While women were limited in the ways in which they could express their resistance to British treatment of the colonies compared to men, they could, through the purchases they made or did not make, send an economic message to British merchants. Fifty-one women of Edenton, North Carolina, in support of the Resolution of the Provincial Deputies of North Carolina, to boycott all British tea and cloth received after September 10, 1774, declared their intention in October of 1774 to abstain from drinking tea and buying manufactured products from England until the repressive acts they objected to were repealed. See my post on this.
The woman who organized the Edenton protest was Penelope Pagett Barker. Widowed twice at a young age, she inherited a substantial amount of money and property making her the richest woman in North Carolina. Her third husband, appointed as agent for the North Carolina Colony in London in 1761, was stranded there during the Revolution and did not return until 1778. During his absence Penelope successfully managed the family property and organized the protest that resulted in the Edenton Tea Party by canvassing door to door. She said, “Maybe it has only been men who have protested the king up to now. That only means we women have taken too long to let our voices be heard. We are signing our names to a document, not hiding ourselves behind costumes like the men in Boston did at their tea party. The British will know who we are.” The resolution read in part:
As we cannot be indifferent on any occasion that appears nearly to affect the peace and happiness of our country, and as it has thought necessary, for the public good, to enter into several particular resolves by a meeting of Members deputed from the whole Province, it is a duty which we owe, not only to our near and dear connections who have concurred in them, but to ourselves who are essentially interested in their welfare, to do everything as far as lies in our power to testify our sincere adherence to the same: and we do therefore accordingly subscribe this paper, as a witness of our fixed intention and solemn determination to do so.
Penelope Pagett Barker’s Resolution is remembered with a huge bronze teapot mounted on a cannon west of the Village Green. It has become a symbol of Edenton and its revolutionary women. The photo was taken by Donna Campbell Smith.