Date of Degree

6-2022

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

History

Advisor

David Waldstreicher

Committee Members

Benjamin Carp

Andrew Robertson

Sarah Knott

Subject Categories

Diplomatic History | Political History | United States History | Women's History

Keywords

women, early America, diplomacy, politics, England, France, letters, revolution, aristocracy, republicanism

Abstract

"'Thus Much for Politicks': American Women, Diplomacy, and the Aftermath of the American Revolution," examines the diplomatic and political activities of elite early American women abroad in Europe during the Age of Revolutions. This dissertation analyzes the diplomacy and politics of five women— Sarah Livingston Jay, Abigail Adams, Abigail (Nabby) Adams Smith, Ruth Baldwin Barlow, and Mary Stead Pinckney— who were abroad in Europe after the American Revolution. The analysis focuses on several themes to understand their actions abroad including politics and political intrigue; money and economic diplomacy; social networks; republicanism, aristocracy, and national identity; and letter writing itself. Their correspondence to friends and family at home and abroad serves as the primacy sources for understanding and learning about their politicking.

In the aftermath of the American Revolution as the United States established itself as a postcolonial nation, elite American women abroad relied on aristocratic methods of politicking and diplomacy. This project brings together political, diplomatic, and women's and gender history by situating each woman in international and diplomatic contexts, as well as their particular regional and familial backgrounds. My dissertation examines each woman's individual agency and the networks she created abroad to influence American foreign and domestic policy. I argue that it is impossible to fully understand the founding decades of the United States without studying the thoughts and actions of these influential women. I demonstrate how women's experiences politicking in Europe acted as a precursor to the elite women's political society in the capital cities of the early United States, also known as the Republican Court.

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