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Homespun Virtue


In 1767, the colonies were pressurized by the English parliament to pay taxes to the treasury on goods like tea, molasses and paper. The colonist objected to such taxes as they claimed that since there is no representation of colonies in the Parliament. Colonists viewed the tax as Parliament’s effort to destroy their economy.

Nonimportation Movement: Men’s Perspective

In order to protest the taxes, colonists initiated a nonimportation movement in Boston boycotting all British goods. The colonists used to fine English goods, viewed the movement as a means to replace self-indulgence and luxury with selflessness and also to encourage local manufacturers and goods. The movement entailed the manufacturing of cloth locally; to wear homespun fabric instead of imported fine material. The leaders of the movement portrayed a direct link between the virtue of general masses and traditional values of industry and prudence.

The merchants selling imported English goods were publically scrutinized. The virtuous wore American homespun clothing.

The nonimportation movement turned out to have the potential to transmute the colonial households into revolutionary units. In the domestic scene, the men tried to establish a new political sense of aesthetic by inculcating women on sincere female public image. The female entity transformed into a battle ground of regal politics. The male writers rarely missed a chance to recommend homespun attire to the Daughters of Liberty. Hence, homespun clothing became a public virtue.

The male writers romanticized the sacrifice by depicting a society constituted of brave women who resisted the British oppression by saving their husband’s hard earned money. The Homespun Virtue appearance of a common woman daily showed political devotion to the movement, a symbol of change in the material culture.

Nonimportation Movement: Women’s Perspective

The women, however, did not share the vision of their men. They were prepared to practice public virtue as well as endorse the public good but not in the way these men envisioned. They felt that the proposed way of homespun virtue was not practical or economical. They did not approve that men maintained their ways such as drinking – a waste of time and money.


In conclusion, the nonimportation movement was among the many efforts that led way to the American independence. Although, the movement put women as central contributor in the politics but they were rather passive participants of the movement.