Abstract

Abstract:

Whether concerned with the American Revolution's legacies or the gendering of economic life, historians tend to overlook women's economic experiences during the years of active military conflict. This article suggests that attention to gendered power within wartime practices revises understandings of the revolution and chronologies of the long eighteenth century. By analyzing the correspondence of seven middling and elite New England couples, it finds that, during the years that supposedly preceded the rise of companionate marriage, the economic dimensions of marriage became more, not less, pronounced. The upheaval of wartime heightened the importance of families, letter writing, and emotional language in moderating economic uncertainties. With the war under way and men leaving home for military and government posts, wives assumed enhanced responsibilities in financial matters. Redeploying older patterns of correspondence between business associates, spouses commingled emotional and practical language to make sense of their dual roles as romantic partners and economic collaborators. The American Revolution intensified existing features of eighteenth-century economic life, and ordinary people's wartime economic practices may have in turn destabilized hierarchical visions of marriage during the early republic.

Additional Information

ISSN
1933-7698
Print ISSN
0043-5597
Pages
pp. 697-728
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-28
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.