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A Society of Patriotic Ladies at Edenton in North Carolina

Dawe, Philip __Attributed to ||Sayer, Robert __Publisher ||Bennett, John __Publisher
Place Made:
London Great Britain
Date Made:
ink on paper
HOA: 18″
WOA: 14″
Accession Number:
On October 25, 1774 a group of Edenton women led by Penelope (Padgett) Barker (1728-1796) pledged to boycott imported British tea and cloth in response to the Tea Act of 1774. News of their “tea party” reached London, where it was reported in the Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser of January 16, 1775.

This print, issued in London on March 25, 1775, presents a satirical view of that gathering. In the foreground a grotesque Penelope Barker presides over the signing of the compact, which reads:

“We the Ladys of Edenton do hereby solemnly Engage not to Conform to that Pernicious Custom of Drinking Tea… from England until such time that all Acts which tend to Enslave this our Native Country shall be Repealed.”

In an ironic turn, the inkwell is being held by an enslaved woman standing to Penelope’s right. In the background three ladies empty their tea caddies into bags held by men with lascivious looks. Another women is induced to sign by her lover. A neglected child sits beneath the table, eating cookies off the floor, while a dog leaves no doubt about its opinion on the tea party. In the background a pair of women drink punch directly from the bowl, a sly rejoinder to the eighteenth century saying “my wife will drink tea, but I will have punch.”

This print satisfied a desire among Britons for images depicting, in an often satirical way, the political crises unfolding in the American Colonies. It was issued as part of a set of five prints, identified by their plate numbers: The Bostonians in Distress; The Patriotic Barber of New York, or The Captain in the Suds; The Alternative of Williams-Burg; and A Society of Patriotic Ladies, at Edenton in North Carolina.

ATTRIBUTION: The print has been attributed to Philip Dawe (d. 1832) based on its similarity to “The Bostonians Paying the Excise-man, or Tarring and Feathering.”

DESCRIPTION: Print depicting ladies signing a document and pouring out bottles. There are 15 people in the room, one slave,one child siting on the floor beside a dog.

Credit Line:
Gift of Thomas A. Gray in memory of Ralph Philip Hanes, Jr.