Female loyalists occupied a nearly impossible position during the American Revolution. Unlike their male counterparts, loyalist women were effectively silenced—unable to officially align themselves with either side or avoid being persecuted for their family ties. In this book, Kacy Dowd Tillman argues that women’s letters and journals are the key to recovering these voices, as these private writings were used as vehicles for public engagement. Through a literary analysis of extensive correspondence by statesmen’s wives, Quakers, merchants, and spies, Stripped and Script offers a new definition of loyalism that accounts for disaffection, pacifism, neutralism, and loyalism-by-association. Taking up the rhetoric of violation and rape, this archive repeatedly references the real threats rebels posed to female bodies, property, friendships, and families. Through writing, these women defended themselves against violation, in part, by writing about their personal experiences while knowing that the documents themselves may be confiscated, used against them, and circulated.
"Stripped and Script breaks new ground by introducing a framework for interpreting a collection of worthwhile authors and texts that demonstrate the variety and vitality of manuscript writing in the eighteenth century."—Desirée Henderson, author of Grief and Genre in American Literature, 1790–1870
"Stripped and Script makes a significant contribution to the fields of early American literature, personal writings, women’s history, and Revolutionary War history. Tillman closely examines a trove of archival material, giving it coherence by looking at it through the lens of rhetorical performance in the context of the Revolutionary War."—Karen A. Weyler, author of Empowering Words: Outsiders and Authorship in Early America
"Tillman’s deft and sympathetic readings foreground the women's fascinating individual stories. In illuminating the political perspicacity and generic ingenuity of these women, Tillman’s book reminds one of how easily the voices of dissent can be obscured in the push to craft a unifying national story"—CHOICE