The Politics of Fashion in Eighteenth-Century America (Gender and American Culture)


Lives on the Edge of the American Revolution.

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CULTURAL CONNECTIONS to FASHION: The Turn of the Century

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I had a professor who loved analyzing the role that fashion played in American and European history. This book definitely examines the impact of fashion on the politics of early America. I'm not sure Haulman is convincing, but she presents an interesting lens. One person found this helpful. This gave another impetus to the industry begun a decade before and a linen manufactory was established in Philadelphia much like that begun in Boston, employing poor women to produce domestic cloth.

The directions of fashion could change quickly according to the political current. The reconciliation following the repeal of the Stamp Act did not last.

Haulman continues the investigation of American responses to Acts of Parliament intended to regulate and raise revenue from the colonies. The Townsend Acts brought forward more calls for non-importation on the part of the merchants and non-consumption on the part of the people. This continued discussion is anchored with the introduction of John Dickinson and his galvanizing, Letters From a Pennsylvania Farmer. Dickinson provides a recognizable point of reference as a plainspoken Americans, plain in appearance — despite the fact that he was from a very wealthy and landed Quaker family.

Once again American manufacture was seen as a solution even though the boycotts met with some success. With the repeal of all duties except those on tea, boycotts were relinquished and consumerism returned full tilt. An abundance of goods and lower prices allowed even the lower classes to participate in the consumption of British goods, which created some confusion as fashion became less reliable as a means to assess status.

This fashion provides Haulman with the opportunity for one of the liveliest descriptions and discussions of style in this period, the build-up to revolution. Up to this point in the book, she has given ample examples of the impact of fashion upon the social and economic profile of the American colonies, but the idea of fashion as being a decisive factor in the struggle for political sovereignty is more debatable.

In formulating her argument Haulman focuses upon the city of Philadelphia as the major site for the culture wars that she claims as a factor in revolution. The chapter includes examples of how dress became even more critical as a means of reading people through their appearance, as it served as an indicator of political leanings. This incident also illustrates that the fears of patriot Philadelphians were not completely unreasonable.

The attraction of the women of Philadelphia to military uniforms, whether Continental or British, produced notice and anxiety. These sketches provide a background for the author to further assess gender power and influence as the American colonies moved through war into nationhood. The new nation faced many concerns, and Haulman contends that one was the appropriate look for a sovereign republic. What could distinguish them from British fashion? Then there was the question of the influence of their French allies.

The basic issues did not seem to alter — there were still questions of domestic consumption, social order and the national economy. Sign In or Create an Account. Close mobile search navigation Article navigation.

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View or edit your browsing history. Bibliography Includes bibliographical references and index. I really loved this book and use it regularly in course on material culture in America. Reassessing the Radical Enlightenment, ed. You do not currently have access to this article. Learn more about Amazon Prime.

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