Live Meeting at Stone & Key Cellars 435 Doylestown Rd, Montgomeryville, PA 18936
We recommend that you get here before 6:30pm to order your food and drinks before the lecture. Program begins at 7:30pm.
Patriarchal forces of law, finance, and social custom restricted women’s rights and agency in revolutionary America. Yet women in this period exploited these confines, transforming constraints into vehicles of female empowerment. Through a close reading of thousands of legislative, judicial, and institutional pleas across seventy years of history in three urban centers, Jacqueline Beatty illustrates the ways in which women in the revolutionary era asserted their status as dependents, demanding the protections owed to them as the assumed subordinates of men. In so doing, they claimed various forms of aid and assistance, won divorce suits, and defended themselves and their female friends in the face of patriarchal assumptions about their powerlessness. Ultimately, women in the revolutionary era were able to advocate for themselves and express a relative degree of power not in spite of their dependent status, but because of it.
Their varying degrees of success in using these methods, however, was contingent on their race, class, and socio-economic status, and the degree to which their language and behavior conformed to assumptions of Anglo-American femininity. In Dependence thus exposes the central paradoxes inherent in American women’s social, legal, and economic positions of dependence in the Revolutionary era, complicating binary understandings of power and weakness, of agency and impotence, and of independence and dependence. Significantly, the American Revolution provided some women with the language and opportunities in which to claim old rights―the rights of dependents―in new ways. Most importantly, In Dependence shows how women’s coming to consciousness as rights-bearing individuals laid the groundwork for the activism and collective petitioning efforts of later generations of American feminists.
Book Purchase: To purchase this book please click on this link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1479812129
I am Assistant Professor of History at York College of Pennsylvania, where I teach courses in Early American, Women’s and Gender, and Public History. In the past, I have taught at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette as a Visiting Assistant Professor, and at George Mason University as an Adjunct Instructor and Graduate Teaching Assistant.
My book, In Dependence: Women and the Patriarchal State in Revolutionary America, I argue that many women in this period were able to achieve a more empowered role not in spite of their dependent status but because of it. They thus exposed the paradoxes of their legal and social subordination by using the very terms of their dependence to undermine the system that was meant to keep them in submission. My dissertation, on which this project is based, was a finalist for the 2017 SHEAR Manuscript Prize.
My other publications include “Privileged in the Patriarchy: How Charleston Wives Negotiated Financial Freedom in the Early Republic” (South Carolina Historical Magazine, July 2018) and “Complicated Allegiances: Women, Politics, and Property in Post-Occupation Charleston,” in Holly Mayer, ed., Women Waging War in the American Revolution (UVA Press, 2022).
My publicly-engaged work includes “Women’s Political Power in Early America” (C-SPAN’s Lectures in History Program, September 2022), public talks with York College of Pennsylvania and the York, PA chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and various contributions to the Revolutionary Spaces organization, including its “Tea Party Tonight!” program and consultation on its forthcoming exhibit, “The Humble Petitioner: Fighting for Rights in 18th Century America.”
I received my PhD in Early American and Women’s and Gender History from the Department of History and Art History at George Mason University in December 2016. I earned my MA in United States History and Women’s and Gender History from Villanova University in 2012, and my BA in History from Boston College in 2010.