Americans Boycott English Cloth in Independence Tactic

On a writer from Ipswich, Massachusetts reported for the Essex Gazette on the campaign of American patriots to switch from English cloth to homespun American cloth as part of the swadeshi campaign leading to American independence:

It gives us a noble Prospect to see what a spirit of Industry and Frugality prevails at this day in the American young Ladies, and Generosity toward their Gospel ministers.

very early the young Ladies in that Parish of this Town called Chebacco, to the number of 77, assembled at the house of the Rev. Mr. John Cleaveland with their spinning wheels; and though the Weather was extremely hot, and divers of the young Ladies were but about 13 years of Age, yet by they spun of Linen Yarn, 440 Knots, and carded and spun of Cotton, 730 Knots, and of Tow 600, in all 1770 Knots, which make 177 ten-knot-skeins, all good yarn, and generously gave their Work and some bro’t Cotton and Flax with them, more than they spun themselves, as a Present…

After the Music of the Wheels was over, Mr. Cleaveland entertained them with a Sermon on Prov. 14:1, “Every wise Woman buildeth her house but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands,” which he concluded by observing, How the Women might recover to this Country the full and free Enjoyment of all our Rights, Properties and Privileges (which is more than the Men have been able to do), and so have the Honour of building not only their own but the houses of many Thousands and perhaps prevent the Ruin of the whole British empire viz. by living upon as far as possible only the Produce of the Country, and to be sure to lay aside the use of all foreign Teas. Also by wearing, as far as possible only Cloathing of this Country’s manufacture.

Their Behaviour was decent and they manifested nothing but Pleasure and Satisfaction in their Countenances at their retiring, as well as through the whole preceding Transactions of .

An earlier report in the same paper said that a family from Roxbury had carded, spun, and woven 645¾ yards of cloth over the previous calendar year, with 100 yards of yarn left over.

The following year, the paper reported from Middleton that (according to a summary in the book Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony) in the town of Middleton “there were between seventy and eighty looms in the ninety dwellings, and that , there were woven on these looms, 20,522 yards of cloth, more than 40 yards apiece for every man, woman and child.”

That book also reprints excerpts from a the report of the committee of an Ipswich town meeting held on :

Taking under consideration the Distrest State of Trade of this Government, (and the Whole Continent by Reason of a Late Act of Parliament Imposing Duties on Tea, Glass, etc.) … Voted, that we are Determined to Retrench all Extravagances and that we will to the utmost of our Power & Ability Encourage our own Manufactures and that we will not by ourselves or any for or under us Directly or Indirectly Purchase any Goods of the Persons who have Imported or Continue to Import or any Person or Trader who shall Purchase any Goods of said Importer Contrary to the agreement of the Merchants in Boston and the other Trading Towns in this Government & the neighboring Colonies Until they make a Publick Retraction or a Genl Importation Takes Place.

And Further taking under Consideration the Excessive Use of Tea, which has been such a bane to this Country.

Voted that we will abstain therefrom ourselves & Recommend the Disuse of it in our Familys Untill all the Revenue Acts are Repealed.

The issue of The Advance profiled John Clifford, who had come to the United States to work on anti-war causes, but who had also been involved in a tax resistance campaign protesting taxpayer-funded sectarian education in England. Excerpt:

“Every quarter the tax collector takes some of my goods and sells them because I will not pay the rate for the education of Roman Catholics or Anglicans [Clifford was a Baptist]. I presume that some of my goods are being sold now, and some of my brethren are being put into prison, because we will not pay the rate.” And with his eyes flashing, like the eyes of a Boston Tea Party man, and with clenched fist, he repeated, “But I will not pay the rate.” (prolonged applause. The spirit of still lives.)

I’ve hunted in vain for any indication that Clifford tried to introduce the tactic of tax resistance to the anti-war movement of the day.