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“A society of patriotic ladies.”

Cheap prints depicting current events were in great demand in both England and the colonies. This 1775 British print presented a scene in Edenton, North Carolina. Fifty-one women signed a declaration in support of nonimportation, swearing not to drink tea or purchase other British imports. Boycotts of British goods became a widespread form of protest to the Townshend Duties, enacted in 1767 to tax goods such as paint, paper, lead, glass, and tea when they arrived in America. Abstaining from European products and fashions became a mark of patriotism, and merchants who violated nonimportation were subjected to public ridicule. Tarring and feathering was common, as were attacks on conspicuous symbols of wealth. As this print suggests, ridicule existed on both sides of the Atlantic. The artist treated the Edenton women with scorn, portraying them as ugly, impressionable, and neglectful of their children.

Source: Philip Dawe(?), A Society of Patriotic Ladies, at Edenton in North Carolina, mezzotint, 1775, 13 3/4 x 10 inches—Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.