Politics, Patriotism and Women in Ireland, Britain and Colonial America, c.1700-c.1780

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Abstract

The use of the consumer boycott as a political tool is commonly associated with pre-revolutionary colonial America and has been identified by historians as an important means through which American women were politicized. This article argues that from the late seventeenth century, Irish political discourse advocated the non-consumption of imported goods and support for home manufactures by women in ways that were strikingly similar to those used later in North America. In Ireland and, subsequently in the American colonies, the virtuous woman consumer was given an active public role by political and social commentators. Rather than being a “brilliantly original American invention,” as T. H. Breen has argued, the political exploitation of a consumer boycott and the promotion of local industry were among what Bernard Bailyn has described as the “set of ideas, already in scattered ways familiar” to the revolutionary leaders through the Irish experience. The article also argues that a shared colonial environment gave Irish and American women a public patriotic role in the period, c. 1700–1780 that they did not have in the home countries of England and Scotland.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-38
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Women's History
Volume22
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010

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