Women in the American Revolutionary War

Sarah M. S. Pearsall

in The Oxford Handbook of the American Revolution

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780199746705
Published online December 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Women in the American Revolutionary War

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  • History
  • United States History
  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)
  • Military History


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This chapter examines the experiences of women during the American Revolution, focusing on how they affected the war and how the war affected them. Wartime violence made many women (and men) into victims and survivors; fear of violence is sometimes as potent as violence itself. At the same time, wartime destruction and economic inflation had an impact on women's lives and labors. Nevertheless, women were transformed from mere victims into agents in the war, battling demons of chaos, brutality, tyranny, and hunger. The chapter focuses on five periods and places: the first centers on New England in 1775–1776, the second is set in southern England in 1778, the third takes place in the country of the Six Nations in 1779, the fourth deals with Pennsylvania in 1780, and the fifth concentrates on the South in 1781–1782. These snapshots offer insights into the diversity of women's experiences, as well as the ways in which the war altered patterns of women's mobility and public participation.

Keywords: women; mobility; American Revolution; violence; New England; Six Nations; Pennsylvania; public participation; South; southern England

Article.  8697 words. 

Subjects: History ; United States History ; Early Modern History (1500 to 1700) ; Military History

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