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Making Roots

During the American Revolution, Penelope Barker and fifty other women in Edenton boycotted British goods to support the American colonies’ war effort. Their communal action has been called the first instance of female protest in America, and the incident made news in the colonies and Britain. A few months earlier, however, women in Wilmington led a low profile boycott.

Although women helped the colonies win independence from Britain in the 1780s, they had few political and legal rights in the new United States of America. In the ensuing decades, some prominent women began to advocate for women’s rights in their writings. By the 1840s, they gave birth to a women’s rights movement. The leaders of the women’s rights movement found inspiration in the Iroquois, whose women enjoyed more liberties and leadership opportunities than their white counterparts. The women's rights movement, which joined forces with the abolitionists during this era, was nearly exclusively led by Northern white women—with the notable exception of Sojourner Truth.

Major activities and events are listed chronologically. Each item is designated as either primarily national or North Carolina (US or NC).