Major General Robert Howe was North Carolina's highest ranking officer during the American Revolution. Unfortunately as the leader of the southern department, he lost Florida and Georgia to the British and was relieved of command. The state of NC did thank him for his service and he was expected to take a place in the state General Assembly when he caught a fever and died.
James Iredell was a writer. Born in England and sent as a young man as a representative of the king to Edenton, Iredell first attained significant public attention when he, as a King’s servant, ironically promoted rebellion against the Crown. Although a reluctant revolutionary, he became a leading essayist in support of American independence. A dispute with the Crown over colonial court laws produced what was probably Iredell’s first political article and marked him as the literary leader of the North Carolina Whigs. His later treatise, “Principles of an American Whig,” predates and bears unmistakable consanguinity with the American Declaration of Independence. Similar to the Declaration, yet in less detail, “Principles” lists perceived Crown abuses against the colonies, including the Stamp Act, other duties and taxation, and the dispatch of British troops to Massachusetts. Democracy buds like flower.
Penelope Barker, the dynamic wife of Thomas Barker, Treasurer of the Province of North Carolina, organized a seemingly innocuous tea party (October 25, 1774, the year following the Boston Tea Party and induced 47 NC women.. to sign the following petition:
“The Provincial Deputies of North Carolina, having resolved not to drink any more tea, nor wear any more British cloth, many ladies of this province have determined to give memorable proof of their patriotism, and have accordingly entered into the following honourable and spirited association. I send it to you to shew your fair countrywomen, how zealously and faithfully, American ladies follow the laudable example of their husbands, and what opposition your matchless Ministers may expect to receive from a people thus firmly united against them.”
The petition continued: “We cannot be indifferent on any occasion that appears nearly to affect the peace and happiness of our country, and . . . it is a duty which we owe, not only to our near and dear connections, . . . but to ourselves. . . .”
The petition shocked the British and loyal colonists. London magazines labeled the Edenton women uncontrollable, and mezzotint caricatures abounded.
While visiting London, North Carolina Royalist Arthur Iredell was vexed after hearing the news of the tea party. In a letter to his brother James, (see above!) he sardonically asked:
“Pray are you becoming patriotic? . . . . Is there a Female Congress at Edenton, too?”
“If the Ladies, who have ever, since the Amazonian Era, been esteem[e]d the most formidable Enemies, if they, I say, should attack us, the most fatal consequence is to be dreaded. So dextrous in the handling of a dart, each wound they give is mortal . . . The more we try to conquer them, the more we are conquered.”
From England, in January 1775, Arthur Iredell wrote his brother, James Iredell, describing England’s reaction to the Edenton Tea Party... He sarcastically remarked, “The only security on our side … is the probability that there are but few places in America which possess so much female artillery as Edenton.”
During the 1770s, political resistance was common. But an organized women’s movement was not (common). So, the Edenton Tea Party shocked the Western world.
So, here is another example of the family squabble getting out of hand, James the patriot versus Arthur the loud-mouthed loyalist.
And you know, Penelope..up and at'em!!