Children, Spinsters, and Patriots

Babies died. Children died. Young men and women died. Life in 1630s early-colonial America called for hard work, endurance, and brought much heartache. Here in our high-tech automated world of designer medicines, we think of our ancestral grandfathers and sons from sunup to sundown hunting or toiling in fields while their wives and daughters churned butter, sewed clothes, and plucked chickens.

Did you ever imagine the whole family involved in making thread?

Do you know how this one activity helped the colonies win the Revolutionary War?

Long before the Revolutionary War, in 1640, the Court of Massachusetts order the growing of flax and also every boy and girl from age 6 or 7 years and older learn how to spin it into fine thread to be woven into homespun material for clothing.

The Court commissioned each family to spin a set amount of flax by the pound per year or be fined. Every member of the family had a role to play. The flax had to be grown, harvested, prepared (which is complicated process) combed, and carded before it is spun. Other colonies soon required the same of its people as Massachusetts. Homespun cloth held high value.

The art of spinning dates back to ancient times. Viewed to be an honorable work, young unmarried women who spun were called spinsters. After a time it became a legal title for any unmarried woman. Years later the spinning of wool helped the colonies win the Revolutionary War.

Antique Spinning Wheel by unknown

Independence from the hand of the English King during colonial times required self sufficiency. Instead of shipments from England, the colonists needed to rely on their own handmade items: shelter, food, drink, clothing, tools, and medicines. In preparation for the Revolutionary War in 1775, colonial homes with spinning wheels spun wool and made coats for the thousands of colonial soldiers preparing for winter battle.

Descriptions of how ancient Egyptians grew, prepared, and spun flax can be found in the Book of Proverbs, and it is precisely the method our colonial ancestors used to create homespun materials. This type of national self-resilience required every able member of the colonial family to do their part. Their homemade initiatives equaled their independence.

About Char of inkydancestudios

Writer by nature and for the soul. Educator for life. Artist for love. Passion: All things good and true.
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2 Responses to Children, Spinsters, and Patriots

  1. I LOVE this sort of historical information!! I never knew it, and it explains so much about the determination and resilience of our country’s founders. Hooray for research, and thanks so much for sharing!!!

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  2. Thank you, Patricia. I’ve found many interesting topics I’ll never use in my book. It’s a shame not to share with others who might be interested in our founding mothers and fathers. Much of what they lived with on a day to day basis is jaw dropping today. Who knew about the importance of straight pins? Who knew flasks for drinking ale had been made out of leather? Who knew how far a person could walk in one day? I glad I have a platform here to talk about these little known historical topics. I’m even happier someone finds them interesting besides me. These early Americans all had one thing in common–a personal initiative to create a better life. I appreciate your insight and cheering me on.

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