New Men: Manliness in Early America

By Thomas A. Foster | Go to book overview

10
Of Eloquence “Manly”
and “Monstrous”
The Henpecked Husband in Revolutionary
Political Debate, 1774–1775

BENJAMIN H. IRVIN

the henpect man rides behind his Wife and lets her wear the
Spurs and govern the Reins.… He is but subordinate and min-
isterial to his Wife, who commands in chief, and he dares do
nothing without her Order.… He and she make up a Kind of
Hermaphrodite, a Monster.

—Samuel Butler, The Genuine Remains in Verse and
Prose of Mr. Samuel Butler
(1759)

When, in the fall of 1774, the Continental Congress published the Articles of Association, announcing a scheme of non-importation, nonexportation, and non-consumption to be enforced by extralegal committees of local patriots, many British North Americans felt betrayed. Colonists who bristled at the prospect of economic resistance—either because they feared that aggressive political posturing would widen the breach between the colonies and Great Britain or simply because they dreaded the baneful financial consequences of yet another boycott—had expected the Continental Congress to embrace more conciliatory measures, much as had the Stamp Act Congress ten years before. “The hopes of all moderate and considerate persons among us … were long fixed upon the general American Congress,” wrote the Reverend Thomas Bradbury Chandler, rector of St. John’s Church in Elizabethtown, New Jersey. “But the poor Americans,” he despondently concluded, “are doomed to disappointment.”1 Chandler and other “disappointed” Americans responded to news of Congress’s boycott by publishing a flurry of condemnatory pamphlets in the winter of 1774–75. During the sixth-month adjournment between the First Continental Congress and the Second, nearly two dozen of these oppositional tracts appeared in print.

-195-

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