Brings together previously unpublished documents and interpretive essays to explore how women experienced and understood the American Revolution
Southern Women in Revolution offers readers a new approach to the social history of the American Revolution and a unique perspective on this period in southern women's history. Using ninety-eight petitions that women in North and South Carolina submitted to their state assemblies during or after the war, Cynthia A. Kierner examines southern women's wartime experiences and assesses their changing expectations for public and private life.
Between 1776 and 1800, southern women submitted hundreds of petitions to their state legislatures. Most sought compensation for losses incurred during the Revolution, and many included moving accounts of personal and economic hardships. To convey the diversity of women's experiences, Southern Women in Revolution includes petitions from Whigs and Tories, rich and poor, whites and African Americans. Suggesting that the public ideology of the American Revolution affected women's understanding of seemingly private personal relationships, the author also includes selections from women's earliest petitions for divorce, property rights, and the emancipation of slaves.
Kierner brings together documents that are critical and compelling sources for southern women's history. Collectively, these petitions constitute the largest body of women's writing about the American Revolution and its impact on civilian life. Divided into five chapters, each prefaced with a substantial interpretive essay, the book places the petitions in historical context, focusing on both the stories women told and the language they used when venturing into the public sphere to voice their concerns to their legislatures.
Cynthia A. Kierner is an associate professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where she teaches courses on colonial and revolutionary America and women's history. The author of Women's Place in the Early South: Gender and the Public Sphere, 1700–1835 and Traders and Gentlefolk: The Livingstons of New York, 1675–1790, Kierner is also the editor of Alcuin: A Dialogue, by Charles Brockden Brown.
"Kierner's informed discussion of various aspects of the lives led by women in the South during the Revolutionary War could stand alone, but it is the words of the women themselves that give her book a special distinction and make it a rare good read."—W. W. Abbot, University of Virginia
"It [the book] provides a broad array of fresh voices and experiences documenting women's struggles during the American Revolution. Kierner's essays introducing each section of documents are compact, clear discussions of the Revolution and the ways it impacted women."—Joan R. Gundersen, Elon College
"Kierner provides easy access to a rich array of Southern women¹s petitions that provide a first-hand look into Revolutionary era changes in gender roles, the political process, and the effects of war on those guarding the home front."—Mississippi Quarterly
"This is a well-researched volume, however, that provides some excellent insights about the experiences of some Revolutionary southern women."—Georgia Historical Quarterly
"Examining ninety-eight petitions submitted by women in North and South Carolina to their state assemblies during or after the American Revolution, Kierner reveals not only the diversity of the women who petitioned . . . but also the extent of their political engagement and their understanding of their relation to government."—American Literature
"This meticulously prepared volume brings to light a treasure trove of petitions from Revolutionary-era North and South Carolina, Virginia, and Georgia."—Journal of Southern History