Women, Trade, and the Roots of Consumer Societies
Abstract and Keywords
This chapter explains the significant, if often overlooked, ways in which both free and enslaved women as well as men participated actively and eagerly in trade around the Atlantic rim from 1500 to 1800. Commerce in the early modern period was not performed by heroic individuals or anonymous empires but by individuals embedded in familial and social relationships. The meanings that contemporaries accorded to female traders changed over time. With the expansion of Atlantic trade and particularly the increased availability of consumer goods in the mid-eighteenth century, women’s economic practices took on new political and social significance. By the end of the century, however, several forms of women’s commercial activity were attended by danger and backlash. By the 1830s, commerce itself had come to be defined as a male activity, even as women continued to participate in trade.
Trade in the early modern period was performed not by heroic individuals or anonymous empires but by individuals embedded in familial and social relationships. Both women and men participated actively and eagerly in the opportunities offered by trading around the Atlantic rim from 1500 to 1800. Those practices that bookended trade—production of goods and their consumption—were highly gendered activities in this period. But gendered power played a more limited role in the exchange of these goods that took place between these bookends. The integration and expansion of African, American, and European trading networks throughout the eighteenth century threw into sharp relief the varied gendered practices of Atlantic trade. As Europeans colonized North America, gendered conflicts over economic practices resulted in a patchwork of compromises and accommodations.
It is in the zone of exchange, operating between what some call the “private” world of home production and the “public” world of sale, that the character of early modern trade emerged. Historians of gender, perhaps rejecting those dichotomies of public and private that had defined so much women’s history until the mid-1990s, have been in the forefront of new scholarship on trade itself. Studies of trade and commerce traverse a number of old categories besides public and private, including national and international, consumption and production.
Even more relevant to this explosion of interest in women’s trading practices, however, has been the recent emphasis on the economic strands of imperialism and a vibrant transatlantic history that has reformulated commerce as circuits rather than the localized production or consumption of previous historiographies. Replacing older forms of economic history, which tended to follow capital rather than the people who engaged in the practices of exchange, the gendered history of trade has made the market less of an abstraction by studying actual people’s lives. Attention to female traders of all (p. 336) races and statuses has redefined our understanding of both commerce and imperialism. Rather than focusing only on large-scale trading and international merchants, paying attention to retailers (who were as likely to be female as male), hucksters, and fur traders allows historians to uncover the fact that these actors were foundational to early modern commerce and the empires that commerce supported.
Contemporaries certainly identified both trade and consumption with female behavior. With the expansion of Atlantic trade and particularly the increased availability of consumer goods in the mid-eighteenth century, women’s economic practices took on new political and social significance. At the end of the century, however, several forms of women’s commercial activity were attended by danger and backlash. By the 1830s, commerce itself had come to be defined as a male activity, even as women continued to participate in trade.
Evidence for women’s market activity long predates the early modern period. Before the establishment of Atlantic trade in the sixteenth century, all of the areas around the Atlantic rim had women as central participants in market practices. Within certain parameters, women’s trading work was completely unremarkable. At the same time, however, the exchange of goods was structured by social and cultural expectations that differed across cultures.
In North America, Indian women were integral parts of trading networks from the Mississippi to the West Coast. Archaeologists have found that female consumers helped drive and shape trading networks for agricultural implements, for example.1 Likewise, Dutch sailors encountered Native women (as well as men and children) prepared to trade hemp and tobacco with them on their first trip up the Hudson River in 1609.2 Trade in many North American cultures was marked as much by social connection and gift-giving as by profit. Trade was a way of creating networks between people as well as simply exploiting ones that already existed. Women’s role in exchange, then, was not only as direct traders of goods but also as mediators of the kin relationships necessary for trade itself. These kin relationships extended far beyond blood relatives, and could include female prisoners of war who had been adopted into their captor’s family. Iroquois and Algonquian peoples often adopted female prisoners rather than killing them as they did men. Not all female prisoners could be adopted, however; those who were complete strangers to their captives’ kinship systems were more likely to be traded as slaves. As a result, there may have been a conflation between women as traders and women’s bodies as an object of trade, especially in the indigenous market for captives.3
In West Africa, women sold their own produce and medicines. Although evidence is scarce for women’s marketing in the precolonial period, female traders seem to have participated in both local markets and neighboring ones. Their previous involvement with small-scale marketing apparently positioned some female traders to create (p. 337) partnerships with early Portuguese and Danish traders in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Some of these women became international traders, especially in the slave trade, in their own right. No solidarity of sisterhood or even of color existed between these female slave traders and the women they sold into Atlantic slavery.4
European market women also regularly participated in trade, although rarely as major merchants. Selling home-produced wine and textiles, women across cultures in Europe found the marketplace a useful site for earning sufficient money to make ends meet. While some wealthy widows broke into international markets, the majority of women, both married and single, used small-scale shops and taverns to supplement their family incomes.
Women’s Economic Activity and the Rise of Atlantic Trade
In the sixteenth century, European empires sought conquest and trade in the Americas, and this colonial context created a newly gendered world of exchange. Both directly and indirectly, women of all races drove the expansion of Atlantic trade. Opportunities for some women to participate in international trade expanded, while their work in local markets extended the reach of Atlantic goods. Indirectly, women’s familial and sexual relationships with men were also essential to the creation of the Atlantic economy even when they only occasionally participated in the actual trade of American goods themselves.
Some of the earliest shifts in gendered practices were apparent among Native women of the northeast. The fur trade, as much as tobacco, quickly pulled North America into the Atlantic networks of exchange.5 Both Algonquian and Iroquoian women traded directly with Dutch settlers during the seventeenth century. New archaeological and historical work has revised an earlier belief that Native women stayed at home while men dealt with outsiders. For example, two account books from late seventeenth-century Albany reveal that indigenous women were involved in about half of the recorded exchanges.
While Native women did hold some 20 percent of these accounts in their own names, most of their fur trading occurred as part of an account listed under a man’s name. Dutch businessmen noted the activities of female traders and often recorded their trading interactions with Native women as part of a family network, in much the same way that they understood female participation in Dutch family business. In both Dutch and northern Native American economies, conjugal couples, rather than single men, participated in the fur trade. Trade was not an individual act but rather a means of contributing to the family economy.6
Moreover, because the fur and deerskin trades were so closely tied to diplomacy in the colonial period, Native women’s trade sometimes had political meanings overlooked by (p. 338) their colonial partners. As European men tried to make connections with Native traders, they recorded but misunderstood the acts of exchange in which women participated. Women did sell skins to colonial traders, but they also sold food and shelter.7 Although some historians have seen women as “the silent partners in the trade networks,” their silence is more the result of the gendered records kept by English traders who saw women’s work in these networks as “gifts” or domestic labor rather than as mercantile exchange. European traders were more likely to notice the participation of Native women’s trade in comestibles, even clearly Atlantic products like rum, when these women traded with other Natives.8
As the fur trade expanded in the mid-seventeenth century, Dutch merchants increasingly included women in their ranks. Although Dutch law assumed that married women had to have an explicit document empowering them to act in the family interests if their husbands were away, the increase in Atlantic trade created certain loopholes even for married women. In both old and New Netherland, women who were publically known as traders could act with full legal authority even while their husbands were alive. At trading posts along the Hudson River from New Amsterdam to Beverwyck (later Albany), Dutch women openly, and often successfully, acted as merchants.9
But if Dutch ideas about gender and trade simply expanded in the new colonial context, other European ideologies underwent more substantial revisions. In particular, the fur trade itself compelled male traders from other European cultures to rethink the systems of exchange that they brought to North America. Rather than meet at a common trading post to exchange goods with indigenous trappers, French and English men hoped to integrate themselves more centrally at the site of production for peltry. To do so, they soon learned that they needed to include Native women as well as men in their new trading networks. Through matrilineal kinship ties, Indian women had begun to control the flow of goods in and out of their communities via their sons-in-law. Older indigenous ideas about exchanging women as pawns between political entities merged with Europeans’ experiences with wide-flung trade connections. French men tapped into Native networks by marrying indigenous women who provided them with access to trade goods and labor in producing saleable animal hides. In the southeast, English men tended to enter into more temporary sexual and labor relationships with “trading girls” who, along with their families, shaped both the European access to skins and the Native market in consumer items. This way of involving women in trade was new for most European men. Although Dutch men rarely traveled into the interior to acquire furs, both English and French men made these sexual and familial networks integral to the peltry trade.10
The impact that Native matrilineal practices had on gender and trade in the colonies is particularly evident when compared with North America’s other major export: tobacco. English women in the Chesapeake rarely, if ever, joined in the selling of that crop throughout the Atlantic.11 From its origins as a cash crop for the predominantly male Jamestown settlement, English men dominated the market in tobacco, even as enslaved African men and women grew the plant and processed the leaves. European patrilineal societies ensured that men controlled the labor force necessary (p. 339) for growing tobacco. Even the relatively large number of widows in seventeenth-century Virginia quickly remarried and handed over control of their plantations to their new husbands.12
By contrast, it is clear that women’s participation in the fur trade drove that Atlantic market. As Native people were increasingly pulled into seventeenth-century transatlantic networks of trade, Europeans, both male and female, embraced the potential that women traders offered to an expanded Atlantic commerce. By the end of the century, the conduits of trade over the Atlantic had so enlarged the possibilities for commercial trade for colonists that even English women found ways to become significant economic actors in these markets.
As European colonists expanded their control over North America, gendered ideologies structuring the relationship of trade and marriage shaped American markets. Although English, Spanish, French, and Dutch legal cultures differed in the restrictions they created for married women, all of them granted men both economic authority and enormous control over family resources. At the same time, however, this control was never complete, a situation that regularly produced tension between gender ideology and practice.13
Take, for example, the English common law doctrine of coverture. A legal fiction that held that a woman’s legal personality was entirely subsumed under her husband’s, coverture effectively rendered married women impotent financial actors. A married woman could not assume debt, sell real estate, or sign contracts except alongside her husband. As the eighteenth-century British jurist William Blackstone wrote, “By marriage, the husband and wife are one person in law: that is, the very being or legal existence of the woman is suspended during the marriage, or at least is incorporated and consolidated into that of the husband: under whose wing, protection, and cover, she performs every thing.” Following Blackstone, many historians came to imagine married English women and financial trade as mutually exclusive categories.14 However, coverture was far less restrictive in practice than it might have seemed in theory.
Coverture created very specific rules about the gendered process by which private property could be transferred. At the same time, however, coverture was not an ideology intended to control all women’s property but only that of married English women. Unmarried women (legally known as femes sole), by contrast, were in the eyes of English common law as unfettered economic agents as men, and they had a very important role to play in the creation of finance and Atlantic capitalism. Because coverture was meant to reinforce women’s subordinate position in a household, it did not impugn women’s innate abilities to trade. The imperfect control that coverture afforded men over women’s economic practices, therefore, set the stage for other gaps in male-dominated worlds of commerce and exchange.15
(p. 340) English women who wanted to trade certainly entered the business at a disadvantage. Because inheritance practices directed real estate to sons and movable goods (such as clothes and furniture) to daughters, women’s inherited wealth was unlikely to be wealth producing. Even when women did inherit property, men continued to make decisions about the use of the capital. Widows, for example, received by tradition a part of their husband’s estate (usually one-third), but they were granted only the use, not control of the property, which was held in trust for sons or sons-in-law. Inheritance, therefore, rarely provided women with the capital they needed to become merchants.
Moreover, the cultural expectations that accompanied coverture further limited women’s access to founding larger businesses. Legal papers and business directories, as well as women themselves, tended to identify even female businesswomen by their husbands’ occupations. As they were literally written out of the creation of banks and commercial networks, women in the eighteenth century appeared increasingly marginal to international trade and other larger networks, both in reality and in imagination. At least in England, even if women turned a profit in trade, “the expectation was that a woman’s earnings would go to family expenses.” Such an expectation severely limited women’s abilities to collect capital for ambitious ventures. As a result, English women filled the ranks of shopkeepers, but not the major merchants who wielded political as well as economic power.16
But not all European cultures assumed that finance was a male prerogative. Unlike the English, both French and Dutch legal cultures gave married and widowed women much more control over money within the family. Dutch economic culture assumed that husbands and wives were both partners in a common business of marriage. Although married women had some legal limitations, the wives of Dutch sailors and merchants could obtain an “empowerment,” a legal permission slip that would allow them to trade for the benefit of their joint marital property. Women like Amsterdam’s Annetgen Arents identified herself as “a public business woman” who engaged in “public trade.” Simply claiming the status of a “public business woman” conferred even more legal abilities on a married Dutch woman to conduct business. As the seventeenth-century Dutch legal theorist Hugo Grotius noted, “Nowadays a married woman, engaged in public commerce or business, can indeed contract in all matters pertaining to that commerce or trade.”17
When Europeans, both men and women, came to North America, these diverse and contradictory attitudes about women, trade, and property came with them. English men’s decisions to concentrate on farming—for subsistence and trade—for example, resulted in their bringing both families and the practice of male-determined financial decisions to New England. Similarly, Dutch attempts to create a trading post in New Amsterdam necessarily involved the long-standing practice of including women as merchants in a family business. Yet the new trading dynamics of the Atlantic world made it impossible for Europeans to import their gendered expectations of trade unchanged. Local colonial practices shifted the expectations put on women and trade in America.
(p. 341) British Colonial Trade
The growth of Atlantic trade by 1700 was dependent on several variables, including changes in financial instruments and information, an increase in consumer demand for groceries (sugar, tea) and drygoods (fabric, pins), and an acceleration in the slave trade. All of these factors led to the expansion of women’s involvement in Atlantic trade as both traders and consumers. Coverture did not disappear from the Atlantic marketplace, but women came to play an increased role in the trade of Atlantic port cities. Particularly in the new forms of financial exchange and luxury goods, the presence of women in the marketplace shaped and expanded trade.
Since the legal constraints on married white women’s exchange persisted through the eighteenth century, colonial women had to manipulate the inconsistencies and even restrictions of coverture in order to participate in markets. The growth of the Atlantic economy depended on the widespread participation of female traders at all levels and of many legal statuses. Some women managed to achieve either formal or assumed feme sole status regardless of their marital status. As feme sole traders, married women could sign contracts, assume debt, and bring suit without their husbands’ consent. It is impossible to say how many married women traded under the legal fiction of feme sole in any given period. For example, historians can trace the names of about one hundred women who were engaged in overseas trading in New York in the middle years of the eighteenth century out of a city of about eleven thousand people. But as with Native women in Dutch accounts, legal records did not always record white women’s economic activity.18
Wealthy women in particular seemed to move back and forth between trading under their own names and trading under those of male relatives. Mary Alexander, one of the wealthiest women in eighteenth-century New York, conducted business with banking houses, Dutch suppliers, and colonial debtors under her own name. At the same time, however, she occasionally used her husband’s name to ship goods. Account books regularly hint that women were the primary traders under their husband’s account, even while they obscure the details of white women’s economic activity. Thus, many traditional sources for economic history, by covering up the evidence of women’s trading, reflect the conventions of early modern coverture.
Middling and elite white traders also turned the limits of coverture to their own ends. Using their husband’s family networks and capital, some women were able to extend their reach across the Atlantic with male relatives as agents and sources of news. Widows in particular were often able to carry on the family business so successfully that their sons—though not daughters—became major traders in their own right. However, just as women’s names only became visible after they were widowed, it seems probable that their daughters may have also carried on the family business under another name.19
(p. 342) Some studies have shown that a move to more formal ways of collecting debts through the courts pushed women out of the exchange economies of the colonies. From New England to the Chesapeake, the early eighteenth century marked a decline in the numbers of women who appeared in court as parties to debt or contract cases. This newly “litigated economy,” which depended on hauling debtors into court, threw the legal standing of married women into high relief. In the formal setting of a courtroom, women’s ability to sue or be sued was integral to the economy. A few women managed to use this legal limitation to their advantage. Elizabeth Fairday in New York argued that she could not be held liable for debts that she contracted while married. Although he could sue her husband’s estate, her frustrated creditor would not find it easy to get his money back.20
Merchants working in the transatlantic, as opposed to colonial markets, however, rarely attempted to collect debts through the courts. Thus although the transition from informal “book debt” (in which the debtor simply ran up a tab) to bills of credit (written instruments that circulated widely, similar to a modern-day check) may have contributed to the exclusion of women from domestic trade in small communities, the same phenomenon did not seem to hold in the larger world of Atlantic exchange. Instead, the regulation of credit across long distances through financial instruments such as bills of exchange openly included female merchants. Because the value of these bills depended heavily on the credibility of the signees, women’s familial and trade connections, including those produced by their marriages, often shored up their creditability. Moreover, the fact that bills of exchange depended both on local, personal contacts and on impersonal distant correspondents meant that even small-scale female traders or shopkeepers could use these instruments to extend their trading networks across the Atlantic. These same family networks also provided women with the information about prices, availability, and markets so necessary to making a profit in a commercial world spread across up to four continents.21
While international trade in furs, rum, or spermaceti candles was limited to women with family connections in Atlantic trade, shopkeeping was a form of economic enterprise open to a much wider range of women. Unlike in French Louisiana, shopkeeping in British America was not an inherently lower-status occupation, although smaller shops and market stalls were certainly run by women of limited means.22 Any estimate of shopkeepers is sure to undercount the number of women who actually sold goods in a store, but some studies of urban centers suggest that women were responsible for nearly half of the retail stores during the middle of the eighteenth century. Female shopkeepers were much more likely than their male counterparts to specialize in dry goods and “exotic” groceries like sugar, tropical fruit, and chocolate, as well as liquor. Such foodstuffs in particular depended heavily on the extension of Atlantic slave labor and trade for their production. Thus the expansion of the Atlantic economy through the slave trade was closely tied to local economic opportunities for free women at all economic ranks.23
Food, drink, and clothing provided opportunities for even enslaved women to engage in trade. Slave women outnumbered men as hucksters of produce and food as early as the (p. 343) seventeenth century in Barbados. In the eighteenth century, enslaved women also filled the markets of North American urban centers. Slaveowners encouraged this commerce for their own profit, in some places issuing badges or other markers of white approval for black marketing. At the same time, enslaved women frequently sold food that they had grown or made in their limited free time for a very small profit, which may have conferred some sense of autonomy. Yet these sites of exchange were always risky for participants. Slave codes around the British Atlantic regularly tried to restrict the terms under which slaves could trade, and frequently criminalized any form of exchange by slaves.24
Similarly, officials sometimes urged poor white women to become hucksters, peddlers, or small-scale shopkeepers by granting them free licenses. For these very marginal traders, the combination of food, drink, and secondhand goods proved to be both effective and risky. Poor white women in cities often managed unlicensed taverns that doubled as pawnshops for both free and enslaved sellers of used goods. Officials typically assumed that secondhand goods, especially those sold by slaves, were stolen, and tried to prosecute the women who ran these pawnshops for entertaining slaves and fencing stolen goods. But from the perspective of the poor, both free and enslaved, this informal economy gave them access to dry goods and other consumer items that were otherwise out of their reach. This unregulated—but not completely illegal—market in secondhand goods was particularly hospitable to female participants. Thus, as both buyers and sellers, poor and enslaved women entered into the wide world of Atlantic goods and commerce.25
Yet this invitation for women to join in the commercial world had a price. Throughout the eighteenth century, several forms of women’s commercial activity were attended by danger and backlash. Pawning, selling, importing, and sometimes even acts of generosity could land a woman trader in trouble with her neighbors or with the law. At any moment, a woman who was trading in unlicensed alcohol or secondhand goods could be accused of running a “disorderly house,” which suggested sexual impropriety and even prostitution. Similarly, African American market women were castigated not only as disorderly but also as sexually “loose.”26
The saga of Elizabeth Anderson, a shopkeeper in mid-eighteenth-century New York City, demonstrates the dangers that faced women in commerce. Anderson, like many white widows, opened a little shop of imports in New York for which her Boston-based brother supplied the goods. Anderson “hired a small shop or shed with a Chamber over it not a foot wide in a good Neighbourhood . . . and sold Bread Beer Candles Cheese in small Quantitys by the penny Lemmons Oranges Limes potatos and other such small Commoditys.”27 One day, some wealthy young men stopped at the shop and saw Elizabeth’s 14-year-old-daughter Mary. In a drama that evokes a Samuel Richardson novel, they invented a plan to get Mary alone in a tavern and rape her. They were foiled, but when her mother asked the attorney general to bring charges of attempted rape against the four young men, the perpetrators turned to the risky world of the market to entrap and discredit Elizabeth. Deciding that their best defense was to turn the tables on their accuser, the young men accused Elizabeth of illegal trading, dealing in stolen goods, and trafficking with slaves. She was found guilty and sentenced to the maximum corporal (p. 344) punishment of thirty-nine lashes on her bare back. The colony’s attorney general was shocked at the young men’s successful use of the justice system to get their revenge. Not only was Elizabeth, in the attorney general’s words, “whipped most inhumanly” until she fainted, but the men manage to acquit themselves of the charge of attempted rape.
Although the attempted rape of Mary Anderson is an unambiguous story of an effort to assert power through gendered violence, the attempted destruction of her mother, Elizabeth, shows a very different use of power. The physical violence that the gang of men used was only partly successful; their harnessing the power of trade against a female trader was complete. The tale of Anderson’s persecution reveals both the potential and the hazards of the corners of the marketplace open to poor women. The market was by no means closed to women, regardless of their status. But it was a dangerous place for them to exploit.
Atlantic commerce itself was not gendered in the eighteenth century. White women, free black women, Native women, even enslaved women all found ways to make money through trade. The remarkable openness of the Atlantic markets to people of all ranks was in part the result of the very hierarchical structures that produced it. The expansion of the trade in enslaved people fueled a rapid surge in the production of sugar and other groceries. These foodstuffs as well as other populuxe (former luxury) goods could then be traded by men and women. Poorer women could turn consumer items like clothing into a medium of exchange that could buy everything from basic necessities to a legal document. Free people also worked harder and arranged their households (including kin, servants, and slaves) in order to produce more marketable goods to barter for consumer items, behavior that Jan de Vries has dubbed the “Industrious Revolution.” And even as households and plantations reorganized their labor in order to participate more fully in consumer markets, the impresarios of those markets also reorganized their family lives to take advantage of these new consumer possibilities. For such trading women, marriage could improve their access to international exchange. In these situations, both marriage and poverty could drive women further into Atlantic trade networks, rather than limiting their prospects.28
Elaboration and Expansion of Atlantic Commerce
With the expansion of eighteenth-century Atlantic commerce and particularly the new availability of consumer goods at midcentury, women’s economic practices took on new political and social significance as a source of interest and anxiety. Until mid-century, concern about women’s trading practices was primarily focused on their vending of goods. After 1740 or so, however, the consumption of these goods became a marker of both class and gender status. As a result, women’s shopping and purchasing came under both cultural and political scrutiny.
(p. 345) Shopping for groceries and dry goods increasingly became the responsibility of women, especially in urban areas. The webs of connection that importing these goods required were equally important for their purchase. “Proxy shoppers,” armed with someone else’s credit and retail information, made decisions about what to purchase and how much to pay. The knowledge of prices, fashions, and access that female merchants garnered as they imported goods became a necessary part of their customers’ experience. In some urban settings, enslaved women’s work included shopping for others, not just selling. Although some women found shopping to be a sociable and leisure activity, for others, it was burdensome labor.29
By the middle of the eighteenth century, shopping for household goods, dry goods, and groceries came to be seen as a gendered pursuit, not simply women’s work. The goods of the so-called consumer revolution played a fundamental role in the performance of a new kind of genteel behavior that separated polite society from the rude masses. Increasingly, goods were used to signal social power of class and gender in a world defined by the mobility of the Atlantic world. Indeed, even slaves, considered a commodity themselves, participated in this emerging “revolution.”30
Femininity quickly came to define consumption itself. Popular culture associated tea-drinking and sartorial fashion with women, even though both men and women drank the stimulating beverage and wore modish clothing. Through a circular logic, consumption seemed female because women consumed goods, and women consumed goods because they “naturally” gravitated to vanity and display. To political philosophers and literary hacks alike, the acquisition and use of fashionable goods thus came to define female power. Female consumption simply eclipsed all of women’s other economic activity in the political imagination. The result was that gender binaries themselves were refracted and solidified through consumption.31
Consumer goods were not necessarily luxury goods, enjoyed only by the wealthy. Ironically, the more these goods were supposed to create a divide between the genteel and the rude, the more widespread they became in colonial societies. As women continued to use new goods as part of a larger system of exchange, they pushed consumer trends into the secondhand market. Ordinary people as well as elites thus participated in a world of goods, undercutting the intended goal of those goods to create status distinctions. In the 1730s, for example, the New York Gazette complained that women of the lower sort had such a “gay and splendid appearance” by being entirely “covered with Silk and Satin” that they were indistinguishable from “People of the best Estates in Town.” The cultural work of differentiation that clothing performed was never quite as straightforward as elites hoped.32
In part because of the social significance that the consumer revolution attributed to goods, imported commodities became a central piece of the political economy of the American Revolution. When imports meant so much more than protection from the elements or food to fill one’s belly, the refusal to deal in such goods also took on significance for the political economy beyond the bottom line. Colonial radicals organized boycotts of British consumer goods in the late 1760s as a protest against taxes leveled by Parliament; female merchants and shopkeepers as well as their male colleagues had (p. 346) to choose sides. For women who were deeply involved with importing Atlantic goods, their business practices could define their political alliances.33
Not all female merchants supported the boycotts, and some refused to limit their trade for politics. When a New York newspaper published lists of merchants for and against continuing a nonimportation boycott of tea in 1770, fourteen of the sixteen women listed were ready to end the boycott, perhaps because their stocks of surplus goods were not as extensive as their male colleagues’. Like men, women who did not support nonimportation were threatened with violence.34 In 1769, two sisters in Boston who refused to abide by such an agreement faced down a committee of angry selectmen in their shop.
Consumer boycotts had a long history as a common woman’s tool against local price gougers. As radical male politicians appropriated this tactic against the British government, they raised the question of who wielded the power when goods and politics connected. Male revolutionaries tried to make the choice of drink or clothing into a statement of political affiliation, and some female shoppers took up the challenge, rioting when shopkeepers set the price of food too high. They claimed a clear link between prices and patriotism, doing their best to compel shopkeepers to trade on the terms that they considered both morally and politically appropriate. But such political movements also become a way to socially discipline women’s economic activities. Newspapers published editorials like an “Address to the Ladies” that urged them to “No more Ribbons wear, nor in rich dress appear/Love your country much better than fine things.” Some women resisted the scolding, insisting on tea for medicinal purposes or refusing to wear homespun; they rejected, in other words, the assumed relationship between politics and shopping.35
While decisions about selling or importing goods required women to work with a similar calculus of profit risk and political allegiance as men, buying those goods had a much more clearly gendered set of implications. Because so many of the boycotted goods had been gendered female, as had the enjoyment of them, women’s purchases were a referendum on both their politics and their sex. As politicians tried to entice or shame women into treating consumer goods as signifiers of political status, some women continued to insist that these items marked only the social status that distinguished men from women or elite women from those who were merely ordinary.
During and immediately following the American Revolution, political elites considered loosening coverture and other restrictions on wealthy women’s economic autonomy, citing new ideas about property ownership. As early as 1776, John Adams was parsing the relationship between land ownership and the right to vote. Although they did not enact new limitations on women’s commercial activities, legislators’ concern over property rights had real implications for women’s access to money. The US courts gave (p. 347) new vigor to coverture as a legal principle, although one that judges deployed carefully. As before, men controlled the property that white women inherited; as a result, real estate rarely became the capital for women’s commercial businesses. Within a few years, moreover, courts in the original thirteen states reaffirmed married women’s political subservience in cases such as Martin v. Massachusetts, which argued that married women could not act as independent political agents, especially when it came to control of real estate.36
But as the United States expanded its geographic reach, this simple subordination of white women to their husbands became insufficient as an ideological tool to manage the new political reality of a diverse and factious nation that doubled with the Louisiana Territory in 1803. Soon after the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court asserted that as a married woman Anna Martin could make no decisions that would affect her property, other courts further south and west handed down more flexible rulings.
In Louisiana, for example, legal codes governing married women’s property continued to protect ethnically French white women whose families were accustomed to civil law (a Continental legal tradition that preserved separate estates of men and women) even after the region had formally come under the United States’ control. Anglo-descended white women were much less able to control their property after marriage in the same area. In places like Florida, where the US government was actively seeking to extend its claims to land controlled by the Seminoles and other Native groups, the courts were even more likely to support married white women’s property rights if those suits consolidated white control over land. That the courts intended to extend Anglo-American power, rather than the rights of married women, is evident from the fact that the courts were much less likely to protect the property of married women of color unless they were particularly wealthy. White women’s wealth thus slowly came to underwrite the United States’ geographic expansion.37
Wealthier women’s investments in the banking system were also essential contributions to the United States’ political economy. Ranging from Abigail Adams’s unscrupulous trading in Revolutionary war bonds to the small investments of Massachusetts women who owned over a third of the state’s banking capital, female stockholders were necessary for the growth of the US government.38 Yet despite, or perhaps because of, the United States’ reliance on women’s property and investment in the new nation, the economic activity of wealthy women in particular came to be either ignored or denigrated.
Popular culture marked this trend very clearly, implying that trade was controlled entirely by white men. In Royall Tyler’s 1787 play The Contrast, the old-fashioned Dutch merchant Van Rough was relieved to come across evidence of his daughter’s financial acumen, even if it was, as he considered it, masked by her silly claims to morality and gentility. “Leave women to look out in these matters; for all they look as if they didn’t know a journal from a ledger . . . they mind the main chance as well as the best of us.”39 Forty years later, however, popular fiction constructed its plot twists around women’s ignorance of the market. Hannah Farnham Sawyer Lee’s Three Experiments of Living restricted women’s economic knowledge to the household itself. When it came to (p. 348) property, the patriarch of the novel insisted, “women never understand these things, and therefore, they should not talk about them.”40
One of the most striking results of this cultural shift from acceptance of women’s trading to denigration of it was that the figure of the female merchant disappeared. It did not take long for newspapers, novelists, and politicians to hide the evidence of wealthy women’s trading, financial knowledge, and mercantile networks behind a veil of pastoralization that romanticized their work as “gift giving” or being “neighborly.” Even more directly, some Americans rewrote the history of female traders into narratives of grasping and destructive women. In Letters from an American Farmer, J. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur gushed approvingly over the wealthy Loyalist merchant from Nantucket Keziah Folger Coffin. “Who is he in this country, and who is a citizen of Nantucket or Boston, who does not know Aunt Kesiah?” he demanded in 1782. By the 1830s, however, “Aunt Kesiah” had been transformed into the ambitious and conniving Miriam Coffin by the novelist Joseph Coleman Hart. At the end of Miriam Coffin: Or the Whale-Fisherman, Miriam’s husband orders her to “Go—go to thy kitchen, woman, and do thou never meddle with men’s affairs more.”41
The growth of the United States’ claims westward did not immediately close down the opportunities for trade that were evident before independence. Yet like the white women whose claims to land and slaves were upheld in order to support US power over Native land and people, Indian women’s access to trade and to property ironically expedited the expansion of the United States’ economy and political power after 1803. Expanding on the intercultural connections between Native and Anglo families established in the colonial period, the nineteenth-century fur trade continued to operate through personal networks created through marriages of Native women and white men.42
Although large trading companies such as Hudson’s Bay Company encouraged intercultural marriages in order to give European traders access to Native sources of peltry, women also used these marriages for their own trading networks. Sally Ainse, for example, was a part Oneida woman who married the cultural interpreter Andrew Montour in 1744. After fifteen years of marriage, she left Montour to trade on her own in furs, alcohol, and other commodities. She initially retained the title “Mrs. Montour,” although she obviously traded on her own account. Sometime in the next decade, she stopped using the name Montour at all, expanded her commercial reach westward, and eventually settled in Detroit, where she successfully plied an extensive trade well into the 1790s. Free from coverture while still able to tap into the English networks she had gained from her interpreter-husband, Ainse enjoyed a half-century of trade with men who were happy to buy and sell from her. Only the seizure of her land as part of a colonial purchase in Canada dealt her a serious blow. It was the colonial state’s unrelenting desire for land, much more than Ainse’s position as a female trader, that limited the opportunities for her, and for other Native female traders.43
With few profits to attract state intervention, poorer women’s participation in urban trade continued to be as extensive as it had been in the pre-Revolutionary era. In fact, the expansion, elaboration, and specialization of capitalism depended on the commercial exploits of female entrepreneurs, both large and small scale. The (p. 349) work of pawnshop owners, hucksters, and other small traders continued to fuel the informal economy established during the previous century. The work of these petty entrepreneurs, however, from brothel madams to the matriarchs of horse-trading families, was even more robustly redefined as illegal and illegitimate than it had been in the eighteenth century, as male merchants sought cultural capital for their own larger business practices. Unwilling to recognize the commercial work of these small-scale female dealers, the new captains of industry pushed women’s work further into the shadows.44
Invisible though elites may have wished they were, both the informal economy and women’s marketing on the local level appear to have expanded in the early nineteenth century. Particularly for the burgeoning free black population in Philadelphia and other cities, the marketplace offered possibilities for black women who rejected domestic service. Although city officials tried to regulate the informal economy out of existence, female hucksters and peddlers fought back in a vain attempt to claim a recognized place in the new political economy. Despite their political failure to gain the state’s protection, however, female petty traders continued to dominate urban marketplaces in ways that female merchants no longer could. Those socially elite women found themselves constrained by reinvigorated laws of coverture as well as class expectations that imagined that the hustle of the marketplaces would damage a woman’s femininity. The working poor, however, continued to use the marketplace as a way for women to enhance their families’ earnings.45
Small and middling female traders were able to hold onto some part of the world of commerce in the South as well. In Charleston and Savannah, enslaved women did a brisk business in both produce and baked goods. Some of these women were licensed by their owners to sell produce, in part to pay for their own upkeep, which meant that their control over their own profits was limited. Others, however, were the lynchpins of an unregulated economy that both whites and blacks exploited; a few runaways even continued to trade in urban markets, despite the risk of recapture.46
Still, enslaved women were far more likely to be traded than traders in southern states, due in part to the legal property regimes there that permitted free married women to use civil courts of equity, rather than common law courts, to lay claim to slaves and income. In South Carolina, for example, Maria Perron Beaury argued in 1813 that during the four years that her husband had deserted her and her two children, she had entered into a formal partnership (now amicably concluded) to run a grocery store with William Collins. When her husband returned, he threatened to seize all of her profits, including the three slaves she had bought. Maria managed to convince an equity court to grant her an injunction against her husband, “restraining him from selling & disposing of, or otherwise exercising any act of ownership” over her property. Unlike a common-law court, an equity court was not bound to consider coverture. Instead, the court apparently recognized her “assiduity and attention to Business” and was willing to let her control both the money and the people that were the profits from her shop.47 The grocery trade itself in which Beaury had successfully participated was clearly an acceptable way for her to support herself or to buy others.
(p. 350) Metaphors of webs and networks dominate our descriptions of early modern trade. A new emphasis on the traders rather than the products of exchange exposes the centrality of women to the expansion of the Atlantic economy. The financial and spatial expansion of the Atlantic marketplace made room for women of all races and ranks to trade—and for some women to be traded. But as consumer items flooded the shops in the eighteenth century, goods themselves began to accrue political, cultural, and especially gendered meanings. Suspicion began to fall on female shoppers by the second half of the eighteenth century, and female traders, too, came under increased scrutiny.
The creation of the United States further reshaped—but did not close down—the space of exchange for all women. More white and black women found their activities pushed into the margins, even as white men’s commercial exploits were celebrated as the spirit of the new nation. Meanwhile, the investments and profits of both white and Native women contributed to the further expansion of the United States into Native lands and a slave-labor economy. Yet even as all women’s business activities were ridiculed and ignored, female traders themselves continued to look for ways to turn the market to their profit. Today, as women in business find themselves limited by a glass ceiling and a great disparity in wealth between men and women, we might assume that markets themselves are intrinsically hostile to women’s participation. Yet it was not exchange itself but the historically contingent gendered structures that excluded—and welcomed—female traders in early America. Money has no gender.
Bush, Barbara. Slave Women in Caribbean Society, 1650–1838. Kingston: Heinemann Publishers (Caribbean), 1990.Find this resource:
Erickson, Amy Louise. “Coverture and Capitalism.” History Workshop Journal 59, no. 1 (Spring 2005): 1–16.Find this resource:
Hartigan-O’Connor, Ellen. The Ties That Buy: Women and Commerce in Revolutionary America. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009.Find this resource:
Hunt, Margaret R. The Middling Sort: Commerce, Gender, and the Family in England, 1680–1780. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996.Find this resource:
Ipsen, Pernille. Daughters of the Trade: Atlantic Slavers and Interracial Marriage on the Gold Coast. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015.Find this resource:
Lepler, Jessica M. The Many Panics of 1837: People, Politics, and the Creation of a Transatlantic Financial Crisis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013.Find this resource:
Luskey, Brian P., and Wendy A. Woloson, eds. Capitalism by Gaslight: Illuminating the Economy of Nineteenth-Century America. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015.Find this resource:
Olwell, Robert. “ ‘Loose, Idle and Disorderly: Slave Women in the Eighteenth-Century Charleston Marketplace.” In More Than Chattel, edited by David Barry Gaspar and Darlene Clark Hine, 97–110. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996.Find this resource:
Romney, Susanah Shaw. New Netherland Connections: Intimate Networks and Atlantic Ties in Seventeenth-Century America. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2014.Find this resource:
Sleeper-Smith, Susan. Indian Women and French Men: Rethinking Cultural Encounter in the Western Great Lakes. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2001.Find this resource:
Walker, Christine. “Pursuing Her Profits: Women in Jamaica, Atlantic Slavery and a Globalising Market, 1700–60.” Gender & History 26, no. 3 (November 2014): 478–501.Find this resource:
Wulf, Karin A. Not All Wives: Women of Colonial Philadelphia. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2000.Find this resource:
Zabin, Serena R. Dangerous Economies: Status and Commerce in Imperial New York. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009.Find this resource:
(1.) Charles Cobb, From Quarry to Cornfield: The Political Economy of Mississippian Hoe Production (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2000), 75.
(2.) Anne-Marie Cantwell and Diana diZerega Wall, “Engendering New Netherland: Implications for Interpreting Early Colonial Societies,” Archaeologies 7, no. 1 (April 2011): 121–53.
(3.) Jon Parmenter, “After the Mourning Wars: The Iroquois as Allies in Colonial North American Campaigns, 1676–1760,” The William and Mary Quarterly 64, no. 1 (2007): 39–76; Daniel K. Richter, “War and Culture: The Iroquois Experience,” The William and Mary Quarterly 40, no. 4 (1983): 528–59; James F. Brooks, Captives and Cousins: Slavery, Kinship, and Community in the Southwest Borderlands (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002), 10–19; Richard Godbeer, “Eroticizing the Middle Ground: Anglo-Indian Relations along the Eighteenth-Century Frontier,” in Sex, Love, Race: Crossing Boundaries in North American History, ed. Martha Hodes (New York: NYU Press, 1999), 91–111, 99; Juliana Barr, “From Captives to Slaves: Commodifying Indian Women in the Borderlands,” Journal of American History 92, no. 1 (June 2005): 19–46, 22.
(4.) George E. Brooks, Eurafricans in Western Africa: Commerce Social Status Gender and Religious Observance, 1st ed. (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2003), 51; Pernille Ipsen, Daughters of the Trade: Atlantic Slavers and Interracial Marriage on the Gold Coast (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015).
(5.) Susan Sleeper-Smith, ed., Rethinking the Fur Trade: Cultures of Exchange in an Atlantic World (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2009).
(6.) Kees-Jan Waterman and Jan Noel, “Not Confined to the Village Clearings: Indian Women in the Fur Trade in Colonial New York, 1695–1732,” New York History 94, no. 1–2 (Winter/Spring 2013): 40–58.
(7.) James Merrell, “The Other ‘Susquahannah Traders’: Women and Exchange on the Pennsylvania Frontier,” in Cultures and Identities in Colonial British America, ed. Robert Olwell and Alan Tully (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 2006), 197–219; Michelle LeMaster, Brothers Born of One Mother: British–Native American Relations in the Colonial Southeast (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2012), 127–36.
(8.) Susan Sleeper-Smith, Indian Women and French Men: Rethinking Cultural Encounter in the Western Great Lakes (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2001); Alison Duncan Hirsh, “Indians, Métis, and Euro-American Women on Multiple Frontiers,” in Friends and Enemies in Penn’s Woods: Indians, Colonists, and the Racial Construction of Pennsylvania, ed. William Pencak and Daniel K. Richter (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2004), 73. Also see Gunlög Maria Fur, A Nation of Women: Gender and Colonial Encounters among the Delaware Indians (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009), 103.
(9.) Susanah Shaw Romney, New Netherland Connections: Intimate Networks and Atlantic Ties in Seventeenth-Century America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2014), chap. 1.
(10.) Sleeper-Smith, Indian Women and French Men; LeMaster, Brothers Born of One Mother, chaps. 4, 5. Also see Kirsten Fischer, Suspect Relations: Sex, Race, and Resistance in Colonial North Carolina (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2002).
(11.) April Lee Hatfield, Atlantic Virginia: Intercolonial Relations in the Seventeenth Century (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004), 100–102.
(12.) Lois Green Carr and Lorena S. Walsh, “The Planter’s Wife: The Experience of White Women in Seventeenth-Century Maryland,” William and Mary Quarterly 34, no. 4 (1977): 542–47.
(13.) Margot Finn, “Women, Consumption and Coverture in England, c. 1760–1860,” Historical Journal 39, no. 3 (September 1996): 703–22.
(14.) William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England, 4 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1765–69), 1:430; Marylynn Salmon, Women and the Law of Property in Early America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1986).
(15.) Amy Louise Erickson, “Coverture and Capitalism,” History Workshop Journal 59, no. 1 (Spring 2005): 1–16.
(16.) Margaret R. Hunt, The Middling Sort: Commerce, Gender, and the Family in England, 1680–1780 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996), chap. 5, quotation 139.
(17.) David E. Narrett, Inheritance and Family Life in Colonial New York City (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1992); Susanah Shaw Romney, New Netherland Connections: Intimate Networks and Atlantic Ties in Seventeenth-Century America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2014), chap. 2, quotation 61.
(18.) Jean P. Jordan, “Women Merchants in Colonial New York,” New York History 58, no. 4 (October 1977): 412–39; Linda L. Sturtz, Within Her Power: Propertied Women in Colonial America (New York: Routledge, 2002).
(19.) Serena R. Zabin, Dangerous Economies: Status and Commerce in Imperial New York (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009).
(20.) Zabin, Dangerous Economies, chap. 2. For “litigated economy,” see Cornelia Hughes Dayton, Women Before the Bar: Gender, Law, and Society in Connecticut 1639–1789 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995), chap. 2.
(21.) Zabin, Dangerous Economies; Ellen Hartigan-O’Connor, The Ties That Buy: Women and Commerce in Revolutionary America (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009), chap. 3.
(22.) Sophie White, “ ‘A Baser Commerce’: Retailing, Class, and Gender in French Colonial New Orleans,” William and Mary Quarterly 63, no. 3 (July 2006): 517–50.
(23.) Patricia Cleary, “ ‘She Will Be in the Shop’: Women’s Sphere of Trade in Eighteenth-Century Philadelphia and New York,” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 119, no. 3 (July 1995): 181–202.
(24.) Barbara Bush, Slave Women in Caribbean Society, 1650–1838 (Kingston: Heinemann Publishers [Caribbean], 1990), 59; Hilary Beckles, Natural Rebels: A Social History of Enslaved Black Women in Barbados (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1989), 73; Robert Olwell, “Loose, Idle and Disorderly: Slave Women in the Eighteenth-Century Charleston Marketplace,” in More Than Chattel: Black Women and Slavery in the Americas, ed. David Barry Gaspar and Darlene Clark Hine (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996), 97–110.
(25.) Zabin, Dangerous Economies, chap. 3.
(26.) Zabin, Dangerous Economies, 57, 62–65; Patricia Cleary, Elizabeth Murray: A Woman’s Pursuit of Independence in Eighteenth-Century America (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2000); Olwell, “Loose, Idle, and Disorderly.”
(27.) The narrative is taken from William Kempe’s legal brief for the case against Lawrence, Arding, and Livingston; see H.R. pleadings, Pl.K. 501, repr. in Julius Goebel Jr. and T. Raymond Naughton, Law Enforcement in Colonial New York: A Study in Criminal Procedure (1664–1776) (New York: The Commonweath Fund, 1944), 786–91.
(28.) For populuxe goods, see Cissie Fairchilds, “The Production and Marketing of Populuxe Goods in Eighteenth-Century Paris,” in Consumption and the World of Goods, ed. John Brewer and Roy Porter (London: Routledge, 1993); Jan de Vries, The Industrious Revolution: Consumer Behavior and the Household Economy, 1650 to the Present (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008).
(29.) Hartigan-O’Connor, Ties That Buy, chap. 5; Cleary, “She Will be in the Shop.”
(30.) T. H. Breen, The Marketplace of Revolution: How Consumer Politics Shaped American Independence (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004). For gentility, see Cary Carson, “The Consumer Revolution in Colonial British America: Why Demand?,” in Of Consuming Interests: The Style of Life in the Eighteenth Century, ed. Cary Carson, Ronald Hoffman, and Peter J. Albert (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia for the United States Capital Historical Society, 1994); Ann Smart Martin, Buying into the World of Goods: Early Consumers in Backcountry Virginia (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008).
(31.) Kate Haulman, The Politics of Fashion in Eighteenth-Century America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2011).
(32.) Zabin, Dangerous Economies, 81; Hartigan-O’Connor, Ties That Buy.
(33.) Haulman, Politics of Fashion; Breen, Marketplace of Revolution; Barbara Clark Smith, “Food Rioters and the American Revolution,” William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd ser., 51, no. 1 (January 1994): 3–38; Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, “Political Protest and the World of Goods,” in The Oxford Handbook of the American Revolution, ed. Edward G. Gray and Jane Kamensky (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), 64–85; “Whereas this province labours under a heavy debt, incurred in the course of the late war: and the inhabitants by this means must be for some time subject to very burthensome taxes.” Boston: [s.n.], 1767. AB7.B6578.767w. Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:FHCL.HOUGH:10873406.
(34.) Patricia Cleary, Elizabeth Murray; Jordan, “Women Merchants.”
(36.) John Adams to James Sullivan, May 26, 1776, in Papers of John Adams, vol. 4, ed. Robert J. Taylor (Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 1979), 209–13. Linda K. Kerber, “The Paradox of Women’s Citizenship in the Early Republic: The Case of Martin vs. Massachusetts, 1805,” American Historical Review 97, no. 2 (April 1992): 349–78; Rosemarie Zagarri, Revolutionary Backlash: Women and Politics in the Early American Republic (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007).
(37.) Laurel A. Clark, “The Rights of a Florida Wife: Slavery, U.S. Expansion, and Married Women’s Property Law,” Journal of Women’s History 22, no. 4 (Winter 2010): 39–63.
(38.) Woody Holton, “Abigail Adams, Bond Speculator,” William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd ser., 64, no. 4 (October 2007): 821–38; Henry Charles Carey, The Credit System in France, Great Britain, and the United States (Philadelphia: Carey, Lea, & Blanchard, 1838), 83.
(39.) Royall Tyler, The Contrast: A Comedy in Five Acts (Philadelphia: Prichard & Hall, 1790), Act IV, Scene 2.
(40.) Hannah Farnham Sayer Lee, Three Experiments of Living (Boston: William S. Damrell, 1837), quoted in Jessica M. Lepler, The Many Panics of 1837: People, Politics, and the Creation of a Transatlantic Financial Crisis (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 78.
(41.) Lisa Norling, Captain Ahab Had a Wife: New England Women and the Whalefishery, 1720–1870 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2000), chap. 4; Jeanne Boydston, “The Woman Who Wasn’t There: Women’s Market Labor and the Transition to Capitalism in the United States,” Journal of the Early Republic 16, no. 2 (July 1996): 183–206.
(42.) Anne F. Hyde, Empires, Nations, and Families: A History of the North American West, 1800–1860 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2011).
(43.) Catherine Cangany, Frontier Seaport: Detroit’s Transformation into an Atlantic Entrepôt (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014), 18–22; Hyde, Empires, Nations, and Families.
(44.) Brian P. Luskey and Wendy A. Woloson, Capitalism by Gaslight: Illuminating the Economy of Nineteenth-Century America (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015).
(45.) Candice L. Harrison, “ ‘Free Trade and Hucksters’ Rights!’: Envisioning Economic Democracy in the Early Republic,” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 137 (2013): 147–77; Christine Stansell, City of Women: Sex and Class in New York, 1789–1860 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1987), 13–14; Seth Rockman, Scraping By: Wage Labor, Slavery and Survival in Early Baltimore (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009), 100–101, 127–29. For women’s participation in other economic activity besides trade, see Ellen Hartigan-O’Connor, “Abigail’s Accounts: Economy and Affection in the Early Republic,” Journal of Women’s History 17, no. 3 (2005): 35–58.
(46.) Philip D. Morgan, Slave Counterpoint: Black Culture in the Eighteenth-Century Chesapeake and Lowcountry (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998); Betty Wood, Women’s Work, Men’s Work: The Informal Slave Economies of Lowcountry Georgia (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1995).
(47.) Petition of Marie Perron Beaury and Joseph Guerineau to the Equity Court of Charleston District, South Carolina, December 23, 1813, in Records of the Equity Court, Race and Slavery Petitions Project, PAR #21381305.