American Women: The Ladies of Philadelphia in 1780


I have not shut mine ears to their demands,
Nor posted off their suits with slow delays.

During the long war which resulted in the Independence of the American Colonies, the women all over the land were warmly interested in the condition of the soldiers, and prompt to relieve their wants when suffering. There was, at times, a sad deficiency of wearing apparel; and many are the instances in which a noble sacrifice of ease and a liberal expenditure of time and strength, were made by the ladies that this comfort might be restored to the self-sacrificing soldiers.

In 1780, the ladies of Philadelphia city and county, learning that the soldiers were in great need of clothing, sold their jewelry and converted other trinkets into something more serviceable; collected by solicitation large sums of money; purchased the raw material, plied the needle “with all diligence;” and in a short time the aggregate amount of their contributions was $7,500.*

The number of shirts made by the ladies of Philadelphia during that patriotic movement, was twenty-two hundred! These were cut out at the house of Mrs. Sarah Bache, daughter of Dr. Franklin. This lady writing to a Mrs. Meredith, of Trenton, New Jersey, at the time, says, “I am happy to have it in my power to tell you that the sums given by the good women of Philadelphia for the benefit of the army, have been much greater than could be expected, and given with so much cheerfulness and so many blessings, that it was rather a pleasing than a painful task to call for them. I write to claim you as a Philadelphian, and shall think myself honored in your donation.”

*This sum was raised in and immediately around Philadelphia. The efforts of the ladies were not, however, limited to their own neighborhood. They addressed circulars to the adjoining counties and states, and the response of New Jersey and Maryland was truly generous.


Excerpted from Noble Deeds of American Women
(Patriotic Series for Boys and Girls)
Edited by J. Clement
With an Introduction by Mrs. L. H. Sigourney
BOSTON: Lee and Shepard, Publishers
Entered by Act of Congress, in the year of 1851,
by E. H. Derby and Co., in the Clerk’s Office of the Northern District of New York

Leave a Reply