North Carolina women

For the most part, women in North Carolina enjoyed the standard rights enjoyed by women in this age.  However, due to North Carolina not being incredibly rigid when it came to enforcing formal law, women often enjoyed a lot of freedom in North Carolina, with many owning their own businesses, and wealthier women enjoying a high literacy rate.  However, for the most part, a woman’s position in North Carolina was lower than that of their male counterparts.  In the family women were expected to be hard workers, farm work, tailoring, candle making, and a wide variety of other skills were expected from women in North Carolina at this time.

Despite these restrictions, some women distinguished themselves especially during the Revolution.  North Carolina women in Wilmington took to the streets to burn their tea in protest of the British trade regulations.  However, the most prominent act of resistance by women in North Carolina took place in Edenton, when 51 women led by Penelope Baker agreed to boycott tea and a wide variety of other British products.  Due to women having such a strong role in getting goods for the household, this was a truly huge demonstration against Britain, and did a lot to decrease the political and economic influence that Britain held in North Carolina at the time.

Signing of the Tea Boycott by women of Edenton North Carolina

Penelope Barker, leader of the Edenton Tea boycott

Wives in North Carolina were expected to be subservient to their husbands, despite there being records of husbands being either abusive or blowing their money.  If a wife wanted to leave her husband, she had to apply for a legal divorce and get people from the community to testify that she had done nothing to anger her husband, and that she had always been obedient and submissive.  Even if a woman was divorced in North Carolina, she would probably get pretty much nothing out of it.

Overall, women in North Carolina were not treated any better or worse than in other parts of America.  While women of status in North Carolina such as Janet Schaw got to enjoy the luxury of travel and literacy, this was not something that many women of North Carolina could take advantage of.  But behind the scenes, women undoubtedly were vital in shaping North Carolina as well as the rest of the United States during this time.





New tradition: Edenton Tea Party


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *