Mind. E. asks none such.

But really they were both flummoxing him: “I talk to Hannah and Easther about the folly of Love, about despizing it, about being above it, pretend to be insensible of tender Passions, which makes them laugh.”

Hannah Quincy married Dr. Bela Lincoln of Hingham the next year. Esther Quincy married Adams’s friend and fellow lawyer Jonathan Sewall in 1764. That same year, Adams married Abigail Smith, whose mother was a Quincy.

On Thursday, 12 November, Nancy Carlisle will speak at Old North Church in Boston on the topic “From the Revolution to the Close of the Nineteenth Century, the Remarkable Women of the Quincy Family.”

In a family where six successive generations of Quincy men held prominent public roles in the civic life of Boston and New England, the women in the family have long been overshadowed. But in reality it is because of them that we know as much as we do about their husbands, fathers, and brothers. When we shine a light on the lives of the Quincy wives and daughters we learn about the role that intelligent, articulate, and engaged women played in the political and cultural life of the region.

Carlisle is the Senior Curator of Collections for Historic New England. For the past three years she has focused on the Quincy House and its inhabitants as part of a major reinstallation.

This talk is scheduled to start at 6:30 P.M. It is free, but Old North asks people to reserve seats through this site. There will be a reception afterwards.

Finding Religion at College? Documenting the History of Women in Higher Education

Monica L. Mercado


I’m flying home today from the Digital Library Federation Forum in Vancouver, where I presented an update on one of the major projects I’ve been working on since beginning my postdoctoral fellowship at Bryn Mawr College last summer. That project, the open access portal College Women: Documenting the History of Women in Higher Education collegewomen.org, launched in May, the result of a year’s work between Bryn Mawr and six partner institutions funded by a planning grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (you can read the original grant narrative, here).

The site brings together — for the first time online — hundreds of digitized letters, diaries, scrapbooks and photographs of students who attended the northeast U.S. women’s colleges once (and often still) known as the Seven Sisters: Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Mount Holyoke, Smith, Vassar, Wellesley, and Radcliffe (now the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University). Together, we have developed a pilot for subject-specific federated digital archives projects; our goal, most broadly, is to increase the visibility of women’s education histories, central to our missions as archives and teaching collections in historically women’s institutions. Digital collections development gave us the opportunity to connect our seven related but physically separate collections; our hope is to expand the portal significantly in the coming years.

Tradition? The Barnard Greek Games (1931),
Barnard College Archives, via collegewomen.org.

The idea for this project began with the concern that our seven institutions’ extensive collections of student materials were a largely underused set of documentation on the history of American women. Because our libraries and archives have similar histories, we knew we could aggregate similar materials — for comparison and contrast. As a group, we agreed on themes that would shape what digital items we would contribute to the beta site. The themes were topical subjects that could better connect our materials (such as ‘traditions’ and ‘academics’) or keywords we saw as important to the history of discourse around women’s education, or topics we hope to document further. Themes can also be used in the site search so that our audiences can locate related results easily. One of those themes? Religion.

Religion isn’t a buzzword at the Digital Libraries Federation, which has been particularly attentive over the last few days to the intersection of race and gender with our digital work. It’s still not much of a buzzword in digital history more generally (although I’m still hoping to learn more about the conversations that happened as part of the recent Catholic Research Resources Alliance event, Catholic Archives in the Digital Age: A Conference for Teachers and Archivists, and I continue to follow other digital religion conversations on RiAH with great interest). And, to be honest, religion isn’t a major part of my work in the Bryn Mawr College Archives. But having researched and written about Catholic women’s higher education for much of the last few years, and having taught courses on the history of women’s higher education at the University of Chicago and now Bryn Mawr, I wonder how a project like College Women can expand to take account of the experiences of both students at religious institutions, whose archives may be even less well organized than those of the elite northeastern colleges, as well as religious students in nondenominational or secular colleges.

So for the moment, inspired by the College Women site, how might we study religion at the Seven Sisters?

“Religion” search results, collegewomen.org beta site.

When I searched the College Women portal for items catalogued with the “religion” theme, it didn’t surprise me that Mount Holyoke and Vassar populated the list (on the latter, see Vassar’s 150th anniversary website, created in 2011). When it comes to religion at the Seven Sisters, Mount Holyoke is the obvious place to start — and Amanda Porterfield’s terrific Mary Lyon and the Mount Holyoke Missionaries (1997) remains one of my favorite books in nineteenth-century U.S. women’s religious history. Lyon, who founded Mount Holyoke Female Seminary in Western Massachusetts during the 1830s, fused women’s schooling with evangelical Protestantism; in the context of the religious fervor and reforming zeal of the antebellum era, Lyon turned her educational vision into an institutional reality. To explain her goals, Lyon shared a language with other religiously motivated reform movements, while emphasizing the education of women. “In order to exercise much moral power over others,” she wrote, “you must have a well-cultivated mind.” According to early school circulars housed in Mount Holyoke’s Archives & Special Collections, Lyon expected that her seminary would “exert an unequivocal influence in rendering female education a handmaid to the gospel, and an efficient auxiliary in the great work of renovating the world.”

The Bryn Mawr College “chapel,” in a photograph
displayed at the Sesqui-centennial Exposition of
1926, Bryn Mawr College Special Collections.

Protestant sensibilities fueled the design of the other “Seven Sisters,” particularly Vassar and Wellesley in the 1860s and 1870s, as Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz writes in Alma Mater: Design and Experience in the Women’s Colleges (1985). This is a fact that routinely surprises some of my students at Bryn Mawr, unaccustomed to markers of religious life such as chapel on campus. Bryn Mawr was founded by Quakers, but unlike its neighbors, Haverford and Swarthmore Colleges, the traces of that Quaker heritage are harder to spot.

As Eric Pumroy argues in Founded by Friends (2007), “Bryn Mawr did indeed grow and prosper as an academic institution, as its founders wished, but not as a religious one, which they had also wished. The tension between academics and religion was settled in favor of the former by [the College's second president] M. Carey Thomas, a dynamic leader who saw that Bryn Mawr’s great mission was to prove that women were capable of the same intellectual achievements as men. If accomplishing this mission for women meant sacrificing a Quaker-based education, it was a sacrifice she was willing to make.” The Bryn Mawr chapel, for example, was not a grand, free-standing structure like Wellesley’s beautiful Houghton Chapel; it was a large room in the central academic building, Taylor Hall. Its grandest occasion? Not regular prayer or worship, but the 1899 formal presentation of Thomas’s portrait, painted by John Singer Sargent. The chapel no longer exists; the two-story space has been divided up into two floors of offices and storage space (that I accidentally stumbled into during my first summer on campus).

Students walking with Abbey Chapel and Mary Lyon Hall
in the background, ca. 1940s. Mount Holyoke College
Archives and Special Collections, via collegewomen.org.

Today, religious conversations at Bryn Mawr take place out of the College’s diversity office, a host of student-led religious organizations, and a student-led Interfaith Council. In this context, one student in my women’s education history course last semester was both intrigued and perplexed by a visit she made to Mount Holyoke College, and its Abbey Chapel building. How do we know if religion exists at college, she asked, if we can’t see it in the built environment of our campuses? “Those who needed [the chapel] had it,” she wrote for our public course blog, “and those who didn’t want it could wander about unconcerned. These days, the chapel is open 8 am to 10 pm…7 days a week, and you can wander in and out as you like. That’s what Bryn Mawr lacks — the quiet presence of religion in the background, there for those who need it.” 

I’m intrigued by these and other conversations about the place of religion on college campuses, as someone who has studied, taught, and written about American religion and American women’s higher education separately for quite some time. The digital project, collegewomen.org, and conversations with my students who participate in religious life on the 21st-century campus, show me new ways of continuing these lines of inquiry, in the College Archives and in our new virtual portal. With so much of the scholarship on religion and education as an object of study often focused on the K-12 experience, how might women’s history find religion at college?

When “Clamours run very high” in Philadelphia

As of 8 Sept 1765, the stamp agent for Pennsylvania, John Hughes, had heard demands for his resignation, but he brushed them off. Then on 12 September, he reported to the man who had secured that appointment for him:

Our Clamours run very high, and I am told my House shall be pull’d down and the Stamps burnt. To which I give no other Answer than that I will defend my House at the Risque of my Life. I must say, that all the sensible Quakers behave prudently.

The irony is that Hughes and the man he was writing to, Benjamin Franklin, were leaders of the political alliance that had broken down the Quaker dominance of the Pennsylvania legislature.

On 15 September, Philadelphia received news of the change in government in London: George Grenville, who had sponsored the Stamp Act, was no longer prime minister. That news caused celebrations in the city, which soon turned into actions against the men seen as supporting or carrying out the unpopular law.

Hughes wrote out periodic reports to Franklin about what followed:

Sept. 16. in the Evening. Common Report threat[ens] my House this Night, as there are Bonfires and Rejoicings for the Change of Ministry. The sober and sensible Part of the People are doing every thing towards being in Readiness to suppress a Mob if there should be any Intention of Rising. I for my Part am well-arm’d with Fire-Arms, and am determin’d to stand a Siege. If I live till tomorrow morning I shall give you a farther Account; but as it is now about 8 aClock, I am on my Guard, and only write this between whiles, as every Noise or Bustle of the People calls me off.

9 aClock. Several Friends that patroll between my House and the Coffee House, come in just now, and say, the Collection of Rabble begins to decrease visibly in the Streets, and the Appearance of Danger seems a good deal less than it did.

12 aClock. There are now several Hundreds of our Friends about Street, ready to suppress any Mob, if it should attempt to rise, and the Rabble are dispersing.

Sept. 17. 5 in the morning. We are all yet in the Land of the Living, and our Property safe. Thank God.

In those same days, crowds visited Franklin’s house—though they knew he was three thousand miles away in London. It was up to his wife Deborah (shown above) and their friends to dissuade the crowd from causing any damage.

The stamped paper for the Middle Colonies arrived in the Delaware River on 5 October. With it came Hughes’s official commission as stamp agent. A large crowd gathered outside the State House and chose a committee that included James Allen (1742-1778), Robert Morris, and Charles Thomson to call on Hughes and find out what he planned to do with the paper now.

Hughes was sick in bed, but he received the committee. He told them that he wouldn’t enforce the Stamp Act unless the law was generally accepted in the colonies—which was not looking likely. Hughes refused to formally resign, however. The crowd visited again two days later, but he stuck to his position, and his bed. The people went away, figuring that was the best they could do until November, when the law was to take effect.

TOMORROW: To the south.

Revolutionary Talks at the A.A.S. this Fall

The American Antiquarian Society in Worcester has a bunch of interesting public lectures in the next few weeks.

Thursday, 22 October, 7:00 P.M.
Linda K. Kerber, “Looking Back on Women of the Republic

Each year the Annual Robert C. Baron Lecture brings a distinguished A.A.S. member who has written a seminal work of history to Antiquarian Hall to reflect on the book’s impact on scholarship and society in the years since its first appearance. This year, Linda Kerber will discuss her 1980 book, a landmark study of American political thought and women’s roles in the new nation.

Friday, 23 October, 5:30 P.M.
Richard H. Brown, “Dispatches from the Front Lines: Maps and Views of the American Revolutionary Era”

In this illustrated lecture, Brown will examine rare and beautiful full-color maps and images created on the scenes of battles from the French and Indian War through the American Revolution. This lecture is based upon the recently published book Revolution: Mapping the Road to American Independence, 1755-1788 by him and Paul E. Cohen.

After Brown spoke at the Boston Public Library last month, Charles Bahne wrote me to say it was “a really great lecture, one of the best I’ve heard in a long time.”

Thursday, 5 November, 7:00 P.M.
Robert J. Allison, “The Birth of the Liberty Tree

What were the long-term consequences of Boston’s resistance to the Stamp Act? A broad mobilization of Bostonians demolished property and forced Crown officials to resign; the British government rescinded the law; and both sides felt they had averted a bigger crisis. But had they? We will commemorate the 250th anniversary of the Stamp Act with this lecture that examines the importance of the Stamp Act Crisis, both for those who lived through it and for future generations.

Friday, 20 November, 7:00 P.M.
Wendy Bellion, “Representing Iconoclasm: Paint, Print, Performance”

This talk will explore nineteenth-century representations of colonial iconoclasm, such as the 1776 destruction of a statue of King George III in New York, and the re-performance of that action in civic pageants and parades, which often included ephemeral reproductions of the destroyed statue.

Bellion’s lecture is also the keynote address for the CHAViC fall conference.

These talks are open to the public free of charge. All take place in Antiquarian Hall at 185 Salisbury Street. Parking is available on the streets nearby.

My Dog Ate My Soul

Laura Arnold Leibman

Recently I adopted two pugs “for my children.”  Although I used to work with animals before going into academia, I had never been a huge dog person.  (My childhood dog was a bit of a nightmare–a Pit bull mix best known for terrorizing my friends and biting of the heads of my dolls.)  The pugs, however, have taught me there is much to be said on behalf of dogs.  For one, dogs are much more loyal than cats.  While Dr. Know scorns dog owners as crypto-Republicans who “love the top-down, hierarchical thrill of underlings who know their place and think their boss is a god,” there is something endearing about having at least two beings in my house that listen to what I have to say with rapt attention (“The Feline Exemption“).  Moreover when I was home sick last week, I realized not only was the dog happier because it was near me, I was actually happier it was nearby, too.  With the dog nestled beside me on the couch, I felt that weird euphoria of first love, albeit potentially enhanced by cold medicine.  The pugs even populate my dreams.  One one level this makes sense:  after all, the dogs like to sleep on my pillows and–being pugs–they snore loudly.  Why wouldn’t they enter my subconscious? Yet, I also had the nagging feeling for the first time I viscerally understood a kabbalistic edict that had long puzzled me, namely the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s prohibition against socializing with non-kosher animals.  My dogs had eaten my soul, or more accurately become affixed to it.  Let me explain what I mean.

“Your child will remember the discussions
of water buffalo in Shulchan Aruch (YD 28:4).
Some say buffaloes are the “meri” of II Samuel 6:13
and I Kings 1:9,19 or the “t’oh” Deuteronomy 14:5
or even the “re’em” of Numbers 23:22, 24:8,
Deuteronomy 33:17 and Job 39:9-12″

Anyone who has spent any length of time with Lubavitch families will have noticed the dearth of toys representing non-kosher animals.  Tiny versions of Noah’s ark are populated only by kosher beasts, teddy bears are taboo, and even baby clothes only feature kosher friends.  This is because, as I noted in my previous post on religion and toys, in the early 1980s the Lubavitcher Rebbe requested that his followers not cavort with non-kosher animals or even have representations of non-kosher animals in their homes (Slifkin 36).  Although the Rebbe’s supporters follow this edict to varying degrees, at least one women I know who grew up Lubavitch had very visceral memories of the childhood day shortly after the Rebbe’s decree when “all the teddy bears went away.”  Other people spoke of how they stopped having family pets.  As someone who used to work in animal health care, I always found this edict to be puzzling and sad.  Pets seem to lift our spirits–indeed, some studies have shown that petting dogs releases endorphins and other “feel good” chemicals in our brains (Masters).  Dogs and cats are often used as therapy animals because they can decrease depression and increase human sociability. Moreover, even if one believed “impure” (non-kosher) animals were harmful, why forbid representation of non-kosher animals? At best, this seems to the secular mind (or someone who teaches the Republic each year) like a strangely Platonic distrust of mimesis.  What spiritual harm could animals and their images bring?

“A dog, possibly an Alsatian,
attacking a Jewish woman wearing an armband.”
Ghetto Fighters House Archives

Yet, the Lubavitch are not the only Jews to mistrust both animals and representations thereof.  The lack of pets is relatively common among Ultra Orthodox Jews.  This is not merely because many have enough children to meet their emotional needs, nor is it solely because the Nazis used dogs to hunt Jews (left).  Rather, since antiquity a variety of spiritual reasons have been brought to bear against both pets and images of animals.  On the representation front, the Second Commandment prohibits graven images, particularly “any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth” or that can become idols. Many Jews have felt this prohibition includes the representation of animals.  Sephardic sage Rabbi Chaim Yosef David Azulai (1724-1806), for example, ruled that “God-fearing” people should not stare at pictures of animals. Yet he and other Sephardic rabbis such as Rabbi Odaviah Yosef felt staring at actual animals –God’s creation–was a legitimate and spiritually uplifting experience (Slifkin, Man and Beast, 34-35).  Indeed, there is a beautiful religious book Perek Shirah, which argues everything in creation–non-kosher animals included–teach a “lesson in philosophy or ethics” and sing the praises of God (Slifkin, “Perek Shirah”1).  Even versions of Perek Shirah published by Orthodox presses often have color photos of all kinds of animals, since these images are designed to inspire wonder at God’s creation (above right).  Yet, at least for some Rabbis–including many very important ones–admiring animals as God’s creation does not excuse keeping them as pets.  Moses Maimonides–the Rambam–argued that “possessing any type of dog, even a harmless dog, is forbidden, unless it is secured by a chain.”  The Talmud itself takes an even harsher view, and explicitly states that “one who raises dogs is cursed and can cause the Divine presence to depart” (Slifkin, Man and Beast, 215-16).  While most authorities cite the possible physical damage a “dangerous dog” might pose, this passage from the Talmud suggests the problem with pets is as much spiritual as it is spiritual, since raising dogs causes a distance between man and God.

For the Lubavitcher Rebbe, however, the problem was not just the spiritual gulf between man and God non-kosher pets created, but that non-kosher animals could taint one’s soul.  As the Lubavitcher Rebbe explained, what one sees with one’s eyes leaves a lasting imprint on one’s soul, and “pictures of impure animals harm the mind and soul” (Schneerson)Moreover, the Rebbe cites the Jewish Code of Law (Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 198:48) that, “Upon leaving immersion in a mikveh women should be careful … that the first thing they encounter should not be an impure thing [such as a dog or donkey].”  A woman who does she these animals should reimmerse herself in order to protect her potential embryo (Schneerson).

Although the prohibition against seeing non-kosher animals and their representation was a stringency, for the Rebbe this stringency was tied to the messianic era.  As the Rebbe explained,

The importance of the above is even more emphasized in our times, the era immediately preceding Mashiach’s [Messiah's] coming. It is our responsibility to prepare for the Messianic era, to “taste” of [As stated, “Those who taste of it merit life” – see Magen Avraham, Orach Chayim ch. 250, subsection 1; Aruch Admur HaZakein, Orach Chayim ch. 250, para. 8.] those things which will then be present [See Likkutei Sichos, vol. 15, p. 282]. And one of those things will be the fulfillment of the promise “I will remove the spirit of impurity from the land.” [Zechariah 13:2] A fitting preparation for the Messianic era is to ensure, where possible, that only pictures depicting pure and sacred things be used (Schneerson).

By refraining from viewing representations of non-kosher animals, individuals could help take part in the preparation of the world for the messiah, a figure some followers of the Rebbe identified as the Rebbe himself.  Importantly, the Rebbe also identified children’s souls as particularly impressionable and susceptible to the “spirit of impurity” embedded in such representations.  Since Lubavitcher women were most likely to be the ones securing toys and children’s clothing, this edict on “Visual Education” presented an important way that women (and children!) could immerse themselves in quotidian activities that took on a cosmic significance of preparing and purifying the physical world. 

As someone who was raised by biologists and had never been a follower of the Rebbe, I had never seen the logic in this stringency. Yet, despite all my skepticism, I am not utterly unsure that the Rebbe was incorrect that (non-kosher) animals touch our souls.  According to the Zohar, when we sleep our soul leaves our body.  (In fact this is why many orthodox Jews wash our hands upon rising: because our bodies taken on a small amount of death impurity during sleep.)  Yet if my soul travels when I sleep, if I dream of my dogs, does that mean that their souls travel with mine on that voyage?  Perhaps.  Possibly it means something more telling about myself.  As the Zohar goes on to explain,  “When the body falls asleep… the nefesh [spiritual essence], rises upward and encounters the unclean essences.  If the spirit is pure, if the person had not transgressed the commandments, the unclean essences cannot cleave to the nefesh” (Gersh 42-43).  In this reading, if my dogs cleave to me in my dreams, it is the fault of my own misdeeds.

Whether or not I accept the idea that my dogs are “impure,” they are a good reminder to me not to judge things I do not understand, including Rabbincal decrees based on kabbalah.  Yet despite the insights the dog’s closeness has brought me, for now it is enough for me that my life seems better for the way the dogs have adhered to my essence.  I find that when I am with them, I too am more dog-like: I am happier, more upbeat, and forgive people more easily.  Hence, I have decided to side with the Rabbis who rule more leniently and follow books like Perek Shira that suggest dogs, too, sing the song of the universe.  Besides now my office is cozier.

Perek Shira 5: [כְּלָבִים] אוֹמְרִים . בֹּאוּ נִשְׁתַּחֲוֶה וְנִכְרָעָה נִבְרְכָה לִפְנֵי יי עֹשֵׂנוּ: (תהילים פרק צה ו)


The Expiring Maryland Gazette

Yesterday I showed an image of the 5 Sept 1765 Maryland Gazette. In the lower right corner, publisher Jonas Green put an image of a skull and crossbones with the label, “Hereabouts will be the place to affix the STAMP.”

Green continued to run that image in the corner of his paper, with different captions, for another few weeks as a warning against the impending Stamp Act. Finally, on 10 October, he issued The Maryland Gazette, Expiring, blaming “The Fatal Stamp” for his decision to close the newspaper.

Green revived the Gazette in early 1766 once it was clear that the Stamp Act was a dead letter. He died the following year, and his Holland-born widow Anne Catherine Green continued the business until the eve of the war.

This University of Maryland website says the Greens had previously used that skull-and-bones woodcut to draw attention to prominent obituaries. The webpage continues, “When Archaeology in Annapolis excavated the remains of their print shop, the piece of type used to create the image on the front page was recovered.”

“A person more suitable to your birth & rank”

Yesterday I quoted a letter that Gov. Thomas Hutchinson received from William Fitzwilliam on 6 Apr 1771, asking for his youngest daughter Peggy’s hand in marriage.

As I said, Hutchinson knew that that young man was the son of a nobleman back in Britain. For many colonial politicians, the prospect of allying his family with the imperial aristocracy would have been very enticing.

Hutchinson wasn’t that sort of person. He loved his daughter dearly, and he also loved his late wife, who had died giving birth to her. He no doubt knew that the marriage of two young people who had never even spoken was unlikely to lead to happiness. A native Bostonian, Hutchinson collected offices at home but showed no ambition to join the noble class in Britain.

The governor was also a firm believer in the social order, and that gave him a way to let Peggy’s suitor down easy. He wrote back the same day:

I am not insensible that such an Alliance as you have proposed would be doing the greatest honour to me & my Family.

I am at the same time very sensible that it cannot be approved of by the Noble Family to which you belong—In my station, from Respect to My Lord FitzWilliam I should think it my duty to do all in my power to discourage one of his Sons from so unequal a match with any person in the Province and I should most certainly be highly criminal if I should countenance & encourage a match with my own daughter

I hope Sir you will think this a sufficient reason for my not acceding to your proposal & sincerely wish you happy in a person more suitable to your birth & rank & who may be approved of by your Honorable Parent

I have the honor to be
Sr. Yr. most obedt.
humble Sert.
Thomas Hutchinson

This action turned out to benefit Gov. Hutchinson in a small way. On 8 Nov 1774, after moving to London, he visited the British politician George Onslow. At the end of that conversation, which seems to have been full of mutual flattery, came this exchange, as Hutchinson recorded it in his diary:

He thanked me for conducting an affair of his nephew, Ld FitzWilliam’s son, in America. I had forgot he was his nephew. He hoped to cultivate an acquaintance, &c.

Peggy Hutchinson joined her father in London. She died three years later, never having married.

TOMORROW: Who was William Fitzwilliam?

“I have had the honor of seeing miss Hutchinson”

Among the creepier items in the Massachusetts Archives is this letter to Gov. Thomas Hutchinson from 1771:


The various methods there are of writing on the following subject, makes me rather at a loss which to take, as I am a stranger to you,—but as the nature of it requires plain dealing, I shall take the liberty to consider you as a friend, and write to you as such:—

You will prehaps Sir think it rather strange, and be much surprised at the receipt of this letter; particularly as I am going to ask a great favor;—no less Sir than the honor of an alliance to your family;—

I have had the honor of seeing miss Hutchinson, but never in my life spoke to her—I need not tell you I admire her, when I say I wish to call her mine;—on seeing her the first time, I determin’d to endeavour to cultivate her acquaintance, but have not been so happy as to succeed;—therefore I should wish as the most honorable method of proceeding, to get acquainted with her through the means of her Father; and I should be happy in obtaining your permission Sir to visit her:—

I would more on the occasion, but yet not near so much as what I could say to you in person;—therefore Sir if you’ll favor me with a line, directed to me at Mr Perkins near the old Brick meeting House, I will do myself the honor of waiting on you, any time you’ll apoint.

You will find me act, from beginning to end, as a man of honor, and I am very certain that you, on your part, will do the same:

I have the honor to remain with the utmost esteem and respect
Your very obedient and
most hble Sert.
Wm. Fitzwilliam

April ye. 6th 1771

“Miss Hutchinson” was the governor’s favorite daughter, Peggy, born in 1754 and thus only in her late teens. What were Hutchinson’s thoughts as he read this young man’s expression of interest in marrying her when he’d never even spoken to her?

Complicating matters was Fitzwilliam’s social standing—he was the son of a British peer, and thus an enticing prospect for a colonial politician with social ambitions.

TOMORROW: The governor’s reply.

“Thread, Wool and Silk” at Old South

Old South Meeting House is hosting a series of events this fall on costume and textile-making, and what they say about the economy, social class, politics, and other matters.

Friday, 9 October, 12:15-1:00 P.M.
Lady in the Blue Dress…and You!

Painted in an exquisite blue silk dress by her husband John Singleton Copley, the most famous artist in the American colonies, Susanna Copley was from Boston’s elite, a member of one of the town’s leading merchant families. But in 1773 she found herself surrounded by turmoil when her Loyalist family were named as tea consignees to sell British East India Company tea—the very tea that the Patriots were determined to refuse. Listen as she confides in a friend about her husband’s struggles and her fears for her family’s safety in a world where the established social and political order is coming under siege. Join in the conversation as historic reenactors Elizabeth Sulock and Elizabeth Mees share two well-clad women’s perspectives on a turbulent time.

Admission is free for Old South members, $6 for others. Ticket information here.

Friday, 23 October, 12:15-1:00 P.M.
Sheep to Shawl: Carding and Spinning at the Meeting House with Historic New England

Discover how New Englanders made clothes before the process became mechanized. Learn about the history and technology of spinning and dying wool and weaving cloth from Historic New England educator Carolin Collins. Then try your hand at picking, carding, and spinning wool from Historic New England’s flock of sheep in order to get a hands-on understanding of this vital historical craft!

Admission is free for Old South members, $6 for others. Ticket information here.

Friday, 12 November, 12:30-1:30 P.M.
Thread, Wool, and Silk: Weaving It All Together
Erica Lindamood, Education Director at Old South, will lead an informal discussion weaving together the programs on fashion, social class, and clothing production. Tea and cookies will be served, and participants can bring their own lunch if they wish. Admission is $5 for members, plus one guest.

Alderman Wooldridge and an Unfortunate Young Woman

Last month I introduced the figure of Thomas Wooldridge, an alderman of London who started the war as spokesman for the London merchants doing business with America and ended going bankrupt for the second time before dying in distant Boston.

While he was still a respectable magistrate in London, Wooldridge showed up in this story in the May 1777 London Magazine alongside a list of prisoners the American army took at Trenton:

Saturday 3 [May].

Yesterday two inhabitants of the parish of St. Mary Abchurch, made application to Mr. Alderman Wooldridge, at Guildhall for a warrant against the keeper of an infamous house, agreeable to the particular directions of the act of parliament; a warrant was granted, and Mr. Payne the constable immediately went to execute it; he presently came with the prisoner, a woman so big with child that she was on the eve of delivery; with her a pretty young woman, who, it afterwards turned out, was a nymph of the house.

Being closely interrogated by the alderman about her situation, she burst into a flood of tears, and a scene ensued that was extremely affecting: she said that she had lived in many reputable families, which she named, till being debauched by an attorney’s clerk, by whom she was with child, she was compelled to leave service and go to her father; but her mother-in-law [i.e., stepmother] turning her out of doors, she had no other resource to fly to than seeking that dissolute way of life which she now followed: every person present felt for the unfortunate girl, though nobody so much as herself, for her story was accompanied with the most evident emotions of contrition.

The alderman, in very severe terms, reprehended the keeper of the brothel, for to such characters, he justly observed, girls in general owed their ruin; but as the prisoner’s situation made her a very unfit object for a jail, she was permitted to return home, on a promise to discontinue the practice for which she was apprehended.

The young woman was sent by a constable to her father, who is a man of reputation; and we trust he will exercise tenderness, and not severity to a girl who appears to be more unfortunate than abandoned.

No word about how to deal with her stepmother.

See the In the Words of Women for an analysis of the print shown above.

Early American History Schedules at the M.H.S.

The Massachusetts Historical Society has announced its schedule of seminars for the upcoming academic year. These come in four series: on early America, environmental history, urban history, and the history of women and gender.

I’ve picked out those that relate to colonial and federal America. Except for the one noted otherwise, every session starts at 5:15 P.M. at the society’s building on Boylston Street in Boston.

Tuesday, 6 October
Jane Kamensky, Harvard University, Copley’s Cato or, The Art of Slavery in the Age of British Liberty”
Comment: David L. Waldstreicher, Graduate Center, C.U.N.Y.

Thursday, 8 October
Jen Manion, Connecticut College, “Capitalism, Carceral Culture, and the Domestication of Working Women in the Early American City”
Comment: Cornelia Dayton, University of Connecticut
This session takes place at the Schlesinger Library in Cambridge starting at 5:30 P.M.

Tuesday, 3 November
Owen Stanwood, Boston College, Peter Faneuil’s World: The Huguenot International and New England, 1682-1742”
Comment: Wim Klooster, Clark University

Tuesday, 10 November
Elizabeth Hyde, Kean University, “André Michaux and the Many Politics of Trees in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World”
Comment: Joseph F. Cullon, W.P.I./M.I.T.

Tuesday, 1 December
Rachel Walker, University of Maryland, “Faces, Beauty, and Brains: Physiognomy and Female Education in Post-Revolutionary America”
Comment: Robert A. Gross, University of Connecticut

Tuesday, 19 Jan 2016
Sara Georgini, Adams Papers, “The Providence of John and Abigail Adams
Comment: Chris Beneke, Bentley University

Tuesday, 2 February
Wendy Roberts, University at Albany, S.U.N.Y., “Sound Believers: Rhyme and Right Belief”
Comment: Stephen A. Marini, Wellesley College

Tuesday, 1 March
Abigail Chandler, University of Massachusetts–Lowell, “‘Unawed by the Laws of Their Country’: The Role of English Law in North Carolina’s Regulator Rebellion”
Comment: Hon. Hiller Zobel, Massachusetts Superior Court

Tuesday, 5 April
Jared Hardesty, Western Washington University, “Constructing Castle William: An Intimate History of Labor and Empire in Provincial America”
Comment: Eliga H. Gould, University of New Hampshire

Tuesday, 3 May
Joanne Jahnke-Wegner, University of Minnesota, “‘They bid me speak what I thought he would give’: The Commodification of Captive Peoples during King Philip’s War”
Comment: Kate Grandjean, Wellesley College

In these seminars, the author of the paper doesn’t read it aloud. Instead, subscribers are invited to download that paper in advance. Discussions begin with comments by the author and commenter, and then any other attendees who have questions can join in. A subscription to three of the four series can be purchased for $25 through this site. (That doesn’t include the 8 October session, in the women’s history series.)

Wilson on Stepfamilies in Boston, 2 Sept.

On Wednesday, 2 September, Lisa Wilson will speak at the New England Historic Genealogical Society on the topic of her latest book, A History of Stepfamilies in Early America.

Here’s the purpose of this book:

Stepfamilies are not a modern phenomenon, but despite this reality, the history of stepfamilies in America has yet to be fully explored. In the first book-length work on the topic, Lisa Wilson examines the stereotypes and actualities of colonial stepfamilies and reveals them to be important factors in early United States domestic history.

Remarriage was a necessity in this era, when war and disease took a heavy toll, all too often leading to domestic stress, and cultural views of stepfamilies during this time placed great strain on stepmothers and stepfathers. Wilson shares the stories of real stepfamilies in early New England, investigating the relationship between prejudice and lived experience, and, in the end, offers a new way of looking at family units throughout history and the cultural stereotypes that still affect stepfamilies today.

Lisa Wilson is the Charles J. MacCurdy Professor of American History at Connecticut College. As well as being a member of the N.E.H.G.S., she’s a stalwart of the Massachusetts Historical Society’s Boston Area Early American History Seminar series [here’s the schedule for that series in the coming year]. Her previous books have been about widows in Pennsylvania and New England men’s domestic and family lives.

This talk is scheduled to begin at 6:00 P.M. It will be followed by a book-signing. register for this free event, use this page.

Anti-Stamp Act Protests in Rhode Island

Public protests against the Stamp Act spread outside of Boston in August 1765 so quickly that I’ve fallen behind the sestercentennial anniversaries of those events.

Since the Newport Historical Society is commemorating that port town’s protests with a reenactment today, I’m focusing on the events in Rhode Island.

On 24 August, ten days after the first protest at Boston’s Liberty Tree, A Providence Gazette Extraordinary appeared. William Goddard (1740-1817) had stopped publishing this newspaper in May. This special issue was “Printed by S. and W. Goddard,” the “S.” being William’s mother Sarah (c. 1701-1770).

Sarah Goddard resumed the weekly publication of the paper in 1766 as “Sarah Goddard, and Company.” From January 1767 to 1769, the colophon clarified that she printed “(In the Absence of William Goddard),” the son having gone on to other cities. Finally she sold the business to employee John Carter, who maintained the paper for decades to follow. Her daughter, Mary Katherine Goddard, established a print shop in Baltimore.

That issue of the Providence Gazette was extraordinary indeed, being almost entirely devoted to one political cause:

  • Above the masthead it proclaimed, “Vox Populi, Vox Dei” (“The Voice of the People is the Voice of God”).
  • The essays were all about the problems with the Stamp Act, including a paragraph from Isaac Barré’s speech in Parliament.
  • The news was all about anti-Stamp Act protests in Boston and Connecticut, and similar disturbances in Britain.
  • The paper printed five resolutions from the Providence town meeting modeled on the resolutions that the Virginia House of Burgesses had reportedly passed that spring.
  • The last page described a new paper mill that the Goddards were helping to build outside Providence—a business potentially at odds with the Stamp Act.

In his history of the Revolution, the Rev. William Gordon wrote that “Effigies were also exhibited; and in the evening cut down and burnt by the populace” in Providence on this date, but I haven’t found any confirmation of that.

Instead, the next big development in Rhode Island appears to have happened down in Newport on 27 August. Here’s the description of that day published in the 2 September Newport Mercury:

Last Tuesday Morning a Gallows was erected in Queen-Street, just below the Court-House, whereon the Effigies of three Gentlemen were exhibited, one of whom was a Distributor of Stamps, which was placed in the Center. The other two were suspected of countenancing and abetting the Stamp Act.

Various Labels were affixed to their Breasts, Arms, &c. denoting the Cause of these indignant Representations, and the Persons who were the Subjects of Derision.—They hung from Eleven o’Clock till about Four, when some Combustibles being placed under the Gallows, a Fire was made, and the Effigies consumed, amidst the Acclamations of the People.—The whole was conducted with Moderation, and no Violence was offered to the Persons or Property of any Man.

A report published in London later that year offered some more physical details: “about nine o’clock in the morning, the people of Newport, in Rhode Island, brought forth the effigies of three persons, in a cart, with halters about their necks, to a gallows, twenty feet high.”

Notably, the Mercury didn’t identify the three “Persons who were the Subjects of Derision,” even by initials. But everyone in town knew who they were:

  • Rhode Island’s stamp-tax collector, Augustus Johnston (c. 1729-1790).
  • Martin Howard, Jr. (1725–1781), a lawyer who had written a pamphlet titled A Letter from a Gentleman at Halifax to His Friend in Rhode Island, supporting the Stamp Act—a very rare position for an American to take.
  • Dr. Thomas Moffatt (c. 1702–1787), another supporter of stronger royal government.

Moffatt later identified three merchants—Samuel Vernon (1711-1792), William Ellery (1727-1820), and Robert Crook—as guarding the spectacle from local officials, just as the Loyall Nine did in Boston. The doctor also said that to build a crowd they “sent into the streets strong Drink in plenty with Cheshire cheese and other provocatives to intemperance and riot.” Yet that day ended with no other destruction than the burning of the effigies.

TOMORROW: But it wasn’t over yet.

Phillis Wheatley and Susanna Wooldridge

Yesterday I proposed that Phillis Wheatley wrote her “Ode to Neptune” about Susanna Wooldridge (sometimes spelled “Woolridge”). Here’s my argument.

On 29 Aug 1771, the New-York Journal ran this piece of news from London:

Saturday last was married, Thomas Wooldridge, Esq; Provost Marshal General, and Receiver General of his Majesty’s province of East-Florida, also Fort Adjutant and Barrack-master of Fort St. Marks, to Miss Kelly, daughter of William Kelly, Esq; of John street, Crutched Friers.

“Crutched Friars” was a newly fashionable neighborhood in the City of London near Tower Hill, named after a monastery closed by Henry VIII and burned in the Great Fire. Kelly later moved into “The Crescent” nearby, shown above in its modern form.

That wedding notice was meaningful for New Yorkers because the bride’s father did a lot of business in the city, and in America. William Kelly was a partner of Abraham Lott, treasurer of New York colony. He invested in the Great Dismal Swamp Company. In the summer of 1773, the East India Company invited Kelly along with select other merchants to discuss shipping tea to America. His business associates and executors included Brook Watson of shark fame.

Kelly’s August 1774 will, written when he was “in Bath for the recovery of a Numbness that has attacked me in my feet,” gives the name of the daughter who married Thomas Wooldridge as Susanna. It also indicates that before the marriage Kelly had promised Wooldridge “£3,000 in lands in the Provinces of New York and New Jersey” while arranging £2,000 for Susanna “free from the debts and control of her husband.”

Thomas Wooldridge has already made an appearance on Boston 1775. My description of him back then was based on his correspondence with the Earl of Dartmouth, mostly about patronage positions in Florida mentioned in the wedding notice above. In 1772 Wooldridge was back in America, traveling around and currying favor by sending Dartmouth various dispatches, an effort that promised to pay off when the earl became Secretary of State.

Among the people Wooldridge met in America, as I described before, was Phillis Wheatley. On 24 Nov 1772 he sent Dartmouth a letter telling how she’d answered his challenge to compose a poem as he watched. He enclosed the result, “To the Earl of Dartmouth,” and Wheatley’s personal letter. Those documents are dated 10 October—the same date as her “Ode to Neptune.” Later that month, he stood sponsor for a baby during a baptism at King’s Chapel and then he went back to New York to write his report to Dartmouth.

I don’t have evidence that Thomas Wooldridge had brought his bride to America and that she was planning to sail back home to London toward the end of 1772. But I think that was the case. She’s certainly a “Mrs. W——” who could be addressed as “Susannah.” Perhaps Susanna Wooldridge came to Boston with her husband and met Wheatley. Perhaps Thomas asked the enslaved poet for a special composition which he could bring back to his wife in New York. But this seems like a more logical story for that poem than that Wheatley wrote it for Susannah Wheatley (who never sailed abroad) or Patience Wright (who never went by “Susannah”).

Under my scenario, “Ode to Neptune” isn’t Phillis Wheatley’s plea for smooth sailing for her beloved mistress or for an artistic colleague, but a well-crafted commission in classical style created for a well-connected patron. Wheatley was adept at that aspect of an eighteenth-century author’s life, just as she was adept with words.

TOMORROW: Thomas and Susanna Wooldridge in London during the war.

The Mystery of “Mrs. W——”

Yesterday I quoted Phillis Wheatley’s “Ode to Neptune,” published in London in 1773 with the subtitle “On Mrs. W——’s Voyage to England” and dateline “Boston, October 10, 1772.”

For readers seeking to identify “Mrs. W——,” the poem offers some internal clues:

  • Her last initial was W, of course, and she was almost certainly married and alive in October 1772.
  • Later the poem addresses her as “my Susannah.”
  • She was about to make a voyage across the ocean to the Thames River in England.

Given the first two clues, most people’s first guess is that Phillis wrote this poem to her mistress, Susannah Wheatley. Except that other evidence strongly suggests that Susannah Wheatley never went to England.

Phillis Wheatley almost certainly addressed her mistress in another poem titled “A Farewel to America. To Mrs. S. W.” But that was when Phillis was about to sail to London and Susannah was staying behind in Boston.

The next guess is based on notes in a copy of Phillis Wheatley’s 1773 book of poetry owned by the American Antiquarian Society. Beside the “Farewel” poem someone penned “Mrs. Susannah Wright,” and then a different someone penciled, “eminent for her Wax Works etc.”

Scholars agree that the “Mrs. S.W.” mentioned in “A Farewel” is Susannah Wheatley. So some have argued that the notes in that A.A.S. copy were actually meant for another poem—namely, “Ode to Neptune.” A woman named “Susannah Wright” who traveled to England in late 1772 would fit all the internal clues. However, no one has identified such a woman or linked her to the Wheatleys.

The “eminent for her Wax Works” line has prompted other interpreters to assert that Wheatley addressed her “Ode to Neptune” to Patience Wright (shown above), who indeed became famous on both sides of the Atlantic for her wax likenesses of people. Wright was in Boston in the early 1770s, and, like Wheatley, she created a tribute to the Rev. George Whitefield.

Patrick Moseley wrote a whole article in New Essays on Phillis Wheatley (2011) about the relationship of Patience Wright and Phillis Wheatley as two women seeking sustenance and respect from their arts in the pre-Revolutionary British Empire. But there remain some inconvenient facts:

  • Patience Wright sailed for England in February 1772, months before Phillis Wheatley wrote her poem about “Mrs. W——” embarking.
  • Wheatley’s poem clearly addresses its subject as “Susannah.”
  • There’s no evidence Wheatley and Wright had any relationship aside from those notes in the A.A.S. copy, which have no source, get Wright’s name wrong, and are attached to a different poem written for someone else.

So here’s my contribution to Wheatley scholarship: The “Mrs. W——” mentioned in “Ode to Neptune” was Susanna Wool(d)ridge, daughter of London merchant William Kelly.


Phillis Wheatley Day at Old South, 18 Aug.

I’m momentarily stepping away from the 1765 Stamp Act ruckus to note that on Tuesday, 18 August, the Old South Meeting-House celebrates its Phillis Wheatley Day.

That’s the date on which Phillis Wheatley officially joined the Old South congregation in 1771. At the time she was still enslaved in the Wheatley family though she was already becoming known locally for her memorial verse.

The historic site will offer hands-on activities related to Wheatley’s work with museum admission. Meanwhile, her writing desk can be seen at the Massachusetts Historical Society, and a signed copy of her 1773 collection of poems is on display at the Boston Public Library. [ADDENDUM: The library exhibit is closed from 3:30 P.M. on 18 August through 20 August.]

Wheatley usually wrote in rhymed pentameter couplets, but here’s a Horatian ode from that collection:

On Mrs. W——’s Voyage to England.

WHILE raging tempests shake the shore,
While Æolus’ thunders round us roar,
And sweep impetuous o’er the plain,
Be still, O tyrant of the main;
Nor let thy brow contracted frowns betray,
While my Susannah skims the watery way.

The Power propitious hears the lay,
The blue-eyed daughters of the sea
With sweeter cadence glide along,
And Thames responsive joins the song.
Pleased with their note, Sol sheds benign his ray,
And double radiance decks the face of day.

To court thee to Britannia’s arms,
Serene the clime and mild the sky,
Her region boasts unnumbered charms;
Thy welcome smiles in ev’ry eye.
Thy promise, Neptune, keep; record my prayer,
Nor give my wishes to the empty air.

Boston, October 10, 1772.

That poem raises an obvious question: Who was “Mrs. W——”?

TOMORROW: The usual answers.

What to Wear to a Riot in 1765

Ten years can be a significant time in the changing fashions of clothes. Ten years ago, there was still hope that Croc shoes would be a passing fad. Teen-aged boys had not yet received the mass text message telling them to stop having haircuts for several months. And the clothing industry hadn’t determined that what American men really wanted to wear was gingham, leaving no other type of dress shirt on store hangers.

Fifteen years ago, volunteers working with Minute Man National Historical Park came up with scrupulously researched clothing guidelines for the reenactment of the Battle of Lexington and Concord. Those guidelines continue to be updated with additional information. But they don’t necessarily apply to 1765, ten years earlier.

For the upcoming sestercentennial reenactments of the Stamp Act protests in Boston and Newport, Hallie Larkin and Stephanie Z. Smith of At the Sign of the Golden Scissors prepared guidelines for dressing in New England in 1765. That document can downloaded from this page at the Newport Historical Society.

It’s a big download: a 31-page P.D.F. file with lots of illustrations. There are many upper-class portraits, of course, but also images and other documentation about the clothing of middling folks and workers.

From eyewitness accounts of the Stamp Act protests we know the crowd was mixed. In Boston the daytime crowd included both men and women, as well as “two or three hundred little boys with a Flagg marching in Procession.”

After nightfall, Lt. Gov. Thomas Hutchinson wrote, the effigies were paraded around town by “Forty or fifty tradesmen, decently dressed,” followed by “some thousands.” Gov. Francis Bernard later declared those leaders were actually gentlemen disguised in middling dress; friends of the royal government never let go of the idea that political opponents in the elite were manipulating popular opinion rather than that the populace might have political initiatives of its own.

(Image above from a reenactment of 1770 recorded on the website of Nick Johnson.)

Remembering Mary Katherine Goddard the Right Way

Earlier this month the Baltimore Sun reported on the installation of a historical plaque in a downtown Rite-Aid pharmacy.

That drugstore is on the probable site of the Goddard print shop in 1777. On 18 January of that year, Mary Katherine Goddard issued a broadside reprinting the Declaration of Independence with the names of all the Continental Congress delegates who had signed the document so far.

The Sun article has such headlines as “How a Baltimore woman defied the Redcoats” and “See how Mary Katherine Goddard helped win the Revolutionary War.”

It quotes Andrew Carroll, author of Here Is Where and promoter of this plaque, saying that her printing “was a total act of defiance. She was saying, ‘I’m stepping forward and I’m putting my life at risk in the expectation that other people will do the same. There’s no turning back now.’”

Printing the Declaration, the article says, “put her life at risk.” An official at the Maryland Historical Society states of Goddard, “If the war had ended differently, the signers would have been convicted and hanged for treason, and she probably would have been hanged as well.”

For the record we should note that:

  • There were no redcoats in Baltimore to defy. The British army was no closer than Princeton, New Jersey, that month, and it never attacked or occupied Baltimore.
  • The British authorities had just held New Jersey signer Richard Stockton in custody and did not try or hang him.
  • There’s no example of the Crown executing an American printer for supporting independence or printing the Declaration. In fact, many British printers reprinted that text because it was significant news.  
  • While making the Declaration look nice for the Congress no doubt suggested support for its cause, Goddard’s status as a woman would have given her more insulation from political accusations—not that she was ever in British custody to be so accused.

Goddard’s work as both printer and postmaster was undoubtedly significant and deserves to be remembered. But the rhetoric around the installation of this plaque seems unduly sensational.

The Fight in Boston Harbor: A Vexillological Footnote

During last week’s investigation of the conflicting accounts of the June 1776 fight in Boston harbor that ended with the capture of troop transport ships from Scotland, Boston 1775 reader Peter Ansoff sent a message with some additional information. So I’m happily running it as a guest blog entry.

The schooners involved in the capture of the Scottish transports were not actually privateers, but the armed vessels commissioned by Gen. George Washington to prey on British commerce. One of them, the Hancock, was commanded by Samuel Tucker, who later served with distinction in the Continental Navy. Commodore Tucker wrote a short sketch of the affair in 1818, which was published in John H. Sheppard’s biography of Tucker in 1868:

The first cruise I made was performed in January 1776, and I had to purchase the small arms to encounter the enemy with money from my own pocket, or go without them; and the consort mentioned above [his wife] made the banner I fought under: the field of which was white, and the union was green, made therein in the figure of a pine tree, made of cloth of her own purchasing and at her own expense. These colors I wore in honor of the country—which has so nobly rewarded me for my past services—and the love of their maker, until I fell in with Colonel Archibald Campbell…

This is one of only two first-hand descriptions of “Pine Tree” flags carried by Washington’s cruisers, the other being the well-known flag of Capt. Sion Martindale’s brig Washington, captured by the British in December 1775.

Tucker’s description is different from the modern conception of the Pine Tree flag, in that the pine tree is in a union (or canton, a small rectangle in the upper hoist corner), rather than in the middle of a plain field. Tucker’s description is a bit puzzling. The white field and the green union are clear enough, but what color was the pine tree in the union? Or does his phrase “made therein” simply suggest a small green pine tree in the upper hoist corner of the flag, without a defined union? There is also no mention of the “Appeal to Heaven” motto that appeared on the Washington’s flag and is standard on modern Pine Tree flag replicas.

Tucker then recounts the capture of the troop ships George and the Annabella:

About ten P.M. a severe conflict ensued, which held about two hours and twenty minutes. I conquered them with great carnage on their side, it being in the night, and my small barque, about seventy tons burden, being very low in the water, I received no damage in loss of men, but lost a complete set of new sails by the passing of their balls; then the white field and the pine tree union were riddled to atoms. I was then immediately supplied with a new suit of sails and a new suit of colors, made of canvas and bunting of my own prize goods.

Unfortunately, this is no clearer with respect to what the “pine tree union” looked like.

Nor was Tucker’s phrase “I conquered them” clear that his Hancock was not the only ship in the battle with the George and Annabella, nor (by all other accounts) the biggest, most effective American ship during the final confrontation. But Capt. Seth Harding’s 1776 report had left Tucker and his colleagues out, so maybe Tucker figured this was only fair.

The image above is merely symbolic of the pine tree flag since we don’t even know what the pine looked like, much less the rest of the flag.

Thanks again, Peter!

Hogeland on Hamilton on the Ten-Dollar Note

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew recently announced a plan to add a notable American woman to the next redesign of the ten-dollar bill. It’s been more than a century since Martha Washington appeared on a U.S. silver certificate.

The Los Angeles Times reported:

Alexander Hamilton will still appear on the note even after the yet-to-be-selected woman makes her debut. The Treasury either will design two bills or Hamilton and the woman will share the same bill.

Somehow I think Hamilton would like the space-sharing solution. (Ladies…) Nonetheless, Lew’s plan has been decried as “replacing” Hamilton.

This announcement followed a campaign to put an American woman on the twenty-dollar bill in place of Andrew Jackson, a very important President with repressive policies and an antipathy to a national bank. But the ten-dollar bill happens to be the next up for redesign.

Fans of Hamilton (now appearing on Broadway) came to his defense, making the obvious argument that the Treasury Department owes loyalty to its founder. Some, such as Steven Rattner in the New York Times, added that Hamilton’s political views are better in tune with today’s values than Jackson (who hasn’t been the lead character in a Broadway musical in, what, two years).

William Hogeland, author of The Whiskey Rebellion, agrees on the irony of reducing Hamilton’s place on Treasury notes, but he thinks that Rattner’s comparisons are fallacious. The whole essay is a delight, but here are a couple of choice bits:

Jackson was a slaveowner, and he defended the institution. While there is ample evidence to suggest that Hamilton at times owned slaves, Hamilton opposed the institution, so Rattner repeats a familiar fallacy: “Hamilton was an abolitionist.” Hamilton’s biographer Ron Chernow says that about Hamilton too; most of the biographers do, and why not? it’s a lovely thought. But it’s not true.

Readers interested in that subject will want to start with this balanced, scrupulous paper by the historian Michelle DuRross. Hamilton the “staunch abolitionist” (Chernow) is such a longstanding biographical fantasy, with such a tangled history, that a certain kind of graduate student would have a ball unraveling it. Readers may be forgiven for believing that young Hamilton had the horrors of the slave markets of the Caribbean so painfully seared on his brain that in adulthood he was inspired to oppose slavery: most of the major and not-so-major Hamilton biographies — Lodge’s, Miller’s, Mitchell’s, Randall’s, McDonald’s, Brookhiser’s and Chernow’s — tell that story. Literally none can cite a primary source. Some cite one another: Randall cites Mitchell, Miller cites Lodge, e.g. The story is such common knowledge that I don’t think Chernow even gives it a citation. Its origin is unclear. But it’s made up.

DuRoss reminds us of the difference between promoting manumission (encouraging slave owners to free their human property) and campaigning for abolition (using the law to end slavery).

And as for Hamilton being more appropriate for a printed bill:

Hamilton’s entire career, before and after becoming Secretary, was based on demolishing paper finance, the depreciating populist currencies of his day that built debt relief into money. With the entire lending-and-investing class that he represented and promoted, Hamilton liked specie, metal. Big notes like those written on the Bank of the United States were not, to Hamilton, a “national currency,” as Rattner tortures history to assert. The federal government did not print paper currencies as long as (and well after) Hamilton had anything to say about it.

5 Questions for Leah Payne: Gender, Pentecostalism & the X-Files Re-boot

Arlene Sanchez-Walsh

I’m taking time today to interview a scholar of gender, Pentecostalism and performance theory is a great pleasure!  Where were all these neat theoretical ideas when I was writing my dissertation?  This is Leah’s first book, for readers contemplating adding readings, or better yet, assigning a new text that covers gender, Pentecostalism, and performance…you would do well to consider dropping a few bucks on Leah’s book & for those of us who perpetually lament the lack of women scholars on our reading lists, in our libraries and in our mutual networks—a chance to put your activism into action.

5 Questions for Leah Payne on her new book Gender and Pentecostal Revivalism: Making a Female Ministry in the Early Twentieth Century, life in the academy, & the X-Files re-boot. 

Leah Payne received her Ph.D. in History and Critical Theories of Religion from Vanderbilt University in 2013. She is a Louisville Institute postdoctoral fellow in American Religious History and Women’s Studies at George Fox University in Portland, Oregon. Her research interests include American religious innovation, gender, race, and class construction, performance theory, and religion & popular culture. In her spare time, she blogs about coffee, television, and religious studies at leahpayne.blogspot.com

1) Gender issue within Pentecostalism are usually relegated to sub-specialties once the “real” history of great men is played out, like an addendum to the real story, how do you think your book and your future work challenges that paradigm?

That’s a great question! I think some of this relegation happens because scholars of Pentecostalism do not think gender theory has potential to give insight to the movement in ways that are just as powerful as the “great men” approach. Hopefully, with time and more gender-conscious scholarship, students of Pentecostalism will see that investigating gender construction shows us a lot about how and why the movement changed over time. Also, as I wrote Gender and Pentecostal Revivalism, I found that questions about gender led me to other helpful questions. If the creation of womanliness and manliness shaped the movement, how about sexuality, race, ethnicity, class, etc.? I hope that my book demonstrates that applying gender theory to the history of Pentecostalism shows us aspects of the movement that intellectual histories of “great men” might otherwise miss.

2) I have found some pretty striking similarities between Pentecostal pioneers like Maria Atkinson, Sister Aimee, and Kathryn Kuhlman to name a few. They all had problems with their marriages, and yet they were venerated as saintly women by their followers, what do you make of this gendered conception of marriage and divorce.

True! Some prominent female Pentecostal pioneers were divorced. One reason for this was that early Pentecostals (and North American Protestants in general) thought of the categories of “wife” and “minister” as discrete. Thus, women often felt that they had to choose between fulfilling their role as a woman in marriage and fulfilling the (presumably male) role as a minister in the pulpit. Many biographies of divorced Pentecostal women include a story of calling, resistance to that calling based on gender concerns, and then an eventual acceptance of the call. Divorce (if mentioned at all) was usually a little-discussed side effect of choosing the call of God. Woodworth-Etter and McPherson are two examples, but many (including Kuhlman, Paula White, Juanita Bynum, etc.) have followed suit.

We can draw several conclusions from this (e.g. it is difficult for powerful women also to enjoy stable marriages, celebrity revivalism often leads to sex scandals, etc.), but what I find most interesting is that the women were able to continue their ministries. This is a key question in Gender and Pentecostal Revivalism: how, in a movement that emerged from the American holiness tradition (and in a gender-anxious era), did certain women manage to maintain authority as ministers, even as one of the most powerful public signs of their womanliness disintegrated? The fact that Pentecostal revivalists managed to both condemn divorce and leave room for divorced women and men to minister shows us that the movement is incredibly adaptable. It also shows us that the ability to do revivalism well trumps just about anything – even divorce!

3.) Academia in confessional schools poses its challenges, but the more I am in academia, the more I think it’s really about people in power protecting their vested interests, and wrapping it in different kinds of urgency. The urgency to protect certain views about faith, to protect certain political positions, to protect corporate relationships with universities. What have you found most affirming/difficult about working in a confessional school?

I am only one year into my position, but I can say that it is certainly an adventure teaching at a confessional school! One thing that is always surprising is how much variety (confessional, political, personal, etc.) there is to be found in confessional schools. You can’t assume that you know what a faculty member, administrator, student, etc. thinks about faith or politics. Another thing that I’ve found fascinating is how confessional commitments influence the inner workings of an institution. My university is of the Friends persuasion, and that shapes how the university is governed, its values, decision-making, etc. That’s a big change from my historically-Methodist-currently-unaffiliated alma mater!

4) It would have been in times past, where a Pentecostal woman such as yourself would have been viewed as having too much of the wrong kind of education for going to a place like Vanderbilt, did you experience resistance to that decision? Do you think it is different for younger Pentecostal women scholars?

I do think it is different now as opposed to 20 or 30 years ago. As a kid, I remember hearing pastors repeat the old joke that theological education killed a person’s faith: “they should call it ‘cemetery,’ not ‘seminary!’” A lot of that has changed. There are some circles in which I experience a good amount of suspicion and questions about why I went to Vanderbilt, why as a woman I would want to do what I do, etc., but for the most part, I’ve been heartily encouraged and affirmed. I’ve also found that there are many younger Pentecostal women as well as some truly courageous senior scholars who are doing good work. And, I think should mention that I’ve had my fair share of well-meaning academicians ask why a Pentecostal would want to be a scholar since Pentecostals are anti-intellectual tongues-speakers. So, there are old stereotypes being deconstructed on both sides! At their best, Pentecostals are recognizing that they have something to contribute to as well as many things to learn from the academic study of religion. I am happy to be doing what I am doing now!

5) Finally, I can’t let you go without asking your opinion and getting some background from you on our mutual X-Files obsessions. I remember watching one of the first episodes in Chicago as I was nervously waiting to present at my first AAR meeting in 1994.It was the one with alien spore that was taking over the Arctic science station—I was hooked!!! What hooked you? What is your favorite episode? And what can the show runners do in the 6-episode re-boot that will keep the magic going? 

This is my favorite question!!! As you know, I am a huge fan of X-Files. There is so much to love about the show, but since our topic today is gender studies, I enjoy the dynamics between Scully and Mulder. The idea that the woman is the cool-headed skeptic and the man is the hotheaded true believer is a lot of fun. Most of my favorite episodes are from the first two seasons. “Eve,” an episode about eugenics experiments gone awry is super creepy! Also, “Gender Bender,” about a religious commune with gender bending inhabitants combines many of my favorite topics: religion, gender, and science fiction. What’s not to love?

Thanks for the great questions Arlene!

You can pick up Leah’s book through the publisher or Amazon. Gender & Pentecostal Revivalism

Quakers to Know: Priscilla Hunt Cadwalader and George Fox White

Carol Faulkner

In my post for this month and next, I will highlight the careers of some nineteenth- and twentieth-century Quakers. My hope is to inspire readers to include more Quakers on their American and religious history syllabi and expand the historical perspective beyond a few famous Quakers like John Woolman, Elias Hicks, and Lucretia Mott (though Mott should be everywhere!).

In some ways, this post might be considered a follow-up to Laura Leibman’s on the impact of scholarly articles. The two Quakers for today, Priscilla Hunt Cadwalader and George Fox White, are both courtesy of the scholarship of Tom Hamm, Professor of History at Earlham College, and author of The Transformation of American Quakerism. Hamm’s article on Cadwalader appeared in the Journal of the Early Republic (Vol. 28, No. 3, Fall 2008), and his essay on White is in the recent collection Quakers and Abolition, edited by Brycchan Carey and Geoffrey Plank. Both Cadwalader and White were allies of Elias Hicks, and Hamm’s essays illuminate the complex personal and political dynamics of the Hicksite split and its aftermath.

After she became a minister in 1817, Priscilla Coffin Hunt’s career, like Lucretia Mott’s, was bound up in the schism. During the 1820s, Quakers divided over the abusive power of the elders, their reliance of the Bible instead of the inward light, and their attachment to worldly wealth and influence, including that produced by slavery. Elias Hicks called on Quakers to return to the principle of the inward light. In many ways, Priscilla was the female Hicks, traveling from her home meeting in Indiana around the country to criticize the Orthodox (or evangelical) Quaker leaders. Hamm quotes from one of her Philadelphia sermons:

Oh, I am weary, the spirit within me is weary of high profession. For religion, is substituted opinion. Hence contentions, divisions and subdivisions; and in blind zeal and self-will the blessed Truth and its advocates are judged down, and the feet of the messengers are turned another way.

Hunt’s supporters called her “sublime, chaste, accurate and clear.” Her opponents declared “those are not the Doctrines which this society professes.” Unlike in Philadelphia and other parts of the country,  most Indiana Quakers joined the Orthodox. Hunt’s Blue River meeting was one of the exceptions.

Hamm’s article is interested not only in Hunt’s ministry, but her second marriage and, more scandalously, her divorce. In 1827, the same year as the Hicksite schism, she married a minister named Joseph Cadwalader. The marriage was not a happy one, and other Quakers whispered rumors of abuse and infidelity. Two years after her marriage, Priscilla left on an eight-year ministerial journey. In 1837, Joseph sued for divorce on grounds of desertion (Indiana was then on its way to becoming the capital of quickie divorces). He got his divorce, but lost his membership in the Society of Friends for selling liquor. Hamm argues that the Society of Friends did not have any mechanisms for dealing with unhappy marriages. He also suggests that knowledge of Priscilla Hunt Cadwalader’s marital woes influenced the perspectives of the Quaker women, including Amy Post and Lucretia Mott, who attended the Seneca Falls convention in 1848.

George F. White, a New York Hicksite minister, was Lucretia Mott’s arch enemy.  Hamm’s article considers White’s opposition to the anti-slavery movement in the context of the Hicksite split. In other words, how could two Hicksites (White and Mott) have such contradictory positions on abolition? Hamm explains that many Hicksites opposed the Orthodox in part due to their growing similarity to evangelical ministers. As Hamm writes, “Hicksites saw in the aggressive proselytizing and reforming fervor of the Second Great Awakening a threat to religious liberty.” White perceived participation in the anti-slavery movement, especially the American Anti-Slavery Society, as another manifestation of religious orthodoxy, bringing Quakers together with “hireling” ministers (those professionally trained and paid, unlike Quakers). As White argued in one 1840 sermon,

I believe the most powerful weapon, and which has been most destructive to the temporal happiness of man, is the usurped prerogative to designate sinners. O! how often, in the hands of a corrupt hierarchy, it has fattened the land with blood! The power and influence of hirelings the world over, and throughout all ages, have produced more suffering to the human race, than the aggregate from war, famine, pestilence, and slavery. 

In retrospect, such views of the relative problems of hireling ministers and slavery seem, at best, unrealistic. Yet many Hicksites praised White’s sermons, and his views threatened to further split Society of Friends. Even as White associated abolitionists with Orthodox Quakers, his opponents, including Lucretia Mott, compared White’s methods to those of the Orthodox elders, suppressing the views of anti-slavery Friends. Despite their history of opposing slavery, radical abolition divided Friends. Hamm’s article is a useful reminder that not all Quakers were abolitionists.

In these two articles, the Hicksite split is more than a theological dispute. By investigating these individual lives, Hamm traces its ramifications within and beyond the Society of Friends, showing its impact on the way Quakers thought about women, marriage, religion, and reform.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Covent Garden?

On the New Yorker website, Nicola Twilley recently wrote about Harris’s List of Covent Garden Ladies, a guide to the prostitutes of London published annually between 1757 and 1795.

The Wellcome Library in London recently digitized the 1787 and 1788 volumes. Twilley quotes the library’s head of research, Richard Aspin, on the volumes’ rarity.

The article also notes that there are a lot of mysteries about Harris’s List, starting with who started compiling it, who updated it over the decades, and what its real purpose was:

Aspin has no theories as to its authorship, but he brings up another point of scholarly contention: whether “Harris’s List” was actually soft-core erotic fiction, merely served up in the guise of a practical guide. “If you compare the cast of characters in these two editions, there seems to be almost a wholesale replacement of the names from one year to the next,” he points out. The book purports to list “the most celebrated ladies now on the town”—but it seems quite unlikely that the top one hundred or so prostitutes of London would really change so radically from year to year. . . .

Even assuming the descriptions are of real people, or at least based on real people, Aspin points out that eighty-six ladies (the tally in the 1787 edition; the total varies from year to year) is an infinitesimal fraction of the total number of prostitutes in London at the time, which is estimated to have been more than sixty thousand…

The world expert on Harris’s List appears to be London-based author Hallie Rubenhold, who has published a study called The Covent Garden Ladies; Pimp General Jack and the Extraordinary Story of Harris’s List and a compilation of entries from many editions. Those books don’t appear to be in print in the U.S. of A. Like the original publications, however, one ought to be able to obtain copies by asking the right people.

“My beloved wife Margaret Gage“

One of Boston 1775’s long-running questions is how much evidence there is for the belief that Margaret Gage, American-born wife of Gen. Thomas Gage, betrayed her husband by leaking his plans about the march on 18-19 Apr 1775 to Dr. Joseph Warren. After David Hackett Fischer made a case for that hypothesis in Paul Revere’s Ride, the story was widely retold at Boston historic sites.

That theory rests on the conclusion that Thomas and Margaret Gage became estranged after April 1775, with the general sending her home to England and treating her coldly thereafter. But, as I noted back here, they continued to have children.

Asa Gage of Atlanta, who notes that Margaret was “a distant cousin,” sent some additional material related to the Gages’ later life. With his permission, I’m sharing portions of his transcription of the general’s will, proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury and obtained through the British National Archives.

Margaret had two children after she returned to England, both conceived after the possible estrangement:

  • Emily Gage, b. 25 Apr 1776.
  • William Hall Gage, b. 2 Oct 1777.

Further, in his 1786 will the general takes very good care of Margaret, and refers to her as “beloved” on several occasions. Again, he may be bowing to convention in his language, but it does raise a question. He also made her his executrix:

…first I give unto my beloved wife Margaret Gage all my linen plate china and books together with my horses and equipage and also all my liquors of every sort and also all my pictures except my two miniature pictures . . .

it is my desire that what I have herein before given to my said wife shall be at her disposal at her pleasure. . . .

In trust to permit and suffer my wife Margaret Gage to hold and enjoy my said house in Portland Place with the appurtenances and all the goods and household furniture therein and to receive the rents and profits thereof for her own use and benefit during her life . . .

my said trustees shall during the life of my said wife receive the rents and benefits of my said plantations and estates in the island of Montserrat and do and shall pay one moiety or half part of the clear yearly rents and profits thereof unto my said wife during her natural life . . .

if any surplus should remain after the payment of my debts and funeral expenses upon trust to pay one third part of such surplus unto my said wife for her own use . . .

lastly I do hereby nominate constitute and appoint my said dear brother William Hall Lord Viscount Gage and my beloved wife Margaret Gage executor and executrix of this my last will and guardians to my children until they attain their respective ages of twenty one years 

Finally, Margaret’s brother Samuel Kemble of Friday Hill, Essex County, was one of three trustees for the general’s house in Portland Place, his plantations and estates on the island of Montserrat, his 18,000 acres of land on the Mohawk River in the New York state in North America, and other miscellaneous properties.

All in all, I see evidences of a continued normal relationship between Thomas and Margaret, but haven’t found any indication of actual estrangement.

Thanks to Asa Gage for this additional information and sound analysis.