Gateway to the Classics: American History Stories, Volume II by Mara L. Pratt
American History Stories, Volume II by  Mara L. Pratt

Daughters of Liberty


People who write histories always tell how brave and bold and patriotic the men and boys are; but seldom do they think it worth while to tell of the brave deeds of the women and girls. Now, I don't think this is fair at all, do you girls? And you, little boys, if your sisters had done something just as brave as your brothers had done, wouldn't you be very indignant if every body should come to your house and praise your brothers, and cheer them, and all the time shouldn't speak one word to your sisters?

I am sure you would; manly, brave hearted boys are always ready to stand up for their sisters, and are always very angry when some one hurts or neglects them in any way.

Now, of course the mothers and maidens couldn't take guns and swords and go into battle as the men did, although they did even do that in some cases. But let us see what they did do. Somebody must stay home and take care of the children, and the homes, and keep up the farms. So the brave women said to their husbands and sons, "You go into the battle-field, because you are stronger and larger and know about war; we will stay at home and keep the children cared for, that they may grow up strong to help you by and by; we will spin and weave day and night to keep you in yarn for stockings, and in cloth for clothes and blankets to keep you warm; we will plant, and harvest, and grind the corn, and do all your work on the farm that there may be food to send you, and food to keep you from starving when you all come home again."

What, think you, would the brave men in any war do if it were not for the brave women back of them at home to keep them from starving? O, it is a mean, cowardly man who would say that because the women didn't go forth in battle array that they didn't do their half in saving our country from British soldiers!

Let us see who these "Daughters of Liberty," as they called themselves, were.

As soon as the trouble between England and America broke out, the men had formed themselves into societies, and had called themselves "Sons of Liberty." They pledged themselves to do everything in their power to drive back the English rule. The women, too, not wishing to appear to be one step behind their fathers, and husbands, and brothers, formed themselves into societies—"The Daughters of Liberty." They pledged themselves not to buy a dress, or a ribbon, or a glove, or any article whatever that came from England. They formed spinning societies to make their own yarn and linen, and they wove the cloth for their own dresses and for the clothes of their fathers and brothers, and husbands and sons.


The women used to meet together to see who would spin the fastest. One afternoon a party of young girls met at the house of the minister for a spinning match. When they left, they presented the minister with thirty skeins of yarn, the fruit of their afternoon's work. The old women, some of whom were too old to do very much work, pledged themselves to give up their tea-drinking because the tea came to them from England, and because England had put a heavy tax on it. These dear old ladies, who loved their tea-drinking so much, bravely stood by their pledge. They drank catnip, and sage, and all sorts of herb teas, and pretended they liked it very much; but I suspect many an old lady went to bed tired and nervous, and arose in the morning with an aching head, all for the want of a good cup of tea.

At that time, there appeared in the newspapers many verses written by the English officers, no doubt, often making fun of these brave women, old and young. Here is one of the verses:

"O Boston wives and maids, draw near and see,

Our delicate Souchong and Hyson tea;

Buy it, my charming girls, fair, black or brown,

If not, we'll cut your throats and burn your town."

"Within eighteen months," wrote a gentlemen at Newport, R. I., "four hundred and eighty-seven yards of cloth and thirty-six pairs of stockings have been spun and knit in the family of James Nixon of this town." In Newport and Boston the ladies, at their tea-drinkings, used, instead of imported tea, the dried leaves of the raspberry. They called this substitute Hyperion. The class of 1770, at Cambridge, took their diplomas in homespun suits, that they too might show their defiance of English taxation without representation.

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