Remembering Betsy Ross

Remembering Betsy Ross - Marcy Tilton Fabrics
As America celebrates freedom this week, it’s important to remember the role that women played. From seamstresses to spies, the fight for freedom was fueled in no small part by the efforts of a generation of women who were still considered their husband's property under the law.

In 1765 a group of revolutionary women including the soon-to-be first 'First Lady’ Martha Washington founded the Daughters of Liberty. They began a boycott of British goods and spearheaded production of domestic textiles, arguably one of the nascent nation’s first major practical steps toward true independence from royal rule.

But one woman, in particular, is remembered most—Betsy Ross. One of 17 children, Betsy fell in love with a fellow sewing apprentice and eloped to New Jersey which was quite the scandal in her Pennsylvania Quaker community. Very soon after she became a young widow who inherited her husband’s business.

According to a speech by her grandson at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania years after her life, Betsy’s upholstery shop was visited in the summer of 1776 by George Washington and two other members of the Continental Congress. They came carrying a sketch for a new flag for the fledgling democracy, and the rest is history, or should we rather say herstory.

The practice of coverture in colonial America meant that legally an unmarried woman could not own a business, unless widowed. So starting in her twenties, Betsy became one of the first female business owners in what was soon to become a new nation. Shockingly, it wasn’t until 1988 with the passage of the Women Business Ownership Act, that women were free to found an enterprise without a male co-signer. Marcy Tilton Fabrics was formed just over a decade later.

So as we sew this summer season, let’s remember Betsy and the many unsung heroines who championed the cause of freedom long before we had it.

More Posts