During the revolutionary era, American leaders decided to use economic boycotts in their
struggle against Britain. The goal of these boycotts was to stop the purchase of imported goods
(which could only be purchased from England). For this to be successful, women would have to
increase the production of homespun while finding a way to do without certain products that could
not be obtained locally. This gave women's domestic roles political significance. The success
of this political tactic rested on the shoulders of women. Their participation in politics, even
in this slight way, produced a change in the way women thought of themselves. Prior to the
revolutionary era, should a woman had made a comment about politics, she would instantly
apologize for her 'mistake'. Women no longer thought of themselves as excluded from politics.
They began to discuss politics widely. The discussion of politics among women soon led to
political participation outside of domestic roles.
A trend started by Esther Reed, women's
groups started collecting money. This money was collected for the sole purpose of being donated
to the American war effort. The money was greatly needed and accepted with much gratitude by
General Washington. Female political participation would not stop there. In 1790, New Jersey
adopted an election law referring to voters as 'he or she', thereby giving women the right vote
more than a century before the 19th amendment would be added to the constitution. For the first
time women could actively participate in politics. Not just by discussion or donations. Women
had the ability to effect the outcome of an election. The American leaders who had proposed the
economic boycotts had no idea what they had started. Women's roles would never be the same.
Even though women's roles had changed through the course of the...