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Lecture 7

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Rebecca Beausaert

October 29, 2013 HIST 2Q93 Lecture Outline: 1) Traditional Interpretations of Women and War 2) Canadian Women and the War of 1812 a. Profile: Mary Henry 3) American Women and the Revolutionary War (aka American War of Independence; aka American Revolution) a. Profile: Deborah Sampson 4) How Women’s Contributions are Remembered/Commemorated a. The Laura Secord Candy Company b. The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Traditional Interpretations of Women and War - Usually the male soldiers celebrated as protectors, defenders, heroes, showing patriotic duty, saving the helpless women and children - Notions of manliness overshadow women’s contributions in both the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 - Figures like Isaac Brock and George Washington we associate with war - War is dubbed a man’s conflict - Women are involved – directly and indirectly contribute to the fight - When women are mentioned, they are seen as participating from the sidelines – the private sphere of the home/home front - The war front and the home front are usually juxtaposed – seen as separate - Home front and battle front overlap - This is important to keep in mind when looking at women’s stories during the war - Women are overlooked because it is usually women who rememeber women’s contributions, and the stories from the war usually only come from the male’s perspective - When male and females write about women’s contributions they are told from the male’s perspective October 29, 2013 - Women’s contributions are distorted, romanticized (i.e. Secord), they are made into larger than life figures - The way women are contributing at home is not exciting, so it’s not as remembered War of 1812 - Occurred in Upper Canada - Colony of British established in 1791 - Composed of Empire Loyalists – 13 colonies in American Rev - In 1812 the population was about 75,000 people – less than half were women - Many First Nations people and freed/escaped slaves coming North from the States - War breaks out because British N. America (Canada) was seen as an impediment to the US expansion of its borders - 1812-14 - British win – nothing really changes - Significant conflict but few efforts have been made in the impact on the War of 1812 of women - When men are mentioned they are seen as heroes or victims - When examined, women were seen as relatives of soldiers, neighbours of soldiers, supporters of soldiers - In reality the women were much more - The war was affecting the colonies population – many American immigrants going back to the States, others going to Quebec or Maritimes - Soldiers arriving from Britain coming into Upper Canada - Aboriginal allies - Soldiers and aboriginals bringing women into the colonies - Naturally men joining the war affects women - The majority of able-bodied men in Upper Canada under the age of 40 actively serve in British army - When war declared, many female colonists fear an invasion, fear what will happen to their husbands, children, homes October 29, 2013 - Newspapers urge Upper Canadians against American encroachment on their land - Women are told the American invaders are terrible and will drive the colonists out and kill those who remain - Women are told that the American soldiers are reserving special treatment just for them - One newspaper told women that if Americans invaded, the weaker sex will be killed or raped – instilled fear in Upper Canadian women - Recruitment campaigns for enlistment made reference to women i.e. if men enlisted, women would find them irresistible in their uniform - Other campaigns said if they enlisted they would receive land grants – appealing to economics - Women often lead celebratory parades when army successful – boosted moral, kept people connection, showed support for soldiers - When men left homes and farms to join war, the full burden of caring for homestead was left to the women - During this period of early 19 C, Upper Canada largely frontier covered by wilderness, most families living in secluded settlements – harsh conditions - Even when men present, women’s duties were long, labourous, all manners of childcare, domestic chores, food prep and preservation, clothing making, gardens, agriculture, livestock - Men largely oversaw the agricultural part – plowing, sawing, harvesting, cutting wood - Women doubled their workload with traditional male duties on top of their other chores - We see a number of Upper Canadian women and their families suffering from food shortages - Some were lucky to have large families to help, but older boys would have joined war - Women’s survival was effected - Men in the militia received very little pay – not enough to survive on for family - Plus the price of goods sky rockets during the war - Inflation goes up, so women can’t afford to buy food and are having trouble growing their own food - A lot of families face severe economic difficulty October 29, 2013 - Unwritten rule that women and children who were left on homes and farms should not be harmed by American soldiers, all personal property left untouched – all because of chivalry and masculinity – masculine to leave families be - There were some atrocities committed against women - Abigail Stone was a resident of Gananoque - American attacked Gan - While she was trying to protect her property, she was shot in the hip - Soldier never took blame for it, and newspapers said perhaps it was accidental - Her story stands out because this was not the norm - Increasingly we see homes and farms being plundered for goods and being used for shelter for American soldiers - Usually happens along the borders - Women’s fears were coming true - American supplies dwindling – food, forage (food for livestock) - Homes in Upper Canada being burned by Americans - If word was spreading of an imminent attack by the Americans, women and children fled their homes and tried to stay at a nearby farm and usually returned a few days after the conflict - Sometimes entire towns were destroyed - When the town of Newark was burned in 1813, luckily a lot of women and children had left but returned to find everything gone and were forced to build shelters and spend the winter in root cellars - A group called Loyal and Patriotic Society was formed to help people who were struggling - Women appealed to this group and tried to recoup their losses - Women had trouble getting their husband’s military pension but had trouble getting it and had to turn to charity - Some women actually made money from the war - When men chose not to act because of age or disability, these families produced extra goods and produces to sell to soldiers - Other women made money through prostitution for soldiers October 29, 2013 - Less than 10% of the soldiers coming from Britain to Upper Canada had wives with them - Soldiers were encouraged to have casual sex - They were encouraged to come over by themselves without wives and children – didn’t want men to be held up or distracted - Women also benefitted by taking up work as domestic servants, cooks, seamstresses, nurses - Most popular job was to work as a laundress – they were in demand by the army and paid women well - Women who needed money and didn’t seek out additional work, would try and get married - A lot of war widows hastily remarrying - Was not considered socially unacceptable to remarry quickly without mourning - It reinforced women’s dependency on men - Women used the war as an opportunity to match their daughters with eligible British war leaders
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