By Jeannette Holland Austin (profile)
Edenton was a village established on the bay of Albemarle Sound in 1712 and many of the old Jacobean, Georgian, Federal, Greek Revival and Victorian architecture are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. From the beginning of the talk of the war for independence, the little coastal town of Edenton played a conspicuous and heroic part in the ensuring struggle. As early as 1765, when the oppressive rule of England reached its peak in the iniquitous Stamp Act, Edenton joined with the other Carolina towns in adopting resolutions expressing the strong indignation of her citizens at this Act of tyranny on the part of George III and his Parliament. In 1773 three of her prominent citizens, Joseph Hewes, Samuel Johnston and Edward Vail, were appointed on the Carolina Committee of Correspondence which wrote to the other colonies that North Carolina that Edenton was prepared to join them against the King and Parliament. When England wrote the famous Port Bill, Boston was on the verge of starvation. Joseph Hewes, a merchant of Edenton, who was later to play a prominent part in Revolutionary events in North Carolina, joined with John Harvey of Perquimans in collecting supplies and provisions from the patriotic people of Albemarle, which they sent in the sloop Penelope to their distressed compatriots in far away Boston. The donation was received graciously by the inhabitants of that city, and a letter of thanks was issued from the Boston Committee to the donors for their generosity. One of the most notable events in the Revolutionary annals of Edenton was the Edenton Tea Party, held at the home of Mrs. Elizabeth King on October 25, 1774. This famous gathering of the Edenton women was convened for the purpose of protesting against the tax on tea and for endorsing the work of the first Convention which had met at New Bern in August, 1774. Before the meeting adjourned these brave and patriotic women had drawn up resolutions firmly declaring their intention to drink no more of the taxed tea, and to uphold and encourage in every possible way the men of the colony in their struggle to gain all the rights due them as British subjects.
The Cupola House, Edenton, North Carolina. News of the bold stand taken by the Edenton women spread to the colonly newspapers, as well as those in England. Arthur Iredell of London, the brother of James Iredell of Edenton who married the sister of Samuel Johnston, upon hearing of the event, noted that it had caused a considerable stir in London, as well as throughout the thirteen Colonies. Iredell wrote to his brother from his home in London the following letter:
"I see by the papers the Edenton ladies have signalized themselves by their protest against tea drinking. The name of Johnston I see among them. Are any of my sister's relatives patriotic? I hope not, for we English are afraid of the male Congress; but if the ladies should attack us, the most fatal consequences are to be dreaded. So dextrous in the handling of a dart, each wound they give is mortal, while we, so unhappily formed by nature, the more we strive to conquer them, the more we are conquered. The Edenton ladies, conscious of this superiority on their side by former experiences, are willing to crush us into atoms by their omnipotency. The only security on our side, to prevent impending ruin is the probability that there are few places in America which possess so much female artillery as Edenton. Pray let me know all the particulars when you favor us with a letter."
Source: In Ancient Albemarle by By Catherine Albertson, published by the North Carolina Society Daughters of the Revolution.
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