Food rioters and the American Revolution - Barbara Clark Smith

The Boston Massacre during the American Revolution
The Boston Massacre during the American Revolution

On more than thirty occasions between 1776 and 1779, American men and women gathered in crowds to confront hoarding merchants, intimidate "unreasonable" storekeepers, and seize scarce commodities ranging from sugar to tea to bread. A good-sized minority of the crowds we know about consisted largely of women; a few others may have included men and women alike. Each crowd voiced specific local grievances, but it is clear that their participants sometimes knew of actions elsewhere and viewed each episode as part of a wider drama.

Submitted by mintru on January 24, 2012

On more than thirty occasions between 1776 and 1779, American men and women gathered in crowds to confront hoarding merchants, intimidate "unreasonable" storekeepers, and seize scarce commodities ranging from sugar to tea to bread. (See Appendix.) Such food or price riots occurred in at least five northern states - New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut as well as in Maryland and, according to one report, Virginia. Some towns, such as East Hartford, Connecticut, and Beverly, Massachusetts, seem to have witnessed only one incident; others, including Boston and Philadelphia, experienced deep, sustained conflict. A good-sized minority of the crowds we know about consisted largely of women; a few others may have included men and women alike. Whatever their composition, most crowds objected to “exorbitant” prices that shopkeepers demanded for their goods or to merchants' practice of withholding commodities from the market altogether. Each crowd voiced specific local grievances, but it is clear that their participants sometimes knew of actions elsewhere and viewed each episode as part of a wider drama.[1]

These riots took place at the intersection of several streams of historical experience. First, they represent one moment in the long-term development of capitalist social relationships in America, particularly in the northern colonies and states.[2] Promoting the availability of foodstuffs, pressing farmers and merchants to sell rather than withhold their wares, rioters acted on behalf of a plentiful market, although not, it must be stressed, on behalf of a free one.[3] Their actions map an immediate experience of economic distress and articulate popular ideas about economic exchange, its meaning, and the crucial issues of who might claim jurisdiction over it and through what political forms.

The forms themselves compose a second interpretive context, as elements of "the common people's politics" in England and America.[4] In the prominence of women, rioters' adoption of the symbols of authority, and their efforts to pay victims a "reasonable price," America's Revolutionary price riots followed Old World precedents. These riots, which were far more numerous than historians have realized, testify to colonists' access to the repertoire of the English plebeian public, to lines of information and identity that linked ordinary people on either side of the Atlantic. They therefore challenge interpretations that place eighteenth-century crowds solely in a vertical framework defined by elite ideology and accommodation. By contesting high prices and withholding, Americans of lower and middling status often stood against their better-off neighbors; in doing so they laid claim to the powers and rites of Englishmen.[5]

Third, women's prominence in many crowds of the 1770s illuminates aspects of the eighteenth century's construction of gender. Excluded from the vote, unqualified to serve as jurors at courts of law, free women-together with servants, slaves, children, and propertyless men-were politically disabled by their dependent status. Yet women conducted nearly one-third of the riots. Here, then, were possibilities for political action that resistance and revolution opened for women, not as republican wives or mothers but as social and economic actors within household, neighborhood, and marketplace. Food riots have a history in this context, too-in women's substantive, routine participation, not strictly "private" or "public" in nature, in the life of their communities.[6]

Finally, the Revolutionary War, with its dislocations of supply and redoubling of demand, reliance on depreciating paper currency, and rampant inflation, formed the necessary economic context for these riots' occurrence.[7] Beyond that, crowd members and newspaper writers who noted their activities expressed the conviction that a fundamental relationship existed between these incidents and the patriot cause. In a variety of ways, rioters and their allies claimed that confronting merchants in their shops was a patriotic action, much like facing redcoats on the battlefield. As a result, these riots offer a new and decidedly popular angle of vision on Americans' movement for independence from Great Britain and for liberty at home. This essay suggests a new reading of the resistance movement, tracing its relationship to the local world of exchange and marketplace ethics. Most important, it contends that some patriot men and women's resistance to Britain took shape as they negotiated experiences within local networks of exchange, on the one hand, and within the broad Atlantic market on the other. This account of popular participation in the war effort explores one context within which the ideas disseminated by patriot writers and spokesmen in pamphlets, sermons, and the like were received and interpreted.

Wrapped in blankets "like Indians" and with their faces blacked, men gathered in the streets of Longmeadow, Massachusetts, in July 1776 to express "uneasiness with those that trade in rum, molasses, & Sugar, &c." The crowd delivered a written ultimatum to Jonathan and Hezekiah Hale, retailers who had taken advantage of embargo and warfare to raise prices on their increasingly scarce goods: Sirs: it is a matter of great grief that you Should give us cause to call upon you in this uncommon way.... We find you guilty of very wrong behaviour in selling at extravagant prices, particularly West India goods. This conduct plainly tends to undervalue paper Currency which is very detrimental to the Liberties of America We therefore as your offended Brethren demand satisfaction of you the offender by a confession for your past conduct and a Thorough reformation for time to Come.

To prevent misunderstanding, the crowd specified what it considered appropriate prices for rum and molasses. Given an hour to think matters over, the Hales lowered their prices to the levels decreed.[8] Less swayed by popular opinion was Samuel Colton, who kept shop in a long ell that ran along the back of his Longmeadow mansion. When Colton refused the crowd's terms, it confiscated his supply of West Indian imports and hid them in a nearby barn. In response, wrote local minister Stephen Williams, "Marchant" Colton "made a prayer in publick"-appar-ently the sort of confession and pledge to reform that townspeople had demanded from the Hales. Afterwards, Colton's goods were returned to him for retail, but within a few weeks he raised prices again. Impatient with "moderate measures," people broke into Colton's locked store and carried away his rum, sugar, molasses, and salt. Colton later complained that the crowd rampaged through the house as well, "ransacking it from top to bottom," causing "great Fear and Terr'r." Williams, although sympathetic to the merchant, reported no destruction or indiscriminate looting. The crowd delivered the goods to the town clerk, who sold them at "reasonable" prices. Eventually, crowd leaders offered the proceeds of the sales to Colton and, when he refused them, took along witnesses and left the money on a table in his house.[9]

A month later, a different commodity created contention in New York. In Fishkill, a group of women assembled to confront New York City alderman Jacobus Lefferts, who had sent "a large quantity of tea" north to Fishkill, intending, as the Constitutional Gazette had it, to "make a prey of the friends of the United States by asking a most exorbitant price for the same." When three gentlemen passed by the house where the women were gathered, some of them went out to ask for assistance in their project. When the men refused, the women took matters into their own hands. They confined the three under guard, chose a "committee of ladies" to lead, and marched to Lefferts's store. The alderman declined to part with tea for gs. per pound, so the women told him they would pay "the continental price"-6s. per pound, as recently authorized by the Continental Congress. In the event, they apparently paid Lefferts nothing; instead, they appointed a "clerk" and a "weigher," took tea from two boxes, and measured it out into pounds to sell at 6s. each. The women in charge, reported the newspaper, planned to send the proceeds from their sale to the Revolutionary county committees.

Whether supporting local committeemen, sustaining the buying power of Continental money, or dressing "like Indians" in reminiscence of the crowd that had thrown tea into Boston harbor in 1773, these food rioters situated themselves as participants in the patriot cause. Writers in the public press elaborated on the rioters' point of view and denounced farmers who withheld produce from the market and traders who monopolized available goods and jacked up prices. These were more than common grievances, "A Farmer" explained: "This is the very same oppression that we complain of Great Britain!"[11] Historians have treated price riots and price legislation of the era as responses to wartime conditions, as expedients grasped when new economic strains and opportunities revealed cracks in some people's faith in revolutionary governments and their willingness to forgo private gain for the public good. Deeper analysis traces the riots back into the origins of resistance and finds them embedded in the heart of the patriot cause.[12]

It is far from obvious how a merchant's engrossing of salt, tea, or grain was comparable to Parliament's efforts to levy and enforce customs duties, to tax the colonists, or to quarter troops among them. Yet A Farmer was not alone in his arguments and outlook, and food rioters, writers who applauded their actions, and neighbors who stayed at home but nonetheless approved all testify to a different interpretation. In the eighteenth century, A Farmer reminds us, "oppression" was not merely an economic or a political calamity but inextricably both.[13] In an age when people expected governments to protect the poor from privation and the middling sort from inequity, undue economic burdens signaled government failure if not corruption. Similarly, when theorists presumed that self-interest pressed men to aggrandize political power, no neat line distinguished the economic burdens from the political ones under which the people of England and its colonies had sometimes suffered and arguably might suffer again. In the writings of Real Whigs and others, political oppression and economic oppression each implied the other; few thought it possible to disentangle them.[14]

For many colonists, experiences closer to home confirmed the inter-penetration of economic and political matters. Many in the rural north produced primarily for household and neighborhood, routinely swapped labor, tools, manufactures, and produce, and lived within elaborate net-works of local indebtedness. Such households accordingly understood economic dealings within social and ethical frames. They dealt with brethren, kin, and neighbors-people they might or might not hold particularly dear but with whom they expected to go on dealing over and over again. Exchange in this context was bounded, known, and susceptible to widely shared local ideas about what was customary and fair. Thus it was plausible for moralists to argue that exchange should not bring profit at another's expense but should be, in one minister's phrase, "mutually advantageous."[15] Violating expectations of mutuality among neighbors may well have appeared oppressive, in part because it required a position of advantage to violate them with impunity. For most inhabitants of a locality, maintaining a reputation for probity and fairness mattered; those who outraged their neighbors' ideas of equity might face private admonition from clergy or other notables or feel pressure to submit to the judgment of three respected local men. Such institutions helped some Americans translate ideals for fair dealing into assumed and even ordinary practice. One Delaware farmer used a revealing shorthand to denote the numerous exchanges carried on between two families: the households "neighboured."[16] Narrow economic terms do not adequately describe their transactions.

Yet colonial America boasted bustling seaports, swift-sailing merchant vessels, and fashionable merchandise from London and beyond. City populations thrived on trade and suffered during its periodic stagnation. In the countryside, farmers produced for European or West Indian markets, and many country people welcomed the imported goods that filled store-keepers' shelves. Along with local exchange, most free colonists also bought and sold in wider markets, participating to one degree or another in a new calculus that included distant markets and relations of credit, new practices of debt settlement, and changing legal forms. Colonists operated within the market and outside it; their economy was, as Allan Kulikoff has stressed, "transitional."[17]

In geographic terms, transition meant the existence of central places in the landscape-from ports rimming the Atlantic, to second-rank commercial towns and market centers, to country stores, taverns, fairs, and crossroads meeting places. If we lay such a map over the countryside, we see boldly marked centers with lines radiating outward, paths created by lines of credit and return, by peddlers' circuits, by the flow of cloth, ceramics, and hardware to farm villages and the flow of rye, flaxseed, and lumber back to warehouses and wharves.[18]

Yet this view would be partial and in some respects misleading. Engagement with the Atlantic market proceeded unevenly within any one community. We might imagine American society in transition along socioeconomic lines as well as geographic ones. Thus, in many towns and seaports, however embedded in "the market," common people relied on the assize of bread, depended on official activity to secure foodstuffs in times of dearth, and openly defended traditional regulations. In Boston, the city most vulnerable to grain shortages, common people negotiated with superiors through a series of food riots in the 1710s and 1720S, securing legislation that limited exports and a public granary that would buy and sell at cost. Elsewhere, too, commercialization increased social inequality, strained relations among different ranks, and generated demand for customary regulations. Middling and even well-to-do inhabitants sometimes supported such regulation as essential to social order. Every-where, some inhabitants welcomed the market's opportunities while others resisted its incursion.[19]

Moreover, changes in market participation affected women and men unevenly. We know relatively little about the effects of competitive commodity and labor markets on women's lives.[20] Some colonial commentators fastened on one conspicuous development: The growing avail-ability of some imported goods reframed women's roles more obviously than men's. First in cities, then on farms, store-bought fabrics relieved women and children from the time-consuming work of spinning wool or linen. In what began to appear as "leisure," some women accordingly took on new tasks: shopping for fabrics, dealing with retailers, and mastering the requirements of fashion and social innovations such as tea parties, at which fashion information might be exchanged. Consumption became associated with females, who were then blamed for household extravagance and debt-hence doubly identified with dependence. Critics believed them more susceptible than men to the allurements of the fashionable marketplace, less capable of the public virtue required for civic action. Such aspersions were not new, but in these respects eighteenth-century changes exacerbated the fault lines of gender.[21]

Finally, the transitional nature of northern society appeared in the consciousness and practices of individuals. A farmer or mechanic might take part in both local and distant exchange, swapping labor for a neighbour's produce or meat, supplying potash or lumber to a nearby store-keeper, and purchasing rum manufactured in the West Indies or cloth imported from England. If we imagine some colonists en route from one to another pattern of thought and activity, others struck a balance, joining market transactions and local ones. As Christopher Clark has noted, new behaviors sometimes facilitated old goals: parents might enter the market to purchase land in order to insulate their children from labor and commodity markets. Moreover, market participation had varying results: after all, a farmer's growing vulnerability to the price mechanism of the Atlantic market might make neighborhood ideals more, not less, precious standards for local dealings.[22] If we are to map the northern colonies, then, we must record the various and often contesting forces that existed within market towns and outlying villages alike and unevenly touched men and women, the poor and the well-to-do. We need to attend not only to the capacity of market centers to disseminate commercial practices and ideas but to the ways commercial growth actively supported the vitality of traditional or customary constraints. Moreover, we must recognize towns distant from such centers as creative sites where practices of local ex-change engaged inhabitants of various ranks and interests and generated influential ideals of neighboring.

Intrinsic to this state of contrast and change was a particular wariness about the possibilities of "oppression." More than any other factor, the evident and increasing inequality felt in seaports and countryside fed the alarm that Americans' felt at midcentury; tension pervaded the visible juxtaposition of one person's advantages in the market with others' dispossession and occasional acute need.[23] That neighbors might sometimes so differ in their experience of the market-in accessibility and opportunity-strained the bonds of mutuality. As colonists acquired a wider circle of reference, they hedged their accountability to local standards and opinion. Equally, and at the same time, the wherewithal and the forms available to resist oppression also came from this transitional moment. Americans' continued engagement in local networks and the practices of neighboring provided a referential experience against which to define oppression, an alternative ground on which to stand and from which to act. The vitality of those forms became dramatically apparent in the mid-1760s, when Britain's colonial policies raised vital issues about the fairness of economic exchange. With new regulations and taxes and strict measures for their enforcement, Parliament proposed unilaterally to alter the terms of the Atlantic trade and claimed jurisdiction over a host of colonial market transactions. As a result, colonists encountered stamp officers, customs commissioners, and other royal appointees who patently sought to line their pockets from Americans' market participation. One crowd orator in Connecticut notably condemned stamp officers for "oppress[ing] the poor."[24] They and the Parliamentary regulations they enforced would redouble the disadvantages that many already associated with market participation. British policies underscored colonists' vulnerability to oppression, creating the conviction that indebtedness, even engagement in British trade itself, eroded a precious independence.

To regain that independence, many Americans withdrew from the Atlantic market. Faced with the Sugar Act, Stamp Act, Townshend Acts, and Coercive Acts, colonists joined together in nonimportation, nonconsumption pacts, eschewing imports and banning occasions that required or promoted their use.[25] Discontinuing trade might press Parliament to repeal the offensive measures; at the same time, discontinuing imports would reshape relationships within American society.[26] Colonists would re-engage in local networks of production and exchange and embrace the values that inhered therein. Elite Americans would abandon genteel imports in order to patronize local artisans; countrywomen would stay home from the store to produce homespun for their households and possibly for urban consumers. Everyone would put aside profit in a common sacrifice: neither merchants nor mechanics would raise prices to reap a windfall from the shortages that nonimportation would cause. "Prices" and "patriotism" became linked at this moment, then, in the trade boycotts of 1764 through 1775, in a resistance movement that insisted on the political significance of economic and cultural activity, broadly considered. For patriots these pacts were not mere expedients but "solemn leagues and covenants" or "associations"-ways of relating to neighbors and formulating community. By 1774, when the Continental Congress created its boycott-the Association-patriotism was clearly defined on these premises: a patriot did not import, consume, or raise prices on goods and produce on hand.[27]

Equally important, the resistance movement relied heavily upon the political participation of ordinary men and women.[28] Self-appointed groups and individuals policed early nonconsumption, nonimportation pacts. Patriots admonished and cajoled importers and consumers; crowds threatened and sometimes punished those who imported, retailed, or purchased banned commodities. When locally elected committees took up enforcement, committeemen continued to depend on popular surveil-lance to detect and suppress violations of boycotts. Not infrequently, crowds attended committee meetings, enforced committee desires, or even usurped committee prerogatives.[29] If one's capacity to fend off oppression derived from a certain independence from the Atlantic market, it therefore entailed dependence on local community forms, within which neighbors were held mutually accountable. Resistance required people to realign themselves vis-a-vis the Atlantic market, on the one hand, and the world of local exchange on the other.

These being the values and commitments of the resistance movement, it was entirely plausible for contemporaries to believe that food riots held a central place within that movement. Indeed, many Americans readily assumed the acceptability of such actions. At the outset of the war, when prices of West Indian goods rose quickly and when towns and counties throughout the colonies mobilized to enforce the Association, riots took place in both rural and urban settings. Members of the crowd that attacked Colton's store in 1776 hailed from agricultural villages such as Enfield, Connecticut, and Wilbraham and Palmer, Massachusetts, as well as from Longmeadow. Similarly, people "from different parts of the country" created an uproar in Kingston, New York, in November of that year, breaking into stores and warehouses and seizing tea.[30] In rural Dutchess County, exiles from occupied New York City forcibly stopped outgoing wagons in search of foodstuffs.[31] On several occasions, farmers from various Maryland counties seized quantities of salt.[32] Disorders threatened in Albany in 1775; riots were feared in Salem and broke out in New York City in 1776; but in these years, at least, they were by no means a strictly urban phenomenon.[33]

Participants in crowds were not limited to a single socioeconomic class. The leaders of the Colton crowd were propertied citizens-a church deacon, a well-off Colton in-law-who held positions of responsibility in Springfield and Longmeadow. Slim surviving evidence about the identity of the rank and file suggests that, in this case, crowd members were actually more likely to possess property than were the average male inhabitants of their towns.[34] Elsewhere, too, it was not solely the impoverished and inarticulate who acted. Among the raiders of Lefferts's Fishkill store, the newspaper reported, were Mrs. Lefferts's relatives-not necessarily persons of wealth or prominence but presumably not at the bottom of the social and economic ladder either.[35] Maryland rioters were "men of reputation" as well as of "good moral character."[36] Even those who complained about these crowds rarely denounced the class nature of the endeavor. In an age when it was common to dismiss mobs of which one disapproved as composed of "negroes and boys," no one seems to have reacted to food rioters in that way. In most places, reports leave the social composition of the crowds uncertain. Rioters were simply "inhabitants," or "townspeople," or "the people." Although it is unlikely that members of the elite frequently took part-their presence would surely have drawn comment-middling farmers, artisans, and (on one occasion at least) even storekeepers felt moved to take marketing into their own hands when faced with withholding, price gouging, and similar practices that offended their moral or patriotic sensibilities.[37]

At the same time, there were almost certainly crowds composed largely of the lower sorts. A masked and costumed figure known as "Joyce, Jr."-the symbolic descendant of the Cornet George Joyce who had captured King Charles I-led a crowd in the Boston streets in 1777. The role of Joyce, Jr., was reportedly played by John Winthrop, Boston merchant and member of the town's Committee of Correspondence, Safety, and Inspection, comprising its leading patriots. The "concourse ... Of 500" who accompanied him was most likely drawn from the ranks of the city's petty artisans, apprentices, and laborers, the classes who had appeared with Joyce when he had agitated against "Tories" before the war.[38] More common were lower-class crowds unaccompanied by any representative of the elite. Those who took part in the "quarrel for bread" at bakeries in Salem and Marblehead, Massachusetts, and those who joined the "scramble" for coffee at Salem wharf in 1777 were presumably drawn from lower classes.[39] The 900 who gathered in Boston's North End in late 1777 were most likely artisans, mariners, and laborers who lived in that increasingly impoverished neighborhood, as were the 500 who set out to besiege monopolist merchant Jonathan Amory the next day.[40] Sailors reportedly played a major part in battling French soldiers for bread in Boston in 1778, and many members of the Philadelphia crowds of 1779, described as "the rabble" and "the lower sorts," were unquestionably plebeian.[41]

As this sketch suggests, the nature of crowds changed over time. In the later years of the war, price riots became more urban and, correspondingly, more expressive of the beliefs and grievances of the cities' lower classes. This shift was natural enough. In the early war years, prices for imports rose more quickly than prices for domestic products. Farmers whose products bought less rum or sugar, cloth or hardware than was customary and who suspected rural storekeepers of making matters worse by seeking inordinate profits demonstrated their familiarity with tradi-tional forms of the food riot. By the late 1770s, farm prices outstripped imports, and economic distress and food riots both concentrated more heavily in the cities.[42]

That same shift in location also reflected a narrowing of food rioters' social and political base, while a concomitant shift occurred in the ways crowds related to Revolutionary authorities. What may have been the first intimation of a food riot, in 1775, exposed the possibility of conflict between inhabitants and local Revolutionary officials. Merchants were breaking the price equity provisions of the Association, claimed a petition of Albany inhabitants: "We humbly beg of the Committee for Redress and insist to have an answer in twenty four Hours; and if not answered in that time we shall look upon it that you will not Consider our oppression; and if we find that you will not Vindicate our doleful Circumstance, we will without doubt be obliged to remove these ruinous Circumstances our-selves."[43] The Longmeadow crowd bypassed the local committee, which had exculpated Colton from an earlier charge of price gouging. The Fishkill women donated money from tea sales to their county committee, but the Kingston committee shortly found itself in a very different relationship to local crowds. Women surrounded the committee chamber, the chairman reported, threatening that, unless the committee give them tea, "their husbands and sons shall fight no more." The New York Provincial Congress acknowledged its helplessness and lamely urged Kingston committeemen to try to keep the peace." Within a few months, however, chairman Johannes Sleight had to appeal to central authorities a second time. Kingston inhabitants were "daily alarmed," he said, "and their streets filled with mobs from different parts of the country, breaking of doors, and committing of outrages," all because of "the misfortune of having that detestable article called tea, stored there."[45] Committees could be the beneficiaries of crowds, but when they were laggard in their duties or when they themselves withheld goods from the market for army use, they could find themselves targets instead.

Meanwhile in New York, crowds compelled local committees to intervene in the marketing of tea. In October 1776, the provincial congress considered the problem of withholding by New York City tea dealers, whose "unjustifiable and mercenary practices . . . hath in many instances brought upon them the resentment of the people, and many riotous proceedings have thereby been occasioned." Although the city itself was in British hands, the congress ordered local committees elsewhere to seize stocks of tea over twenty-five pounds and to appoint agents to sell it at a set price, pocket a portion of the proceeds for their trouble, and return the rest to the owners. To ensure adequate distribution of the tea, sellers set limits: only twelve pounds to any one person or family. By mandating committee intervention the congress hoped to put an end to riots as well as to curb merchants' extortion.[46]

By the end of 1776, then, crowds had supported, threatened, and supplanted committees as well as, on occasion, roused lethargic committeemen into action. In food riots, Americans negotiated with local patriot leaders over the enforcement of patriotism. Not surprisingly, members of committees, state governments, and the Continental Congress were not completely happy with such crowds. It was true that rioters often enforced resolves of these official bodies. A Massachusetts crowd, for example, came to "the Assistance and rescue" of the committees of Cambridge, Watertown, and Newton as they struggled to block the exportation of goods. When the Continental Congress and the states issued paper money to finance the war, moreover, those bodies and the war effort itself came to rely on the buying power of the bills. It soon became clear that some tories actively worked to depreciate patriot bills; to many, it followed logically that all depreciators thereby declared themselves enemies of the American cause. Price gougers indisputably sought personal gain at their neighbors' expense, and this at a time when enlisting soldiers and their families were becoming dependent on monetary wages, newly vulnerable to inflation. One Maryland crowd that seized salt included farmers "disaffected" from the cause; another, composed of men of "respectable character" and patriotic zeal, was more typical. In the vast majority of cases, charges of toryism, if any, fell on the monopolizers rather than crowds.[47]

Late in 1776, leaders in the New England states came under stiff pressure from their constituents to enforce the price equity clauses of the Association and support the buying power of paper money.[48] Continental bills were pouring into the region, the site of early warfare. Worried about the effects of depreciation, all four New England states enacted legislation that made paper legal tender in private and public transactions, set price ceilings for a host of domestic and imported goods and labor, and out-lawed withholding from the market. With these laws, state leaders acknowledged their continued dependence on a participatory and even intrusive committee politics. They did not call for crowds to take to the streets, stores, marketplaces, or wharves. People were to report violations to committeemen or other civil officers, and even committees were expected to prosecute violators through the courts rather than act through extralegal forms. Still, as Elbridge Gerry recorded, price control policies depended on widespread popular vigilance: "The Execution of such laws are undoubtedly difficult but it being the Interest of such multitudes to assist their operations, the Refractory will undoubtedly be diligently watched."[49]

The success of these laws in controlling inflation and preventing mob action depended on local committees' willingness to use strong measures of enforcement. Despite the laws' references to legal prosecutions, in practice people assumed that committees should continue to publish violators' names and that the public should cut off trade with monopolists and hoarders, just as they had with importers, tea drinkers, and other transgressors. Americans continued to prefer their own stringent standards for equity and their own remedies for inequity rather than to accept standards or punishments set by courts or prosecuting officials. Many apparently doubted that the courts would mete out justice to popular satisfaction.

In Salem, Cotton Tufts reported, committeemen proved most doubters wrong, for they had "thrown open the Mercantile Stores and obliged the owners to an Observance of the Acts."[50] The committee was not strict enough for everyone in the city: in July a mob took to the streets demanding sugar and forcing stores open again, yet for the most part committee vigilance preempted crowd action.[51] In contrast, the merchants who sat on Boston's committee hesitated to move forcefully against offenders; as a result, they found themselves caught between many of their fellows' reluctance to abide by price ceilings voluntarily and the popular distress that followed when country suppliers, unable to purchase rum, sugar, coffee, tea, and other items at a set price, stopped bringing produce to the city.[52] As early as March 1777, the town meeting acknowledged the inactivity of its committee by appointing a supplementary body composed of thirty-six men "not in trade."[53] Bostonians urged those appointed to act against violators not through the courts but through the press and the town meeting. As supplies of grain and produce grew scarce, the town meeting bypassed committeemen altogether, calling town merchants publicly to declare their holdings of flour and to abide by price ceilings and marketing laws. These measures may have brought temporary relief, yet within a month bakers were apportioning bread one loaf to the house-hold.[54] As shortages grew worse, tensions mounted.

On April 19, committeeman John Winthrop made his appearance as Joyce, Jr., and supervised an orderly demonstration by some 500 Bostonians. The crowd seized five monopolizing "Tories," placed them in a cart and, in a symbolic hanging, hauled them out of town past the gallows on Roxbury neck, where they "timpd up" the cart, dumped out the men, and warned them never to return to Boston. That night, handbills signed "Joice Junior" appeared in the streets of Boston advising monopolists to begin selling. Winthrop's crew thus pressured town traders to retail at stipulated prices while channeling popular resentment away from the direct seizure of property and into more symbolic forms of action. As a merchant and patriot committee member, Winthrop may have tried to act as a moderating force, hewing a middle course between the city's lower classes and its merchants.[55]

If Winthrop's crowd deflected others from breaking into stores and directly seizing goods, though, it did so only through an assault, however symbolic, on people. Perhaps it is significant that Winthrop himself acted implicitly but not officially on behalf of the town's committee; indeed, as committeemen had no doubt anticipated, the radicalism of the crowd caused consternation among many Bostonians. Merchant Isaac Smith expressed sympathy for one of the crowd's victims: "To be seized when seting down to breakfast and ludgd. into a Cart with his wife and Children hanging round him, not knowing but what he was a going to the Gallows, must be shocking to any One that has the sparks of humanity in them." What worried Smith was the irregularity of the proceedings, the impudence of the crowd in banishing the men "without even the shadow of an Accu[s]ation." He held no brief for real tories, he assured his correspondent, but crowds bypassing the courts of law were more likely to alienate upstanding citizens from supporting the cause than to encourage solidarity.[56] Other objections to the Joyce, Jr., crowd appeared in the Continental Journal, while the Boston Gazette published defenses.[57] "Joyce, Jr.," him-self took to the press to denounce those "Moderate Men, alias Hypocrits," who urged restraint against monopolists, but despite his bravado, Joyce did not appear again at the head of a Boston mob. Indeed, the crowd had gone substantially farther than temporarily suspending a storekeeper's right to retail as he or she saw fit. As Smith noted, it was radical indeed to encourage ordinary Bostonians, acting in crowds, to take it upon them-selves to determine who was patriot and who was tory. People who assumed their own competence at delineating the boundaries of the Boston community might assume the right to define the limits of the Revolution itself.

Popular initiative particularly troubled those patriots who sought a simple transfer of power from British to American hands and who saw crowds and even committees as temporary expedients at best. As price inflation and the incidence of food riots increased, "Moderate Men" questioned the policy of keeping equitable dealing at the center of the Revolution. The identification of monopolizers, withholders, and price gougers as enemies caused growing discomfort for patriot merchants and others. As a result, some patriot leaders proposed financial policies that would dissociate prices from patriotism. As early as February 1777, Congressman Benjamin Rush expressed the conviction that commodity prices had little to do with social ethics. "We estimate our Virtue by a false barometer when we measure it by the price of goods," he argued, and other members of Congress concurred. Rush and his allies favored heavy taxation to drain the economy of paper money and discouraged price legislation.[58]

By midyear, merchants and their allies were pressing state governments to repeal price control laws. Worried by Joyce, Jr.'s crowd, Boston merchants rallied to carry the May town meeting against price controls. The laws caused conflict, the meeting told its representatives, as well as operating "directly opposite to the Idea of Liberty," which idea was explicitly equated with free trade.[59] The town meeting in Providence, Rhode Island, called for an end to price ceilings and antiwithholding statutes, complaining that such laws "render a Man's House and Store liable to be opened and searched in a Manner most ignominious and unworthy in Freemen."[60] Despite the continued popularity of price control laws in rural areas and among urban consumers, mercantile interests managed to secure their repeal in New Hampshire and Massachusetts by fall.[61]

With or without laws on the books, however, Bostonians insisted on their right to enforce equitable exchange. Abigail Adams reported that "there has been much rout and Noise in the Town for several weeks." Crowds broke into merchants' stores, seized coffee and sugar, and dealt them out in small quantities to townspeople.[62] Boston women took to the streets over the summer, too. One diarist reported a "Female Riot" in late July: roughly 100 women accosted merchant Thomas Boylston, placed him in a cart, seized the keys to his warehouse, and confiscated coffee that he had refused to sell.[63] Another diary suggests that women appeared on at least one other occasion in Boston, on Copp's Hill.[64] In September still another crowd followed the precedent set by Joyce, Jr., and carted six men across the neck to Roxbury, this time without the prompting or direction of committee members. James Warren applauded the mob: "The patience of the people has been wonderful, and if they had taken more of them, and some of more importance their vengeance, or rather resentment, would have been well directed." Still, Warren admitted, others dissented from his view. The action "seems to be irregular and affords a subject for Moderate Folks and Tories to descant largely and wisely against mobs."[65] In the final months of I 777, crowds engaged in aggressive confrontations with engrossing merchants. About 900 gathered in the North End in their own rump town meeting. They resolved to offer paper money for engrossed goods but to take the goods "in some other way" if refused. On the next day some 500 inhabitants met at the store of Jonathan Amory, a merchant long known for hoarding. A participant later recalled, "Mr. Amory, in order to quiet the inhabitants, and prevent his Sugar being taken from him without pay," sent for three members of Boston's committee and asked them to interpose on his behalf. In turn, the crowd delegated representatives to confer with the patriot leaders, who agreed to disburse the sugar at a price acceptable to both parties. The triumphant crowd carted Amory's sugar to a nearby store, weighed it, and left it for storage under the supervision of the three committeemen. To Amory's supply the crowd soon added the sugar held by other merchants (including patriot Isaac Sears). The three men supervised the sale of West Indian sugar well into the summer of 1778 and, according to one of them, "kept down the Price of Wood and Grain for above a Year, till all the Sugars were Sold."[66] By the end of 1777, then, inhabitants of Boston had bypassed their town meeting and forced committeemen to take responsibility for ensuring adequate supply and price equity. The crowd against Amory even established a committee to negotiate with members of Boston's patriot leadership. In Beverly, Massachusetts, a female crowd took similar measures, breaking into a distill-house, seizing sugar, forcing other merchants to hand over their supplies, and setting up one of their number, a storekeeper, to supervise retail.[67]

In both instances, patriot leaders found themselves negotiating with rather than leading crowds and facing "mobs" that set up their own leaders or committees to deal with town officials. These price rioters departed in significant ways from European or colonial precedents; they gave notice that they meant to take an active part in shaping the Revolution. Tentatively, then assertively, opponents of price regulation publicly endorsed free trade in the patriot press beginning in 1777. Their arguments slowly gained influence, as the difficulty of enforcing price ceilings without repeated recourse to coercive, divisive, and sometimes lower-class crowds became more and more apparent. Patriot leaders gradually turned away from price laws and from formulations of Revolutionary purpose that tied patriotism to equitable prices and economic morality more broadly defined. Outside Poughkeepsie, New York, storekeeper Peter Messier was visited by two or three crowds, mostly women, who seized and paid their own price for tea and, on their last visit, allegedly gave Messier's servants a beating while searching (possibly vandalizing) his house, all in the name of the local committee. In New Windsor, New York, men and women relieved two Albany traders of the tea they were shipping through town, then sold their booty at a price they saw fit. The provincial congress disapproved strenuously. "In a free country," the congress insisted, "no man ought to be divested of his property, but by his own consent or the law of the land." Repeatedly, Revolutionary authorities called on the people to take their grievances to the courts and to leave the matter of chastising monopolists and tories to proper authority.[68] Equally important, patriot leaders had to suppress conflict between military and civilian supply. When twenty women in East Hartford seized sugar that had been set aside for army use, the patriot press made clear its disapproval.[69] The possibility that crowds would actually hamper the war effort materialized in Boston in 1778, when townspeople and sailors created an incident that threatened to shake the newly concluded alliance with France. The French set up a bakery in Boston to supply their fleet; when the baker refused to sell to townspeople, fighting broke out in the streets and two French officers who intervened were wounded, one of them fatally.[70] Patriot leaders hastened to pass off the incident as the result of British sympathizers' efforts to sow dissension between the allies. In reality, it illustrated the constant potential for conflict between city residents and government agents for military supply.

Ironically, patriot leaders' gravest challenge came from those who insisted that their actions were fully in keeping with the war. In Philadel-phia as in Boston, radical leaders, drawn from the ranks of middling artisans and professionals, mediated between conservative merchants and petty artisans and laborers. As in Boston, too, committeemen struggled to retain control of the process and to preempt mob action, even while wielding the threat of such violence against town traders. Matters came to a head in May 1779, when the price of foodstuffs in the city soared. Fifty-one militiamen addressed the Pennsylvania assembly, lamenting the distress felt by poor and middling alike. The city's radical leaders quickly set a public meeting for May 25. That very morning, however, people gave notice that they would not fully trust matters to committees; men armed with clubs visited shopkeepers to force them to lower prices. The mass meeting that followed resolved that, in the face of monopolizing, hoarding, and price gouging, "the public have a right to enquire into the causes of such extraordinary abuses, and prevent them." The meeting established committees to investigate flour engrossing and to set price ceilings in the upcoming months. After the meeting, thousands were reported clamoring for bread, and crowds escorted a merchant, a butcher, and a speculator accused of raising prices to the city jail.[71] As had happened in Boston two years earlier, crowds did more than temporarily suspend the rights of retailers by taking their goods. Instead, they assumed the power to identify and punish enemies to the patriot cause.

The fall brought one final crowd - not strictly a food riot but nonetheless fully of a piece with previous popular actions against monopolists and tories. On October 4, shortly after Philadelphia committeemen acknowledged their inability to stem inflation, a group of militiamen summarily arrested five "tories." In the afternoon the crowd marched to the house of price control opponent James Wilson, where about twenty political conservatives had gathered. As they reached Wilson's residence, a shot rang out from an upper window; the militiamen attacked the house but were dispersed by the "aristocratic silk-stocking brigade," composed in part of men ranked among the city's radical leadership. In ensuing days, the assembly distributed flour among the poor and restated its opposition to forestalling and monopoly. After a foiled attempt by persons unknown to free arrested militiamen from jail, the state pardoned the rioters. With these concessions authorities hoped to damp conflict and bind up the cross-class coalition on which the Revolution had relied from the outset.[72] Yet the specter of violent confrontation helped persuade leaders to abandon that coalition. By 178o, it had become clear that neither Congress nor the states would pursue price control policies; both, moreover, would discourage popular political forms. By 1780, the Revolution had changed.

The fundamental significance of that change comes clear when we consider women's riots, because women's participation, above all else, marked price rioting as revolutionary and its suppression as counterrevolutionary. True, women had not been altogether absent from earlier eighteenth-century crowds. When Boston soldiers returned from defeat at Port Royal in 1707, women met them with jeers and soaked them with the contents of chamber pots in an act of public judgment. Women may have participated in Boston's 1747 anti-impressment riots, and evidence suggests that in rural areas women were among the "people" or "inhabitants" who defended community interests and enforced community morality.[73] For all that, however, women participated more fully in food riots than they had in earlier riots, as the comments of contemporaries make clear. Abigail Adams referred to a Boston's women's crowd as "a New Set of Mobility," during whose proceedings a number of men "stood amazd silent Spectators." The New Windsor store manager who reported that "the women! in this place" had formed a mob to seize tea clearly felt some surprise about it.[74]

Some people had a hard time accepting the political nature of women's actions. The Boston women who forced Thomas Boylston into a cart, confiscated his warehouse keys, and made away with his supply of coffee provoked revealing comments. Abigail Adams reported the rumour that Boylston had received "a Spanking" from the women and added, "this I believe was not true." Given Adams's sense of its unlikelihood, along with the absence of any report of spanking in other accounts of the incident, what seems interesting is the existence of the titillating rumor. Eighteenth-century people may have found it more plausible to characterize the women's effort to mete out punishment in terms of parental discipline, thus casting the action in terms proper to women's familial role, than to invoke metaphors of public hangings and public justice associated with male crowds that, in like manner, put their victims in a cart. John Adams was both condescending and moralistic toward the Boston women. "You have made me merry with the female Frolic," he wrote Abigail, and appended the pious hope that the women would overcome their love of coffee in the future.[75] The association between women and frivolous consumption apparently prevented John from considering other motivations for and implications of the crowd. Yet the Boston town meeting recognized that city dwellers needed coffee and other imported groceries not only for their own consumption but to exchange with farmers for produce and meat.[76]

Despite the mixed reactions to women's crowds, no one seems to have argued that women overstepped their bounds when they challenged hoarding merchants. The Connecticut Courant came close. In August 17 7 7, about twenty women met at the Lyon Tavern and, "with a Flank Guard of three chosen Spirits of the male line," began an orderly one-mile march to "Mr. Pitkin's store" in East Hartford. There is no record of the confrontation with Pitkin or his clerk, but the newspaper reported that the women took 2 I 8 pounds of sugar that had been stored there for the army. There was a short scuffle with a man on horseback, whom the women took for the owner of the sugar but who quickly rode away. The Courant mocked "so unexampled a Spirit of Heroism" and suggested that the women form a battalion to range the countryside and live off of their "perquisites and plunder." Their standard, said the paper, could be decorated with "an elegant device of a lady inverted," a comment implying that the women had indeed stepped out of their place, turning the world upside down. Even here, however, the Courant's real objection was that the sugar was earmarked for the army, not that the rioters were female. Victims of the Salem's women's crowd seem to have taken the women quite as seriously as if they had been men, for the victims entered a prosecution against the rioters for theft of goods. (The women-or someone else-responded in dead earnest by leaving burning coals at their prosecutors' doors.)[77] Overall, the women acted seriously. The Kingston women who threatened that, without tea, they would prevent their sons and husbands from fighting for the cause drew on their power in the household. Elsewhere, women showed that they felt entitled to use conventions more proper to a public role. True, a number of women's crowds engaged at least a few men in their enterprises. The Fishkill women "entreated" male passersby for aid; the East Hartford crowd enlisted three men to raid Pitkin's store; in Beverly, women took along a few men with axes to chop down distillery gates; and the New York women who confronted Messier had three continental soldiers accompany them, thereby arming themselves with male authority in general and army authority in particular. Similarly, women's crowds invoked committees or the Continental Congress to justify or legitimate their actions.[78] But male presence was apparently unnecessary-some crowds involved no men at all-and even support from committees or other Revolutionary authorities was dispensable.[79] Eighteenth-century women had little reason to doubt their competence at such matters as equitable pricing and neighborly dealing. In America, as in England and on the continent, women took part in marketing and buying for their households. Women were innkeepers, victualers, green-women (supplying urban markets), and storekeepers, like the one who presided over sales of the crowd's booty in Beverly. Female shopkeepers and innkeepers were accustomed to facing profit-seeking wholesalers. Rural and urban housewives participated with men in the exchanges of labor and goods that marked everyday life. Equally important, women were accustomed to responsibility for the welfare of their neighbors. "Charity" and mutual support in times of difficulty lay within women's as well as men's purview.[80] Neither housewives nor tradeswomen trespassed on male terrain when they worried about the equity of prices, for prices represented relationships between neighbors, a part of community life in which women had long been competent and involved. When the Boston women offered Boylston's tea to the impoverished North End, or when the Fishkill women doled out tea in small quantities, they acted in familiar roles if not strictly in familiar ways.[81]

Despite that, women in Boston, Beverly, East Hartford, New Windsor, Fishkill, and Salem established a public presence in ways that their mothers and grandmothers had not done. It was an extraordinary and radical leap for women to claim authority from the Continental Congress or local Revolutionary committees. When they modeled their actions on the activities of Revolutionary authorities, marched the streets as if in the army, or enacted the rituals of male crowds, these women cast themselves as competent actors in a political context from which they had largely been excluded.

Two conditions allowed that to happen. One was the willingness of patriot leaders to breach the line that had separated governmental affairs from everyday life. Beginning in 1765, members of the colonial elite made common cause with their social inferiors. The nonimportation, noncon-sumption agreements central to the patriot movement embraced local networks of exchange and ideas about exchange that inhered in those networks. Moreover, pacts such as the Association linked abstract issues of imperial relations, normally the exclusive preoccupation of the elite, to the daily life of free Americans. Such mundane matters as tea drinking, thread spinning, and buying and selling became crucial political matters; their implications in local, provincial, and imperial patterns of power were laid bare. Not only did ordinary men and women join the elite to defend the rights of colonial assemblies, the elite joined ordinary men and women to endorse local ideals of equitable dealing and encourage popular cultural forms. With fervent injunctions to vigilance, patriot leaders authorized ordinary people, men and women alike, to enforce local notions of fairness and the common good.[82]

Equally important, women themselves brought into the resistance and war sources of legitimacy that were their own and that remained even when patriot leaders' commitment to those values wavered and crumbled. It made a difference that Americans knew that women figured prominently in food riots in England and Europe, and it made a difference that ideals of equity, neighborly dealing, and charity informed American women's daily lives in the colonial period. As a result, with or without price control laws on the books, and with or without the support of men, women acted. And what was starkly the case for women's crowds-that some sources for their legitimacy lay outside the control of the elite-was also the case for men's crowds. In responding to price control riots, patriot leaders had to contend with deep-seated and self-supported beliefs that held it legitimate for people outside the political nation, even women, to act to secure equitable dealings according to local standards for the same. What is revealed by wartime food riots was the existence of a particular political role in the eighteenth century, the experience of a public formed outside the town meeting and open to participation by some who could not vote as well as by many who could.[83] The political premises that undergirded these popular actions are not adequately described by Real Whig theory, which cast crowds in narrow, oppositional terms and contained them within elite conceptions of oppression and elite prescriptions for what resistance might be and do. Price rioters exhibited the capacity for independent judgment; they assumed the right not to be convinced by elite ideas of justice; they asserted the ability to hold and express their own.

How are we to understand this form of politics and the political identity that it offered and required? What relationship did it bear to the more familiar institutions of citizenship that replaced it? In the first place, it was not a liberal form. In the liberal state, citizens offer their allegiance and the state engages to protect them from interference by others and from the state itself. Relationships among citizens may be economic, social, or cultural in nature, but not political, because the "public" is created pre-eminently by the individual ballot. Citizenship thus consists of vertical ties connecting each individual with the state.[84] By contrast, eighteenth-century Americans lived within and acknowledged horizontal linkages, notable for their multiplicity and intricacy, created by kinship, fellowship, neighboring, and local exchange, and eroded or at least challenged, on the one hand, by growth of a liberal bureaucratic state and, on the other, by increased engagement within the Atlantic market. Relationships within this public were not equal, but they were reciprocal and at one and the same time economic, social, cultural, and political. Women's participation clarifies and secures this conclusion: their political capacity bespoke an economic and social competence derived from neither the Atlantic market nor liberal theory.

Indeed, women's entitlement to riot was not, as John Bohstedt claims for the English case, a form of "proto-citizenship." Women's actions are less easily understood as a parent to the modes of participation available in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries than as a particular eighteenth-century form that was not encompassed in liberal "citizenship." Their political practices were possible because, as Jan Lewis notes, eighteenth century thought located family and state on a single continuum of society, rather than separating them into public and private realms. Women's participation was possible, in other words, given a peculiar popular access to public time that nineteenth-century citizenship would not encompass and that liberalism would reformulate and, in some instances, actively counter.[85]

If it was not a liberal public that gathered in Revolutionary food riots, was it a republican one? That is a finer question; the answer depends on our understanding of "republican."[86] The public that engaged in food riots was not unbounded: unfree Americans could not easily form themselves into "inhabitants," "the town," or "the people." Nonetheless, the capacity to act within a local, plebeian public arose not from individual traits that set someone apart and above (as civic virtue) but from embeddedness in a community. Exclusion was therefore less definitive of this popular participation than it was of most "republican" forms.[87]

Yet we should not take lightly the rioters' own assertion that they were part of the wider struggle against Britain and on behalf of American liberty. That claim suggests the persuasiveness of the republican ideology preached by the patriot elite, its power to engage and transform popular consciousness; it also suggests the power of a popular stream of culture that appropriated elite ideas. That popular opinion firmly located wartime price riots in the Revolution testifies to a plebeian version of republicanism deeply informed by long-standing ideals for neighborly dealing as well as by the egalitarianism that often infused plebeian notions of equity. The riots reflect the power of popular ideals of right and good. Those ideals, like the men and women who articulated and enforced them on city streets and country roads, resided in local networks and practices of exchange. Equally, like Real Whig thought, those ideals were something of an import. Carried to the New World by immigrants, Anglo-American sail-ors, English soldiers, and the popular press, traditions of popular politics were among the anglicizing forces shaping eighteenth-century America.[88]

Seen from this perspective, patriotism took shape at the intersection of elite and popular cultural streams, combining the political forms of governed and governors. It is crucial not only to bear in mind that both streams existed but also to imagine their separation or independence as partial and problematic. After all, the food riots of Revolutionary America reveal unity as well as disagreement between different classes of Americans. At the outset, members of the Continental Congress, Revolutionary state governments, and local committees agreed with rioters that economic transactions had political significance, that price gougers were tories, and that the Revolution hinged on the creation of new (or recreation of old) standards of obligation among neighbors. We need to consider and investigate the degree to which elite as well as popular republicanism drew on experiences of local exchange and incorporated ideals of neighboring inherent in the collective social arrangements of much of northern colonial society. It would not be surprising if members of the patriot elite shared ideals with the middling farmers, artisans, laborers, and servants who lived in their counties and towns and, in many cases, after all, in their own households. We know that elite Americans recognized the need to negotiate and to accommodate popular values that they did not share. Political insiders, it is said, read the tracts of eighteenth-century commonwealthmen and found a theory that made sense in light of their political experience in lower houses of assembly, particularly as they negotiated and struggled with royal governors.[89] We now can supplement that view: that theory made sense, even to some elite colonists, in light of their experience within and in relationship to the various local publics of American societies. It made sense not on a presumption of equality, which was limited, but on the basis of the existence and durability of horizontal ties, which created a more compelling ideal. We should see republican ideology not merely as something that was imported and then filtered down or disseminated out, but rather-not unlike commodities from England-as seized, interpreted, and applied in the context of local exchange and local ideas.[90]

The story of wartime food riots involves the gradual abandonment of price control policies by patriot governments and the gradual radicalization of rioters. There were many moments of significance: Bostonians followed John Winthrop in carting tories out of town, then repeated the action without elite direction. A Boston crowd named representatives to negotiate with elected committees over the disposition of expensive sugars. In Boston, those left in charge of sugar sales were "gentlemen" rather than crowd members, whereas a Salem mob left retail of confiscated goods in the hands of one of its own, establishing itself in this way as an ongoing institution. North Enders held their own mass meeting to discuss grievances and determine appropriate action. Crowds appropriated the forms of the patriot movement.

Elite patriots at least foresaw the possibility that crowds would not negotiate with committees but replace them. By late 1779, a solid pro-portion of the patriot leadership was anxious to calm antitory sentiment. As it abandoned the policy of currency finance, the Continental Congress withdrew its support from a radical popular politics that required active committees and vigilance by people outside committees. Those who argued, with Benjamin Rush, that prices had nothing to do with virtue were not merely adopting ideas of the Scottish Enlightenment, they were opting for crowd and committee quiescence, for the forging of financial policy by men of reason in the halls of Congress and not by crowds in the city streets.

For some years, popular sentiment proved powerful enough to hold the patriot movement to ideals of social and economic equity. As late as 1779, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire merchants responded to that power; alarmed by Philadelphia events and fearing "a like conflict," these traders took up voluntary price limits again. Although those agreements prevailed for only a few months, they testify to the tenacity of the popular desire to keep local standards of economic fairness central to the Revolution.[91]

It seems unlikely that most price rioters or their sympathizers discarded their belief in fair dealing, not least because those ideals had become bound up in their sense of what the Revolution was about. Long after the Revolution, many Americans maintained the association of moral values and economic life. As their society underwent broad structural change, many citizens of the early republic persisted in viewing such matters as prices, wages, employment, and debt as social relationships, rightfully vulnerable to community values and oversight, amenable to the competence of ordinary intelligence, and proper to the realm of the commonality.[92]

What was lost was the social and political frame that made sense of the food or price riot as a political form. The elite drew back from its endorsement of popular politics in 1780; the Continental Congress discouraged crowds and courted the support of wealthy and conservative men. Of all the changes of the postwar years, several were crucial: the suppression of popular cultural forms; the increasing dissociation (how-ever inaccurate for many) of women and production; the growing association of women with consumption and leisure; the growing articulation of social experience into realms either "public" or "private." These aspects of capitalist development critically delimited political practice.[93] The Revolution itself made an ironic difference in political possibility: the new American governments, after all, claimed the status of "We the People." That revolutionary fact provided a rationale for suppressing crowds, channeling participation into the process of the vote, and closing down available terrain outside that chosen form.


Ms. Smith is a curator in the Department of Social and Cultural History at the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution. She expresses gratitude to those who provided critical comments on early drafts of this study, especially Daniel Bluestone, Ruth Bogin, Edward Countryman, Peter Dimock, David Jaffee, Linda Kerber, Gary Kornblith, Edmund S. Morgan, and Alfred Young. Research for this essay had generous support from the American Council of Learned Societies, the John Carter Brown Library, and the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution. The late E. P. Thompson inspired this work and encouraged its author with immense grace and generosity.

1. See note 94 below for my tabulation of the riots. The gender composition of crowds and reporters' frequent ambiguity about it appear in the text below and in the appendix. Newspaper accounts provided one source by which people learned about the actions of others. The pattern of events in some areas-for example, the timing of rioting in Salem, Marblehead, and Boston, Mass., in spring 1777- strongly suggests that some riots unfolded as word of mouth brought news of others.

2. These terms are controversial; nonetheless, even those who contend that "capitalism came in the first ships" acknowledge substantial development and change over the following centuries. Two valuable reviews of the literature on early American social and economic structures that also provide new directions are Christopher Clark, "Economics and Culture: Opening Up the Rural History of the The William and Mary Quarterly, 3d Series, Vol. LI, No. i, January I994 Early American Northeast," American Quarterly, XLIII (i99i), 279-301, and Allan Kulikoff, "The Transition to Capitalism in Rural America," William and Mary Quarterly, 3d Ser., XLVI (i989), 120-144.

3. This distinction merits emphasis in light of recent debates over whether English and European food riots were anticapitalist. John Bohstedt queries that characterization, stressing that rioters accepted many aspects of the market and took market price, under conditions of plentiful supply, as the fair or just price they sought. In his view, food rioters opposed only abuses of the capitalist market; Bohstedt, "The Moral Economy and the Discipline of Historical Context,"Journal of Social History, XXVI (I992), 265-284. To address the issues raised by Bohstedt lies outside the purview of this article, yet note that price rioters clearly did not equate the free (that is, unregulated) market with an invariable experience of plenty and the reasonable prices provided thereby. Moreover, to withhold goods and raise prices was not unambiguously an "abuse" of capitalism. In the 18th century, certainly, what appeared to some as violations of the social rules govern-ing exchange might be defended by a crowd victim as "the ordinary course of ... business" (as did Samuel Colton, in "The Merchant Samuel Colton Documents," The LongmeadowC entennial: Proceedingsa t the Centennial Celebrationo f the Incor-poration of the Town of Longmeadow, 1883 [Longmeadow, Mass., i884], 2i6.)

4. The phrase is Bohstedt's in "The Myth of the Feminine Food Riot: Women as Proto-Citizensi n EnglishC ommunityP olitics, 1790-i8i0," in HarrietB . Apple-white and Darline G. Levy, eds., Women and Politics in the Age of the Democratic Revolution (Ann Arbor, Mich., 1990), 2i. The classic literature on the common people's politics in France and England includes George Rude, The Crowd in History: A Study of Popular Disturbances in France and England, I 73 0o-848 (New York, i964), and E. P. Thompson, "The Moral Economy of the English Crowd in the Eighteenth Century," Past and Present, No. 50 (197I), 76-131, "Patrician Society, Plebeian Culture,"J. Soc. Hist., VII (I974), 382-405, and "Eighteenth- Century English Society: Class Struggle without Class?" Social History, III (I978), 133-i65. More recent studies are cited in Bohstedt, "Moral Economy," and Thompson, "The Moral Economy Reviewed," in Customs in Common: Studies in Traditional Popular Culture (New York, 1991), 259-35'. On popular politics in America see Pauline Maier, From Resistance to Revolution: Colonial Radicals and the Developmento f AmericanO ppositiont o Britain, I 765-I 776 (New York, 1972), chap. i; Dirk Hoerder, Crowd Action in Revolutionary Massa-chusetts, I 765-I 780 (New York, 1977); Gary B. Nash, The Urban Crucible: Social Change, Political Consciousness, and the Origins of the American Revolution (Cam-bridge, Mass., 1979); Edward Countryman, "'Out of the Bounds of the, Law': Northern Land Rioters in the Eighteenth Century," in Alfred F. Young, ed., The American Revolution: Explorations in the History of American Radicalism (DeKalb, Ill., 1976), 37-70; and Paul A. Gilje, The Road to Mobocracy: Popular Orderi n New York City, I 763-1 834 (Chapel Hill, N. C., i987).

5. Students of food riots and taxation populaire will note that American practices departed from European ones in a variety of ways. Nonetheless, there was no uniform Old World model: English and French riots differed according to region, time, and circumstance, too. I emphasize here continuities of form and belief-the availability of Old World popular culture as a resource. Maier, Resistance to Revolution, treats American crowds in terms of elite ideolo-gies rather than popular cultural resources on either side of the Atlantic. Empha-sizing Americans' access to those resources are Alfred F. Young, "English Plebeian Culture and Eighteenth-Century American Radicalism," in Margaret Jacob and James Jacob, eds., The Origins of Anglo-American Radicalism (London, i 984), i85-212; Charles Tilly, "Collective Action in England and America, 1765-1775," in Richard Maxwell Brown and Don E. Fehrenbacher, eds., Tradition, Conflict, and Modernization:P erspectiveso n the American Revolution (New York, I 977), 45-70; and Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker, "The Many-Headed Hydra: Sailors, Slaves, and the Atlantic Working Class in the Eighteenth Century," Journal of Historical Sociology, III (1990), 225-252. On continuities in moral economic ideas in particular see also Ruth Bogin, "Petitioning and the New Moral Economy of Post-Revolutionary America," WMQ, 3d Ser., XLV (i988), 391-425, and Nash, Urban Crucible. Studies of English and continental food riots include Charles Tilly, "Food Supply and Public Order in Modern Europe," in The Formation of National States in Western Europe (Princeton, N. J., 1975), 386; R. B. Rose, "Eighteenth-Century Price Riots and Public Policy in England," International Review of Social History, VI (i961), 277-292, and "Eighteenth-Century Price Riots, the French Revolution, and the Jacobin Maximum," ibid., IV, Pt. 3 (i959), 432-445; Elizabeth Fox- Genovese, "The Many Faces of Moral Economy," Past and Present, No. 58 (1973), i6i-i68; Steven L. Kaplan, Bread, Politics, and Political Economy in the Reign of Louis XV, 2 vols. (The Hague, 1976); and Bohstedt, "Moral Economy."

6. Ruth H. Bloch, "The Gendered Meanings of Virtue in Revolutionary Amer-ica," Signs, XIII (i987), 39, notes that "conceptions of sexual difference ... underlay some of the most basic premises of the Revolution." Linda K. Kerber, Women of the Republic: Intellect and Ideology in Revolutionary America (Chapel Hill, N. C., i980), chap. I, 265-288, describes women's exclusion from politics and also the ideal of republican motherhood. See also Jan Lewis, "The Republican Wife: Virtue and Seduction in the Early Republic," WMQ, 3d Ser., XLIV (i987), 689-721; Mary Beth Norton, Liberty's Daughters: The Revolutionary Experience of AmericanW omen, 1750-i800 (Boston, i 980); Joan Hoff-Wilson," The Illusiono f Change: Women and the American Revolution," in Young, American Revolution, 383-445; and Joan R. Gundersen, "Independence, Citizenship, and the American Revolution," Signs, XIII (i987), 59-77. Joan W. Scott, "Gender: A Useful Category of Analysis," American Historical Review, XCI (i986), 1053-1075, sug-gests that exploring women's experience is valuable not only in its own right but also because it clarifies men's experience and the history of society as a whole. I contend below that this is the case regarding Revolutionary food riots.

7. Ralph V. Harlow, "Aspects of Revolutionary Finance," AHR, XXXV (1929), 46-68. E. James Ferguson, The Power of the Purse (Chapel Hill, N. C., i96i), recounts the history of government emissions, depreciation, inflation, and price controls. Anne Bezanson, Prices and Inflation During the American Revolution: Pennsylvania, 17 70-I 790 (Philadelphia, 195 I), providesa thorougha ccounto f the course of price inflation in that state. See also Harlow, "Economic Conditions in Massachusetts During the American Revolution," Colonial Society of Massachu-setts, Publications, XX (1917-1919), I63-190.

8. Diary of Stephen Williams, July i i, 1776, bk. 9, I 17, typescript copy, Richard Salter Storrs Library, Longmeadow, Mass.; "The Merchant Samuel Colton Docu-ments," 271-272; See also Lee Nathaniel Newcomer, The Embattled Farmers: A Massachusetts Countryside in the American Revolution (New York, 1953), 125.

9. Diary of Stephen Williams, 12 1-122. Colton's reply to the General Court, ca. Feb. I, 178i, Massachusetts Archives, 231: 142-144, Massachusetts Statehouse, Boston (hereafter cited as Mass. Arch.). I have written about Colton's experience at greater length in After the Revolution: The Smithsonian History of Everyday Life in the Eighteenth Century (New York, i985), 3-42.

10 Constitutional Gazette, Aug. 26, 1776, excerpted in Frank Moore, ed., Diary of the American Revolution, 2 vols. (New York, i969; orig. pub. i86o), I, 287-288.

11. "A Farmer," Connecticut Courant, Feb. i6, 1778. Two years earlier, "A. Z." had similarly noted that high prices and oppression were "the very thing we are fighting against" on the battlefield; ibid., Jan. I 3, 1776.

12. Treatments of wartime price controls include Anne Bezanson, "Inflation and Controls During the American Revolution in Pennsylvania: 1774-1779,"Journal of EconomicH istory, VII (I 948), supplement, I-2o; Kenneth Scott, "Price Control in New England During the Revolution," New England Quarterly, XIX (1946), 45 3-473; and Oscar Handlin and Mary Flug Handlin, Commonwealth: AStudy of the Role of Government in the American Economy: Massachusetts, 17 74-1861 (New York, I947; rev. ed. i969), chap. i. Eric Foner, Tom Paine and Revolutionary America (New York, 1976), analyzes Philadelphia's movement for price controls in the context of Revolutionary ideology and political and social divisions within the patriot movement. Richard B. Morris, Government and Labor in Early America (New York, 1975; orig. pub. 1946), interprets wartime price control legislation and sentiment of a piece with colonial experience of government regulation of economic behavior. Richard Buel, Jr., emphasizes the continuity seen in commit-tee forms from early resistance years, in "The Committee Movement of 1779 and the Formation of Public Authority in Revolutionary America," in James A. Henretta, Michael Kammen, and Stanley N. Katz, eds., The Transformation of Early American History: Society, Authority, and Ideology (New York, i99 i), I 5 I-I69. However, note Buel's contention that "the revolutionaries behaved from the start of the war as though the two [civic virtue and the commercial values of the marketplace] were perfectly reconcilable," p. I 54.

13. The Oxford English Dictionary defines "oppression" as "2a. the action of weighing down or bearing heavily on a person, the mind, feelings, etc.; pressure of outward circumstances, or of grief, pain, or trouble; the condition of being pressed hard by misfortune, distress.... 3. Exercise of authority or power in a burden-some, harsh, or wrongful manner; unjust or cruel treatment of subjects, inferiors, etc.; the imposition of unreasonable or unjust burdens." Among the writers of Revolutionary sermons and pamphlets who associated political and economic oppression explicitly was Timothy Stone, The Nature, and Evil, of Selfishness, Considered and Elustrated ... (Norwich, Conn., 1778), esp. 26-27.

14. Hence the necessary tie between "taxation" and "representation." On the Real Whig ideology that historians believe to have influenced many Revolution-aries see Caroline Robbins, The Eighteenth-CenturyC ommonwealthman: Studies in the Transition, Development, and Circumstances of English Liberal Thought from the Restoration of Charles II until the War with the Thirteen Colonies (Cambridge, Mass., 1959), and Bernard Bailyn, Ideological Origins of the American Revolution (Cam-bridge, Mass., i967). Richard Bushman, "Massachusetts Farmers and the Revo-lution," in Richard M. Jellison, ed., Society,F reedom, and Conscience:T he American Revolution in Virginia, Massachusetts, and New York (New York, 1976), 77-124, illuminates ways that backcountry farmers in the Bay Colony understood political and economic oppression to be bound together.

15. This understanding of rural life has emerged in the last 20 years. Christopher Clark, "Economics and Culture"; Kulikoff, "Transition to Capitalism." The earlier articles that developed the debate include Michael Merrill, "Cash Is Good to Eat: Self-Sufficiency and Exchange in the Rural Economy of the United States," Radical History Review, XIV (I977), 42-71; James A. Henretta, "Families and Farms: Mentalite in Pre-Industrial America," WMQ, 3d Ser., XXXV (1978), 3-32; Christopher Clark, "The Household Economy, Market Exchange and the Rise of Capitalism in the Connecticut Valley, i8oo-i86o," J. Soc. Hist., XIII (I979), 172-75. An important work on rural social and cultural change is Christopher Clark, The Roots of Rural Capitalism: Western Massachusetts, 1780-1860 (Ithaca, N. Y., i990), chaps. I, 2. The minister was Jonathan French, A Practical Discourse Against Extortion (Boston, 1777).

16. james Ball of Mill Creek Hundred, Del., testifying in the case of Andrew Gifn v. John Ball, executor of John Ball, deceased, Jan. i804, Case G-4, New Castle County Court of Chancery Records, i806-i807, Delaware Hall of Records, Dover. The significance of "neighbor" is also evidenced by the care with which northern towns distinguished people who held that status from "stranger," setting apart a person who had a legitimate claim on the resources of the commu-nity from one who did not. Robert E. Mutch, "Yeoman and Merchant in Pre- Industrial America: Eighteenth-Century Massachusetts as a Case Study," Societas, VII (I977), 279-287. See also Winifred B. Rothenberg, "The Market and Mas-sachusetts Farmers, 175o-i855,"j. Econ. Hist., XLI (i981), 288-314.

17. Kulikoff, 'Transition to Capitalism," I25. See also Henretta, The Evolution of American Society, 1700-1815: An Interdisciplinary Analysis (Lexington, Mass., 1973), esp. chap. i. On changing patterns of debt settlement and legal forms see Bruce H. Mann, Neighbors and Strangers: Law and Community in Early Connecticut (Chapel Hill, N. C., i987). - 18This picture emerges from various accounts of trade in the colonies, esp. Margaret E. Martin, Merchants and Trade of the Connecticut River Valley, 1750- 1820, Smith College Studies, 24 (Northampton, Mass., I938-I939), I-284; Thomas Doerflinger, A Vigorous Spirit of Enterprise: Merchants and Economic De-velopment in Revolutionary Philadelphia (Chapel Hill, N. C., i986); and Carole Shammas, The Pre-Industrial Consumer in England and America (Oxford, i990), chap. 9. Christopher Clark cautions against the assumption that "markets" were generally the cause of change; he suggests that historians reverse the question, treating Americans' market involvement as a consequence of other goals in "Economics and Culture" and Roots of Rural Capitalism, 7-8.

19. 0n Boston food riots and market controversies see Barbara Clark Smith, "Markets, Streets, and Stores: Contested Terrain in Pre-Industrial Boston," in Elise Marienstras and Barbara Karsky, eds., Autre Temps, Autre Espace-An Other Time, An Other Space: Etudes sur l'Ame'riquep re'-industrielle( Nancy, Fr., i986), I8I-I97, Nash, Urban Crucible, 86-88, I32, and G. B. Warden, Boston, 1692- 1 7 76 (Boston, I 970), 66, 53-55, 76-77, I I 5-I 22. On the granary see Edward M. Hartwell, Boston and its Story, 1630-1915 (Boston, i9i6), 64-65, Abram English Brown, Faneuil Hall and Faneuil Hall Market . .. (Boston, i900), i90, and Karen J. Friedmann, "Victualling Colonial Boston," Agricultural History, XLVII (I 973), i89-205. A colonial Philadelphia bread riot appears in Carl Bridenbaugh, Cities in the Wilderness:T he First Century of Urban Life in America, 1625-I 742 (New York, I964; orig. pub. I938), 383. On the persistence of economic regulations in many colonial towns see Morris, Government and Labor, chap. i. Also see Jon C. Teaford, The Municipal Revolution in America:O riginso f ModernU rban Government,16 5o-1825 (Chicago, I975); Thomas F. De Voe, The Market Book: A History of the Public Markets of the City of New York, From its First Settlement to the Present Time (New York, I970; orig. pub. i862), esp. I39-I46. On growing inequality in the countryside see Christopher Clark, "Economics and Culture."

20. But see Joan Jensen, Loosening the Bonds: Mid-Atlantic Farm Women, 1 750-1850 (New Haven, Conn., i986). Nancy F. Cott, The Bonds of Womanhood. "Women'sSp here"in New England,1 780-1835 (New Haven, Conn., I977), chap. i, treats changes in women's work in a later period, as does Christopher Clark, Roots of Rural Capitalism.

21. Cotton Mather had claimed in the i69os that women's role was "to Spend (or ... Save) what others Get," quoted in Cott, Bonds of Womanhood, 20. Shammas, Pre-Industrial Consumer, chap. 2 and passim, traces changes in household cloth production. Shammas suggests that i8th-century women, more tied than men to the house, might have been responsible for the period's marked increase in purchase of tablewares such as utensils, ceramics, and tea equipment. If so, it would have had the effect of strengthening the idea that women were particularly responsible for consumption. See esp. pp. i86-i87. See also Lewis, "Republican Wife," 698, which offers the caveat that consumption was also associated with men in much public writing in the i8th century. On women's nature see Norton, Liberty's Daughters, chap. 4. On women and consumption see Lorna Weatherill, "A Possession of One's Own: Women and Consumer Behavior in England, i660- I 740," Journal of British Studies, XXV (I 986), I 3 I-I 56, and T. H. Breen, " 'An Empire of Goods': The Anglicization of Colonial America, I69o-1776," ibid., XXV (i986), 467-499, and "'Baubles of Britain': The American and Consumer Revolutions of the Eighteenth Century," Past and Present, No. Ii9 (i988), 73-I04.

22. Christopher Clark, "Economics and Culture." James C. Scott, The Moral Economy of the Peasant: Rebellion and Subsistence in Southeast Asia (New Haven, Conn., I976), emphasizes the insecurities introduced by exposure to the price mechanism of the market. On distinctions between Scott's and Thompson's formulation of "moral economy" see David Hunt, "From the Millennial to the Everyday: James Scott's Search for the Essence of Peasant Politics," Rad. Hist. Rev., XLII (i988), I55-172, and Thompson, "Moral Economy Reviewed."

23. On growing inequality see Nash, Urban Crucible; Henretta, "Economic De-velopment and Social Structure in Colonial Boston," WMQ, 3d Ser., XXII (i965), 75-92; Allan Kulikoff, "The Progress of Inequality in Revolutionary Boston," ibid., XXVIII (I 97 , 375-4I2; and G. B. Warden, "The Distribution of Property in Boston, i692-1775," Perspectivesin American Histoty, X (I976), 8I-I30. On rural inequality see Paul G. E. Clemens and Lucy Simler, "Rural Labor and the Farm Household in Chester County, Pennsylvania, 1750-i820," in Stephen Innes, ed., Work and Labor in Early America (Chapel Hill, N. C., i988), I IO- i I.

24. Lawrence Henry Gipson, Jared Ingersoll: A Study of American Loyalism in Relation to British Colonial Government (New Haven, Conn., I920), 172-17 3.

25. Arthur M. Schlesinger, The Colonial Merchants and the American Revolution, 1763-1776 (New York, i9i8).

26. Edmund S. Morgan, "The Puritan Ethic and the American Revolution," WMQ, 3d Ser., XXIV (i967), 8-I3, emphasizes the degree to which patriot arguments promoting the boycotts focused on their influence on Americans rather than Britons. I explore the social implications of nonimportation and noncon-sumption movements in "Social Visions of the American Resistance, 1765-177 5," in Ronald Hoffman and Peter Albert, eds., "The Trans orming Hand of Revolution"': The American Revolutiona s a Social MovementR econsidered(f orthcoming).

27. Smith, "Social Visions of the Resistance." The Continental Association ap-pears in Samuel Eliot Morison, ed., Sources and Documents Illustrating the American Revolution, I 764-1788, 2d ed. (New York i965; rpt. I977), I22-I25.

28. Barbara Clark Smith, "The Politics of Price Controls in Revolutionary Mas-sachusetts" (Ph.D. diss., Yale University, i983), chap. 2; Schlesinger, Colonial Merchants; David Ammerman, In the Common Cause: American Response to the Coercive Actso f 1774 (Charlottesville, Va., I974). Norton, Liberty's Daughters, i68, emphasizes the particular significance of patriots' "oeconomical regulations" for women, noting that they laid bare the political implications of traditional female tasks such as spinning, buying and selling, running the household with frugality, and the like.

29. Smith, "Social Visions of the Resistance."

30. Smith, After the Revolution, 3-42. Johannes Sleight to the Provincial Congress of New York, Nov. i8, 1776, Journals of the Provincial Congress, Provincial Convention,C ommitteeo f Safety, and Council of Safety of the State of New York, 2 vols. (Albany, N. Y., i842), I, 7I4.

31. Edward Countryman, A People in Revolution: The American Revolution and Political Society in New York, 1 76- 1 790 (Baltimore, I 98 I), I 82.

32. Dorchester Committee to Maryland Council of Safety, Nov. I5, 1776, Journal and Correspondenceof the Council of Safety, 1776, Archives of Maryland, ed. William H. Browne et al., 7 I vols. (Baltimore, i883-), XI, 449-45 I. John Gipson to Maryland Council of Safety, Jan. 4, 1777, ibid., I 777, Archives of Maryland, XVI, i6-i8. Ronald Hoffman, "The 'Disaffected' in the Revolutionary South," in Young, ed., American Revolution, 273-3i6, treats these Maryland events in the context of wartime civil struggle. i

33. James Sullivan, ed., Minutes of the Albany Committeeo f Correspondence,17 75- 1778, 2 vols. (Albany, N. Y., I923), I, 282-283; "Extracts from Interleaved Almanacs Kept by John White of Salem," Essex Institute Historical Collections, XLIX (I 9I3), 93; J. Provincial Congress, New York, I, 682.

34. See Smith, After the Revolution, i89 n. 4, for evidence regarding possible crowd membership.

35. Constitutional Gaz., Aug. 26, 1776, in Moore, ed., Diary of the American Revolution, I, 287.

36. Gipson to Maryland Council of Safety, Archives of Maryland, XVI, 17.

37. Shopkeepers were involved in Beverly, Mass., in 1777, as noted below. Edwin M. Stone, History of Beverly, Civil and Ecclesiastical, From Its Settlement in i630 to i842 (Boston, i843), 83-84.

38. Abigail Adams to John Adams, Apr. 20, 1777, in L. H. Butterfield, ed., Adams Family Correspondence, 2vols. (New York, i965), II, 2i8; Albert 0. Matthews, "Joyce Junior," Colonial Society of Massachusetts, Publications, VIII (I903), 90-I 04; Matthews, "Joyce Junior Once More," ibid., XI (I 907), 280-294; Esther Forbes, Paul Revere and the World He Lived In (Boston, I942), 328-329. See also Alfred F. Young, In the Streets of Boston: Artisans and Laborers in the Making of the American Revolution, 1745-1789 (forthcoming), chap. 6, and "Pope's Day, Tar and Feathers, and Cornet Joyce, Jun: From Ritual to Rebellion in Boston, 1745- 177 5," Society for the Study of Labour History Bulletin, XXVII (I973), 27-29. That Cornet George Joyce had been a mere tailor undoubtedly made him an appealing figure-and Joyce, Jr., a potent symbol-to colonists of the lower sort.

39. Fitch Edward Oliver, ed., The Diary of William Pynchon of Salem: A Picture of Salem Life, Social and Political, a Century Ago (Boston and New York, i890), 29.

40. "Account of measures taken in the Boston Sugar Shortage of 1777," photo-copies, 1783-17 84, Miscellaneous File, Robert Treat Paine Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston (hereafter cited as Paine Papers).

41. Forbes, Paul Revere, 340. On the Philadelphia events see Steven Rosswurm, Arms, Country, and Class: The Philadelphia Militia and "Lower Sort" During the American Revolution, 1775-I 783 (New Brunswick, N. J., i987), chaps. 6, 7, and Foner, Tom Paine, chap. 4.

42. Bezanson, "Prices and Inflation During the Revolution."

43. Sullivan, Minutes of the Albany Committee, I, 282-283. Another early intima-tion of possible crowd action is an article by "A. Z." in the Conn. Courant, Jan. I 3, 1776.

44. J. Provincial Congress, New York, I, 590, 609.

45. Ibid., 7 I4.

46. 1Ibid., 682.

47. Committees of Correspondence, Information, and Safety for Cambridge, Watertown, and Newton, Sept. i6, 1778, Mass. Arch., i84: 228. On wartime currency finance see E. James Ferguson, The Power of the Purse: A History of American Public Finance, 1776-1790 (Chapel Hill, N. C., i96i), chap. 2, Dorchester Committee to Maryland Council of Safety, Nov. I 5, 1776,Journal and Correspondenceof the Council of Safety, 1776, Archives of Maryland, XI, 449-45I, and John Gipson to Maryland Council of Safety, Jan. 4, 1777, ibid., XVI, i6-i8.

48. "Vox Populi," Boston Gazette, Aug. I4, 1775; Report of the Middlesex County Convention, ibid., Sept. 9, 1776. Committeemen from i8 New Hampshire and 9 Massachusetts towns met in convention at Dracut, Mass., and petitioned their respective legislatures to limit prices; "Minutes of the Dracut Convention," Collections of the New Hampshire Historical Society, 11 (i 827), 58-68. "The clamours of the people were loud for such a measure," said the Massachu-setts government about early price control legislation, in Address of the General Court, Massachusetts Spy, Jan. 8, 1778.

49 The success of these laws in controlling inflation and preventing mob action depended on local committees' willingness to use strong measures of enforcement. Despite the laws' references to legal prosecutions, in practice people assumed that committees should continue to publish violators' names and that the public should cut off trade with monopolists and hoarders, just as they had with importers, tea drinkers, and other transgressors. Americans continued to prefer their own stringent stan-dards for equity and their own remedies for inequity rather than to accept standards or punishments set by courts or prosecuting officials. Many apparently doubted that the courts would mete out justice to popular satisfaction. In Salem, Cotton Tufts reported, committeemen proved most doubters wrong, for they had "thrown open the Mercantile Stores and obliged the owners to an Observance of the Acts."

50 The committee was not strict enough for everyone in the city: in July a mob took to the streets demanding sugar and forcing stores open again, yet for the most part committee vigilance preempted crowd action.

51 In contrast, the merchants who sat on Boston's committee hesitated to move forcefully against offenders; as a result, they found themselves caught between many of their fellows' reluctance to abide by price ceilings voluntarily and the popular distress that followed when country suppliers, unable to purchase rum, sugar, coffee, tea, and other items at a set price, stopped bringing produce to the city.

52 As early as March i777, the town meeting acknowledged the inactivity of its committee by appointing a supplementary body composed of thirty-six men "not in trade."

53 Bostonians urged those appointed to act against violators not through the courts but through the press and the town meeting. As supplies of grain and produce grew scarce, the town meeting bypassed committeemen altogether, calling town merchants pub-licly to declare their holdings of flour and to abide by price ceilings and marketing laws. These measures may have brought temporary relief, yet 49Price control laws are in John Russell Bartlett, ed., Recordso f the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations in New England, io vols. (Providence, R. I., i856-i865), VIII, 85-89; Charles J. Hoadly, The Public Records of the State of Connecticut, ii vols. (Hartford, Conn., I894-I967), I, 62-63, 98-I00; Acts and Laws of the State of New Hampshire in America (Exeter, N. H., I780), 69-72; Acts and Resolves, Public and Private, of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, 2I vols. (Boston, i869-i922), V, 583-589. Gerry to Robert Treat Paine, Feb. I4, I777, Paine Papers, vol. 2. 50C otton Tufts to John Adams, Apr. 24, I777, Adams Correspondence,II , 22 I. 51 Oliver, ed., Diary of William Pynchon, 34-35. There had been rumblings of discontent with merchants earlier in Salem; see "Extracts from Interleaved Alma-nacs kept by John White," 92-94. 52 William H. Whitmore et al., eds. Reportso f the RecordC ommissioners of the City of Boston, 39 vols. (Boston, I 87 6- 908), XVIII, Boston Town Records, 260-26 I. 53 Ibid., 260-262.

54. Abigail Adams to John Adams, Mar. 8, I 777, Adams Correspondence,II , I 72.

55. Abigail Adams to John Adams, Apr. 20, 1777, ibid., 2i8; Apr. I9, 1777, [John Boyle], "Boyle's Journal of Occurrences in Boston, 1759-1778," New England Historical and Genealogical Register, LXXXV (I93 I), I28.

56. Smith, Sr., to John Adams, Apr. 25, 1777, Adams Correspondence,II , 223.

57. Continental Journal, Apr. I 0, I 777. "Well, Mr. Joyce Junior, what have you been doing?" Boston Gaz., May I2, 1777; "A Card to Joyce Junior," ibid.; Matthews, "Joyce Junior," I02-I03.

58. "Benjamin Rush, Diary," Feb. I4, 1777, in Edmund C. Burnett, Letters of Members of the Continental Congress, vol. 2 (Washington, D. C., I923), 25I.

59. Boston Town Records, XVIII, 3 I0-3 II .

6O Providence Town Meeting Records, June i6, 1777, Providence City Ar-chives, City Hall, Providence.

61. On repeal see Scott, "Price Control in New England," 458-459, and Smith, "Politics of Price Control," 32I-326.

62. Abigail Adams to John Adams, July 3 I, I 777, Adams Correspondence,II , 295.

63. July 24, 1777, "Boyle's Journal of Occurrences," I29-I30; see also Abigail Adams to John Adams, July 3I, 1777, Adams Correspondence,II , 295.

64. Oliver, ed., Diary of William Pynchon, 34.

65. James Warren to John Adams, Sept. I 7, I 7 7 7, Warren-Adams Letters . . . , 2 vols. (Boston, I917), I, 369.

66. "Measures taken in the Sugar Shortage."

67. Stone, History of Beverly, 83-84.

68. Deposition of Peter Messier, May 23, 1777, "Minutes of the Committee and of the First Commission for Detecting and Defeating Conspiracies in the State of New York, Dec. I I, I 776-Sept. 23, I 778," 2 vols., New-York Historical Society, Collectionsf or the Year I924, LVII and LVIII (I925), I, 30I-303. Jonathan Clark, "The Problem of Allegiance in Revolutionary Poughkeepsie," in David D. Hall, John M. Murrin, and Thad W. Tate, eds., Saints and Revolutionaries: Essayso n Early American History (New York, i984), 285-3 17, locates the Messier riots in the context of ongoing struggles between patriots and loyalists. The New Windsor incident is in J. Provincial Congress, New York, I, I007-I0I0.

69. Conn. Courant, Sept. 8, 1777. (This incident is also cited in Moore, ed., Diary of the Revolution, I, I28, but misdated as occurring in 1775.)

70. Forbes,P aul Revere, 340-34I.

71. On Philadelphia's struggles over prices and supply more generally see Ross-wurm, Arms, Country, and Class, chaps. 6, 7, and "Equality and Justice: Documents from Philadelphia's Popular Revolution, 1775-1780," Pennsylvania History, LII (i985), 254-268. On events in May 1779 see also Foner, Tom Paine, i66-i68. The meeting's resolution was printed in the Boston Gaz., June I4, 1779.

72. John K. Alexander, "The Fort Wilson Incident of 1779: A Case Study of the Revolutionary Crowd," WMQ, 3d Ser., XXXI (I974), 589-6I2; Foner, Tom Paine, chap. 4, esp. i65-170.

73. Alfred F. Young, "The Women of Boston: 'Persons of Consequence' in the Making of the American Revolution, 1765-76," in Applewhite and Levy, Women and Politics, i 8I-226. Elizabeth Cometti, "Women in the American Revolution," NEQ, XX (I947), 329-346, recounts a variety of women's activities, including the crowd that besieged Pitkin's store in East Hartford in 1777- See also Norton, Liberty's Daughters, and Henry Bamford Parkes, "Morals and Law Enforcement in ColonialN ew England,"N EQ, V (I932), 43 I-452.

74. Abigail Adamst o John Adams,J uly 3 I, I 777, AdamsC orrespondence,II, 2 95; Countryman, People in Revolution, I 83.

75. Abigail Adams to John Adams, July 3 I, 1777, Adams Correspondence,II , 295; John Adams to Abigail Adams, Aug. II, 1777, ibid., 305.

76. Boston Town Records, XVIII, 262.

77. Conn. Courant, Sept. 3, 1777; Oliver, ed., Diary of William Pynchon, 46.

78. The mobs against Peter Messier reportedly claimed that the local committee authorized their actions. See note 68 above.

79. The small numbers and distressingly thin descriptions of most riots make generalization doubly hazardous. It seems that crowds composed of women were as likely to work against patriot committees, as likely to act without such commit-tees, and as likely to inflict physical violence in the course of their action as crowds of men. Their activity would have us modify somewhat Linda K. Kerber's state-ment that American women, compared with European ones, lacked a collective tradition; Kerber," 'I have Don . .. much to Carrey on the Warr': Women and the Shaping of Republican Ideology after the American Revolution," in Applewhite and Levy, Women and Politics, 227-257.

80. Frances May Manges, "Women Shopkeepers, Tavernkeepers, and Artisans in Colonial Philadelphia" (Ph.D. diss., University of Pennsylvania, i958). On neighborly charity see Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, Good Wives: Image and Reality in the Lives of Women in Northern New England, I650-1750 (New York, I982), chap. 3.

81. Cynthia A. Bouton, "Gendered Behavior in Subsistence Riots: The French Flour War of I 77,"J. Soc. Hist., XXIII (I990), 735-754, associates women's activity in food riots with their role in the household economy. Hans Medick, "Plebeian Culture in the Transition to Capitalism," in Raphael Samuel and Gareth Stedman Jones, eds., Culture, Ideology and Politics (London, i982), 84-I 3, simi-larly argues that women's role in the preindustrial household, not very distinctive from men's, empowered them to act to protect the local welfare. My emphasis is less on the household than on its integration into the community through practices of neighboring as well as on other aspects of women's economic lives. See Bohstedt, "Myth of the Feminine Food Riot," and Thompson's remarks on same in "Moral Economy Reviewed." Also of interest on a later period is Louise Tilly, "Paths of Proletarianization: Organization of Production, Sexual Division of La-bor, and Women's Collective Action," Signs, VII (i98i), 400-417, which argues that, in the early 20th century, women's collective action grew out of a division of labor that assigned a woman the role of purchasing enough for the household from her husband's wages. It is notable that economic hardship for soldiers' families took a similar form during the American Revolution: the family was dependent on a cash wage, paid in a depreciated medium. Yet i 8th-century American food riots do not suggest that women considered such actions to fall within their province alone. See Temma Kaplan, "Female Consciousness and Collective Action: The Case of Barcelona, i9io-ii8," Signs, VII (i982), 545-566.

82. Smith, "Social Visions of Resistance." See also Buel, "Committee Movement of 1779."

83. As should be clear, this public is not identical to that delineated by Jurgen Habermas in The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society (Cambridge, Mass., i989), who describes the emer-gence of a bourgeois public sphere as the opening of a critical terrain, a space for discourse and evaluation sited between state and civil society, within which citizens might freely discuss political matters. The development of that terrain in America, most notably in the institutions of the colonial press, was undoubtedly crucial to the Revolution and, as Michael Warner emphasizes in The Letters of the Republic: Publication and the Public Spherei n Eighteenth-CenturyA merica( Cambridge, Mass., i990), to the articulation of republican ideas. At the same time, that "public" excluded most women and the illiterate, people who qualified as potential actors in food riots. By contrast, Revolutionary food rioters occupied a different political space, one that we must hesitate to assimilate to the sorts of citizenship described by Habermas. Food riots used forms proper to a plebeian public; as noted below, they arose out of a "society" that located state and family relations along a single continuum. Lewis, "Republican Wife," 693.

84. Michael Walzer, Obligations: Essays on Disobedience, War, and Citizenship (Cambridge, Mass., I970), informs this definition of liberalism. See also Lance Banning, "Jeffersonian Ideology Revisited: Liberal and Classical Ideas in the New American Republic," WMQ, 3d Ser., XLIII (i986), II-I2, i8.

85. Bohstedt, "Myth of the Feminine Food Riot"; Lewis, "Republican Wife," 693.

86. Much of the debate regarding the term has focused on the early national era. See Banning, "Jeffersonian Ideology Revisited," 3-I9, and Joyce 0. Appleby, "Republicanism in Old and New Contexts," WMQ, 3d Ser., LXIII (i986), 20-34.

87. On the gendered nature of republican citizenship see Stephanie McCurry, "The Two Faces of Republicanism: Gender and Proslavery Politics in Antebellum South Carolina," Journal of American History, LXXVIII (I992), I245-I264. On other essential exclusions see Edmund S. Morgan, American Slavery, American Freedom: The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia (New York, I 975), and Walzer, Obliga-tions. Rioters' "embeddedness" in a community was itself a construct, however; such "communities" themselves were constructed and sometimes elastic entities, a fact brought home by the prominence of sailors in prewar patriot crowds. I am indebted to Marcus Rediker for this observation.

88. Information about Old World food riots appeared in the American press. See Tilly, "Collective Action in England and America," 6o-6i. "A Hint from Mobil-ity," Boston Gaz., Apr. 26, 1776, portentously noted European traditions of rioting against flour engrossers.

89. Bernard Bailyn, The Origins of American Politics (New York, i968).

90. Sean Wilentz, "Introduction: Teufelsdr6ckh's Dilemma: On Symbolism, Pol-itics, and History," in Wilentz, ed., Rites of Power: Symbolism, Ritual, and Politics Since the Middle Ages (Philadelphia, i985), 4-5, notes that all political rhetoric contains contradictory meanings and that different groups and individuals attach different meanings to the same rhetoric. See Timothy Breen, "Narrative of Commercial Life: Consumption, Ideology, and Community on the Eve of the American Revolution," WMQ, 3d Ser., L (I993), 47 I-50i. This important article appeared too late for me to take account of it in the body of this essay; however, here I will note a few points of agreement and divergence between us. Like Breen's essay, this article questions whether the "republican synthesis" adequately describes the purposes and meanings of the Revolution. Breen and I agree that nonimportation and nonconsumption pacts centrally defined the patriot resistance between 1765 and 1775 and that those pacts linked everyday experience to ideology. Yet "Commercial Narrative" characterizes the "public" so created as liberal, expressive of largely bourgeois ideals of virtue, and emerging from a broad acceptance of commerce and consumption within the capitalist market. As I hope is clear in this essay, the often coercive, plebeian, and anticommercial elements of popular involvement in the patriot movement suggest that ordinary men and women derived their political ideas not only from "a new consumer marketplace" but also from experience within local networks of exchange and the forms and values of Anglo-American plebeian politics.

91. Davis and Benson to Welcome Arnold, June I9, 1779, Arnold-Greene Correspondence, Box i, Welcome-Arnold Papers, John Carter Brown Library, Providence, R. I.; Welcome Arnold to John Wiley, Aug. 30, 1779, ibid. See also John Clarke to Timothy Pickering, Oct. 2I, 1779, Timothy Pickering Papers, Mass. Hist. Soc. For renewed price control activity in New England in 1779 see Smith, "Politics of Price Controls," chap. 7, and Buel, "Committee Movement of 1779."

92. 0n social formulations of economic life in the new republic see Christopher Clark, Roots of Rural Capitalism; Bogin, "Petitioning and the New Moral Econo-my," 39I-425; James A. Henretta, "The Transition to Capitalism in America," in Henretta, Kammen, and Katz, eds., Transformation of Early American History, 2i8-237; Merrill, "The Anticapitalist Origins of the United States," Review-A Journal of the Fernand Braudel Center, XIII (I990), 465-498; Countryman, "The Uses of Capital in Revolutionary America: The Case of the New York Loyalist Merchants," WMQ, 3d Ser., XLIX (I 992), 3-28; Wilentz, Chants Democratic:N ew York City and the Rise of the American Working Class, 1788-i850 (New York, i984); Ronald Douglas Schultz, "Thoughts Among the People: Popular Thought, Radical Politics, and the Making of Philadelphia's Working Class, 1765-i828" (Ph.D. diss., University of California, Los Angeles, i985); and Nash, "Artisans and Politics in Eighteenth-Century Philadelphia," in Jacob and Jacob, eds., Origins of Radicalism, I 62-I82.

93. Christine Stansell, City of Women: Sex and Class in New York, 1789-i860 (New York, i986); Mary P. Ryan, Women in Public: Between Banners and Ballots, i825-i880 (Baltimore, I990).



1775 May-June Providence, Rhode Island "The People" seize flour.[95]

1776 July Longmeadow, Crowd confronts merchants of Massachusetts West Indian goods.[96]

July Longmeadow, Two crowds seize goods from Massachusetts Samuel Colton.[97]

August Kingston, New York Women's crowd surrounds committee chamber, demanding tea.[98]

August 13 Fishkill, New York Women's crowd seizes tea from Alderman Lefferts.[99]

October New York "Many riotous proceedings" against tea merchants. 100 October- Dorchester County, "A number of People" seize 14 1/2 November Maryland bushels salt.[101]

October- Dorchester County, "Several Companys" seize salt.[102]

November Maryland November Kingston, New York "Mobs" and "outrages" to seize tea. 103

November Dutchess County, Crowds seize and search food New York wagons. 104

December Salem, Massachusetts Inhabitants threaten merchant John

White for high tea prices. 105 December(?) Talbot County, 17 men with muskets seize salt.[106]

Maryland 1777

April 19 Boston, Massachusetts A "Concourse ... of 500" led by Joyce, Jr., carts monopolists out of town. 107

April 28 Marblehead and Salem, "Quarrel" for bread at the Massachusetts bakers. 108

April 28 Salem, Massachusetts "Scramble" for coffee at the wharf. 109

Mid-May Poughkeepsie, About 22 women and 3 New York Continental soldiers seize tea from Peter Messier's wife. Next day 15 women and 1 soldier seize tea from Peter Messier. 2 days later About 16 men and 20 women seize Messier's tea again. 110

July New Windsor, New Women's crowd-or "men and York women"-seize tea.[111]

July Boston, Massachusetts "Much rout and Noise" in the town; crowds seize coffee and sugar. 1 12

July 22 Salem, Massachusetts Crowd demands sugar and "the stores are opened."11 3

July 24 Boston, Massachusetts Women's crowd seizes coffee from Thomas Boylston. 114

July 24 Copp's Hill, Boston, "Ladies mob again."1115

Massachusetts July Salem, Massachusetts Crowd beats a countryman for refusing paper money for meat. 116

August East Hartford, About 20 women and 3 men take Connecticut sugar from Mr. Pitkin's store.[117]

September 16 Boston, Massachusetts Crowd carts monopolizers out of town.[118]

November Beverly, Massachusetts About 60 women and a few men seize sugar. 119

November- Nine Partner's Precinct, Crowd led by local committee to December New York seize salt.[120]

November- New York Crowd against John Hathorn for December salt.[121]

"The latter end Boston, Massachusetts 500 from North End seize Jonathan of 1777" Amory's sugar. 122


Fall Boston, Massachusetts Bostonians demand bread from French baker.[123]

September Cambridge, Watertown, Crowd helps local committees and Newton, prevent export of goods. 124



March? Virginia "Measures by . . . the MOB"125

March Boston, Massachusetts Crowd breaks into merchant's store. 126

May 25 Philadelphia, Men with clubs visit shopkeepers Pennsylvania and force lower prices. 127 May 25 Philadelphia, Crowds "arrest" and jail three price Pennsylvania gougers.[128]

October 4 Philadelphia, Militiamen march on house of Pennsylvania James Wilson. 129

94 I have tabulated the 37 riots listed in the appendix in a conservative way, counting New York's "many riotous proceedings" of late I776 as only one instance, for example. Undoubtedly, there were more riots in the new American states than the ones I have located. Newspapers, many publishing sporadically in wartime, reported only some incidents; government and local committee records noted a few more; accounts of others appear in private diaries or correspondence. There is some difficulty in deciding what events qualify as riots; limited evidence prevents me from counting some occurrences that may have been crowd actions. For example, William Pynchon of Salem, who was unsympathetic to price rioters, recorded that his neighbor's sugar was "stolen" just two days before Salem inhabitants rioted over bread in I777. See Oliver, ed., Diary of William Pynchon,

Moreover, successful negotiations could make riots unnecessary, as when a dealer lowered prices or a supplier marketed goods in response to crowd pressure or in anticipation of it. My tally of wartime riots includes a handful of occasions when "the people" confronted dealers but did not seize goods; it does not tap the undoubtedly numerous but less visible occasions when a few spokespeople must have visited offending retailers and successfully negotiated over price and avail- ability. These 30-odd riots were the visible moments that testify to widespread values and practices.

95 In personal correspondence, Gov. Samuel Ward expressed his pleasure that, given the need for flour, "the People had the Spirit to Seize it"; Ward to Henry Ward, June I 5, I775, in Bernhard Knollenberg, ed., Correspondence of Governor Samuel Ward: May I775-Mar. I776 (Providence, R. I., I952), 47. That seizure may have had less to do with prices or the value of patriots' paper money than with keeping the flour from British troops or naval suppliers; however, some residents of Providence did begin refusing paper money at this same time; ibid., 6o-6i. A later threat of a crowd in Providence appears in Nathaniel Brown to William Foster, June 5, I777, Brown Papers, Miscellaneous File I77 5-I779, John Carter Brown Library.

96 Diary of Stephen Williams, July 23, 24, I776, bk. 9, II7, I2I-I22; "The Merchant Samuel Colton Documents," 27I-272.

97 Diary of Stephen Williams, I2I-I22. Colton's reply to the General Court, ca. Feb. I, I 78 I, Mass. Arch, 23I: I42-I44.

98 Sleight to the Provincial Congress of New York, Aug. 26, I776,J. Provincial Congress, New York, II, 590.

99 Constitutional Gaz., Aug. 26, I776, in Moore, ed., Diary of the American Revolution, I, 287.

100J. Provincial Congress, New York, I, 682.

101 Dorchester Committee to Maryland Council of Safety, Nov. I5, I776, Journal and Correspondence of the Council of Safety, I776, Archives of Maryland, XVI, 449-45 I-

102 Ibid.

103 Sleight to Provincial Congress, Nov. 23, I776,1. Provincial Congress, New York, I, 7I4.

104 Countryman, People in Revolution, I82.

1O5 "Extracts from Interleaved Almanacs kept by John White," 93.

Io6 John Gibson to the Maryland Council of Safety, Jan. 4, I 777, Journal and Correspondence of the Council of Safety, I776, Archives of Maryland, XVI, i6-i8.

107 Abigail Adams toJohn Adams, Apr. 20, I777, Adams Correspondence, II, 2 i8; Apr. I9, I777, "Boyle's Journal of Occurrences," I28; Forbes, Paul Revere, 328-329; Young, In the Streets of Boston, chap. 6. IO8 Oliver, ed., Diary of William Pynchon, 29. 1o9 Ibid. I IO "Minutes of the Committee ... for Detecting and Defeating Conspiracies in the State of New York," 30I-303; Jonathan Clark, "Problem of Allegiance in Revolutionary Poughkeepsie." Countryman, People in Revolution, i83; "Men and women" were both involved, according to J. Provincial Congress, New York, I, I007-I010. It is also possible that these were two different crowds against the same merchants.

112 Abigail Adams toJohn Adams, July 3 I, I777, Adams Correspondence, II, 295.

1I3 Oliver, ed., Diary of William Pynchon, 34.

1I4 Abigail Adams to John Adams, July 3I, I777, Adams Correspondence, II, 295-296: July 24, I777, "Boyle's Journal of Occurences," I29-I30.

1I5 Oliver, ed., Diary of William Pynchon, 34.

II,6 Ibid, 35.

I I 7Conn. Courant, Aug. I7, I777-

I I8 Sept. i6, I777, "Boyle's Journal of Occurrences," I30; James Warren to John Adams, Sept. I7, I777, Warren-Adams Letters, II, 368-369.

1I9 Stone, History of Beverly, 83-84.

120 Countryman, People in Revolution, i82.

121 Ibid.

122 "Measures taken in the Sugar Shortage." More on Amory's dealings with the town over sugar is in Boston Gaz., Nov. 3, I777.

123 Forbes, Paul Revere, 340.

124 Committees of Correspondence, Inspection, and Safety for Cambridge, Watertown, and Newton, Mass., to the General Court, Mass. Arch., i84: 228.

125 Conn. Courant, Mar. 30, I779, reported that "measures by a very respectable power, known by the appellation of the MOB, have produced a considerable contrary effect" on skyrocketing prices in Virginia. The absence of any reference to locations or other specifics raises the possibility that this report, included in a "Letter from a gentleman in Virginia," may be specious. Published accounts of the positive effects of food riots, actual or manufactured, may have encouraged crowds or discouraged price gouging locally.

126 Anne Rowe Cunningham, ed., Letters and Diary of John Rowe, Boston Mer- chant: I759-I762, I764-I779 (New York, i969; orig. pub. I903), 330. 1I27 Foner, Tom Paine, i66-i68.

128 Ibid.

129 Ibid., I76-I77; Alexander, "Fort Wilson Incident of I779"; Rosswurm, Arms, Country, and Class, chap. 7.



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Submitted by Steven. on January 24, 2012

Thanks for posting these articles, these look great!