Penelope’s Act of Civil Disobedience

A Very Bold Move!


(Elmwood Inn Fine Teas)

Tired of the British taxing the colonists, while not letting them have a say in the government – taxation without representation – Penelope wrote a public statement in which she endorsed a boycott of tea and other British products.

Now…The custom of tea drinking was deeply instilled in the lives of the colonists. Every home had a proper tea service and social occasions were often defined by the amount of tea provided. Swearing off tea was no small matter.

However, In Fall of 1774…

She visited more than fifty homes, and invited the ladies to a very special tea party to be held at the home of a Mrs. Elizabeth King on October 25, 1774. At this soon to be infamous party (later be called The Edenton Tea Party), Penelope asked the women to sign a letter that she had addressed to King George stating, “she would not drink any more tea, nor wear any more British cloth.” By signing this petition, these women were committing treason, but they proudly identified themselves with their signature.

Remember the Petition was Sent to King George…

This blatant act of civil disobedience was one of the earliest organized women’s political actions in United States history. Penelope Barker and 50 other women became the signers of the Resolutions of the Edenton Tea Party. This bold and daring act of defiance, gave other women in the colonies the courage to take a stand with more “tea parties” popping up all over.  It was said that in Wilmington, Delaware, ladies there actually set fire to their tea! Does this sound familiar? Boston Tea Party perhaps?

Penelope to further fuel the “fire “of discontent, sent the proclamation to a London newspaper, confident that the women’s stance would cause a stir in England. And boy did it!   British journalists and cartoonists depicted the women in a negative light, as bad mothers and loose women, but the Patriots in America praised the women for their stance.

Instead of English Tea…

The women brewed herbal teas from rosemary, lavender, thyme, chamomile, sage, mint, and lemon balm. American tea was also made from raspberry leaves and stalks of whorled loosestrife plant. Liberty Tea often included red rose petals, linden blossoms, elder, red clover, violets and goldenrod. Special flavor additions came from sassafras, willow tree bark, the twigs of sweet gum, fennel and dill seeds, and the fruits of the rosebush, called rosehips. Liberty tea remained popular even after the British tea taxes were no longer an issue.

Penelope Pagett Hodgson Craven Barker Died…

In 1796, at the age of 66, was a loyal patriot of the American Revolution. Penelope’s famous tea party is remembered with a huge bronze teapot mounted on a cannon west of Village Green in Edenton. It has become a symbol of Edenton and its revolutionary women.

barker tea pot


Next… Bi Lo Chun


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