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1738 In one of the most stunning examples of how the pressures of colonial life can reveal the full range of the gender role women can fill, Eliza Lucas Pinckney, at age 16, assumes control of her family’s plantation near Charles Town, South Carolina. Dubai Subway Map Her father is recalled to the island of Antigua in the West Indies for military service during one of Britain’s wars with Spain and France. When he is made governor there, Eliza is left to care for her younger sister and their sickly mother.

By the time she marries a widowed judge, Charles Pinckney, in 1744, she has taught her sister and two of their black slaves how to read and write and has single-handedly revolutionized the agricultural industry of South Carolina by developing a hybrid variety of the indigo plant. The war has greatly increased the demand for the blue dye made from indigo, whereas it has stifled the colony’s primary export, rice. Pinckney’s letters and journals describe daily life and gender relations in great detail. Her sons will become generals and heroes of the Revolutionary War: Charles, a framer of the Constitution, and Thomas, the ambassador to Spain and Britain who negotiates the critical 1795 Treaty of San Lorenzo (Pinckney’s Treaty). Eliza Lucas Pinckney may be the first European agriculturalist, male or female, in North Country.

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