My work analyzes the cultural performance of politics across generations and over time. I explore the ways Deborah Read Franklin and Sally Franklin Bache constructed and were constructed by the public resistance to the British. For both women, the Philadelphia community and Benjamin Franklin entailed complex, intertwined audiences for their theatricalities. In 1764 a fifty-five-year-old Deborah bravely defended the Franklin house when a mob raided it during the Stamp Act crisis. Putting on a courageous face to the outside world, she proved she could protect her domain. Yet Deborah alluded often to the security of her home, a place from which she became temporarily engaged in political matters but also a place to which she retreated from political strife. These were shifting strategic choices she made about her performances as a gendered subject, as a political actor in her own right, and as the wife of Benjamin Franklin. Sixteen years later, as the war continued to take a toll on the Continental Army, a thirty-seven-year-old Sally Bache and a group of elite women in Philadelphia constructed a theater of urban politics, spending the summer walking the city streets seeking monetary donations from rich and poor friends, neighbors, and strangers. The women had launched their campaign with the broadside "Sentiments of an American Woman," published first in the Pennsylvania Gazette and then in newspapers across the country. By proudly proclaiming her duty to the cause, Sally publicly and self-consciously fashioned herself as a Patriot. Between 1765 and 1780 the Franklins elder and younger experienced conflict, resistance, and resolution in Revolutionary Philadelphia. To differing degrees at separate times they engaged in a gendered intergenerational theater of identity politics.


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pp. 317-352
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