"THE LADIES OF TRENTON: WOMEN'S POLITICAL AND PUBLIC ACTIVISM IN REVOLUTIONARY NJ"

Catherine Hudak

Abstract


The Ladies of Trenton: Women's Political and Public Activism in Revolutionary NJ

By Catherine Hudak

Abstract

Using the Ladies of Trenton as a case study, this article examines the extent and forms of women's public and political activism in the early national period. An analysis of the Ladies of Trenton's efforts demonstrates the pivotal roles women played in the formation of the vibrant political culture that emerged in late eighteenth century America. These elite NJ women had access to rich worlds of social and educational refinement coupled with strong political connections. The Ladies of Trenton used their literacy skills, knowledge of the patriot cause, and high social standings to captivate the nation as they entered male-dominated spaces of politics and print culture.  Among the civic acts organized by the Ladies of Trenton include a fundraising campaign to assist the Continental Army and a public tribute honoring newly-elected President Washington. Contemporaries publicly recognized the significance of their fundraising to the success of the war effort as these NJ women refashioned gender roles for women by assembling to establish a committee, managing financial matters, and delving into military concerns.  The Ladies of Trenton's public tribute for Washington included profound symbolism commemorating the battles of Trenton and Princeton as well as being reflective of the new nation.  The contributions of the Ladies of Trenton demonstrate the presence of active public roles for women during this critical historical period of nation building in the United States.


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14713/njs.v1i1.12

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