Skip to main content

tv   Revolutionary War Era Clothing Tailors  CSPAN  June 5, 2020 5:09pm-6:12pm EDT

5:09 pm
thank you. [ applause ] >> announcer: tonight on american history tv, a look at the american revolution beginning at 8:00 p.m. eastern. military historian gregory urwin talks about the challenges that the british army faced in adapting to north american terrain and battle tactics during the revolutionary war. his remarks were at an international conference cohosted by the museum of the american revolution, pritzker library. watch american history tv tonight and over the weekend on cspan3. >> revolutionly war uniforms are still used in military events today. we take a look at tailors in 18th century virginia. you'll hear about the writings of a tailor who was active between 1763 and 1782 who kept
5:10 pm
notes on his clothes meant for meaningful moments in citizens' lives and it helped prepare the community for revolution. the emerging war blog, cohosted this event. >> we saved the best for last. she hates me for saying that. we're concluding with a topic that's close to home here in alexandria. catherine gruber is the special curator. and earned her bachelor's from university of washington and ma from the college of william and mary. she has contributed to the new revolutionary war museum at yorktown, a special exhibition
5:11 pm
curator, she helped with ten nas tee, william in jamestown in virginia, which i urge you to see and also forgotten soldier, african-americans in the revolution, open now through march 22nd, 2020. kate will present her topic, a tailor made revolution. so please welcome my good friend, kate gruber. >> good afternoon. so you've got to get through me before we can get to happy hour, so i promise i'll make that happen. mark twain said it best, clothes make the man. naked people have little to know influence on society. but mark twain also said the more i learn about people, the more i like my dog. so maybe we shouldn't exactly take his word for it. also, he dressed like this.
5:12 pm
so why don't we go to the british author, robert campbell, who wrote in 1747 no man is ignorant that the tailor is the one who makes our clothes, to some he not only makes their dress, but in some measure may be said to make themselves flt so in short, clothes make the man. and in 18th century, in the 18th century, people really had a relationship with their clothing. a relationship or at least a knowledge of the tradesmen, the women, the merchants, seamstresses and slaved africans and those who had a role in producing or importing the clothing. this was true for alexandria, virginia, right here on the eve of the revolution. the residents of 18th century alexandria were part of a world that defined itself by adherence to strict hierarchies and orders and clothing and textile consumption presented a dichotomy, which was based on
5:13 pm
choice and the nature of the tailor's trade. so today i want to take you on a journey. a journey through 18th century alexandria. a city on the eve of revolution. our time machine is the only known surviving account book from a virginia tailor in the colonial and pre-revolution period. can everyone hear me okay? so utilizing this account book as our guy, my goal this afternoon is to give you just a glimpse of pre-revolution engineer alexandria through the lens of how its residents acquired clothing and the lives they lived in their clothes. hopefully what will emerge is a more complete picture of a city on the eve of revolution and how the simple everyday act of dressing had revolutionary consequences, or at the very least eliminate what some of alexandria's society wore to the
5:14 pm
revolution. so we're going to get started right away. william carlin served the residents of alexandria as a tailor from 1763 to 1782. as the only known surviving account book from a virginia tailor from this colonial period, carlin's records offer a very rare and unique insight into the world of consumerism material culture, a world in which zathey were deeply entrenched. his account book has the names of 130 customers who entered his shop to shop and have clothing made. it flourished after its founding in 1979 when the virginia house of burgesss in williamsburg, they proposed, thank you, yes, william and mary -- i invite public participation in this presentation, so any time, just go for it. thank you. so the house of burgesses
5:15 pm
proposed an act for erecting a town in the county of fairfax. so as a court town and you guys are realizing i am literally preaching to the choir here, alexandria thrived on imports and exports. they exported quite a lot of tobacco. tobacco and wheat of course across the atlantic in exchange for other goods like rum, sugar and fashionable luxuries. factors that we've also heard about today, operated stores and warehouses for scottish and english merchants who imported the goods across the atlantic. eventually all of those goods made their way right here to alexandria. and by 1776, the city had a population of just under 2,000 in has been tents. that population would grow to about 5,000 by 1800. the residents of alexandria then were shipbuilders, carpenters, march ents, blacksmiths and
5:16 pm
enslaved african-americans, tavern keepers and white indentured servants also found themselves here. many were immigrants from england and scotland and one of them was a tailor named william carlin. we don't have a portrait of william carlin, so in my mind this is how i imagine him. i'm going to let that sink in for a moment. sort of middle-aged, short and maybe a round figure. perhaps working on a bald spot or a receding hairline from excessive worry that his lines weren't quite right. but given the moments towards handmade goods and things sourced from local materials and now of course realize that carlin was ruffoughly the same as i am now, i certainly picture him a little bit more like this.
5:17 pm
to be fair, how about that? so unfortunately i haven't been able to uncover too much about carlin's life before he began his account book here. according to family histories, carlin was born in 1732, near a place in yorkshire in england. he then lived in london before immigrating to virginia. i don't know yet whether he completed his apprenticeship as a tailor in england or virginia. probably in england. but he was 31 years old when he made his first notations in a new account book in 1763. so by then alexandria was a power base for emerging gentry who owns plantations, including influential planters like george washington and george mason who lived within only a few miles of the city center. merchants set up shops and made up most of the city's population. a family history states that
5:18 pm
carlin's shop was located on the corner of king and royal streets. guess what, guys? we get to walk right by it when we go to happy hour. here's a handy little directional map for you. spent some time last night saying hello. it's a sur la table right now, conveniently located next to a subway. i told my husband that's why he was so young and thin. so you can see that carlin's shop was very prominently located in the city's developing downtown. it must have been a visible feature on the landscape and customers didn't have to travel too far to visit the shop from the places where they themselves worked or lived. so of the customers in carlin's account book where i've identified where they've lived, and it's a lot. no one was actually more than one mile away from carlin's tailor shop and that includes george mason who owned a
5:19 pm
townhouse about 200 feet from carlin's shop and george washington's townhouse is less than half a mile away at 508 cameron street, which is -- i guess that's north, which is not on the map but it would be just off this map here. so merchants and tradesmen like carlin were crucial links to gentry planters like mason and washington who really needed these luxury items, silks, linens, wools and cottens that would provide props for their social performance of dominance. carlin supplied the men of alexandria with many of these props that they needed to perform this act. but the account book actually reveals that the customers who patronized carlin's shop were a reflection of the city's demographics as a whole, which is fascinating. before we can fully comprehend all of that, we need to talk a little bit about the relationship of the tailor to his clientele in the form of the
5:20 pm
aptly coined art and mystery of the tailor's trade. this is important. so george washington, we've talked a lot about george washington today, when he ordered slits a ordered suits, he included the language the livery suits must be taken of men as nearest their size as you can judge. the servants are 5'9" and 5'4" height and proportionately made. so these were instructions that were essential communications to a tailor. if you were expecting him to construct a hand sewn fitted garment. so it's important to remember here that until the very recent past, hand sewn clothing is not a luxury item that we associate it as today. it's actually just the simple fact of clothing construction. until the mid 19th century, sand sewn remained the standard mode
5:21 pm
of production for any garment, whether it's wearer was a wealthy member of the gentry, a middle artisan or enslaved. so men and women in the 18th century were familiar with a needle and thread and they could probably make some simple repairs, maybe some household items and linens as well. but fuller garments required the knowledge and skills of men and women who learned their trades through an apprenticeship with a master tailor. so articles such as breaches, coats and waistcoats, they fit closely and precisely to the body. they required the skills of a tailor to construct. the skill laid in his ability to fit and measure and cut garments for a man. this is just men here actually. i wanted to make a quick point. i'm talking about men being customers because women's garment construction was completely different. happy to talk about that at the q&a. these are just men and men's garments here, with rare
5:22 pm
exceptions. it's the 18th century corset. most lacked the ability to construct their own clothing, somewhere along the line they really needed to utilize the skills of a tailor at some point. even the virginia company included a tailor in the first expedition to jamestown in 1607. they sent six more tailors to the colony in 1806, making them most one of the most represented. and if you know anything that happens in 1607, the fact that their predominant preoccupation was we need more tailors, that says a lot. okay? they're not eating, but got to look good. so that trend actually holds up throughout the 18th century. in the virginia gazette, tailor's advertisements make up 6% of total tradesmen's
5:23 pm
advertisements from 1736 to 1780. only third behind tutors and doctors. in alexandria where carlin is, of course, a distribution of the city's occupations from 1764 to 1800 reveals that 20% of local artisans were involved in the clothing crafts and just like in 17th century jamestown, it's second to those employed in the construction trades. so this is an important part of our everyday life in society. and this overwhelming number of tailors on the landscape speaks to their necessity in a society where individuals did not routinely make their own clothing. so why were tailors and their skills so important to communities like alexandria? according to one 18th century source, a tailor must be skillful enough to, quote, bestow a good shape where nature has not designed it. to accomplish this, a tailor needed to take systematic
5:24 pm
measurements across a man's body, detailed measurements. so may i have a volunteer from the audience, please, who knows french? there's got to be somebody. thank you. because i don't want to butcher this on cspan. please, ma'am, if you could read the title of this book for me, please. [ applause ] >> do you see why i didn't want to tackle that? i took latin. i am useless. so thank you for saving me from that embarrassment. this is a 1769 treatise on the art of tailoring and it chronicles 20 different measurements needed on a man's body in order to construct a well-fitted and well-cut suit. so the author has written in english, thankfully, a tailor
5:25 pm
must take the measurements of a person for whom the clothes are going to be made. a strip of paper, one inch wide of the requisite length is used. it is called a measurer. it is placed on the body wherever the size is required and each measurement is marked by a snip of the scissors. so these careful measurements ensured that the finished garment would fit the customer properly and the way garments fit a man's body was as important as his fabric choice. so george washington's relationship with clothing provides a really fun lens to explore the importance of cut and fit even further. when washington sent orders for clothes to london tailors, he consistently noted his large size and lanky stature. he was the tallest in continental congress. we learned that today. so he knew that these details were necessary in the construction of fitted clothing, so in an order for a suit, washington wrote to charles lawrence, let it be fit in other respects for a man full 6 feet
5:26 pm
high and proportionately made. further correspondence from washington to london reveals that washington was not satisfied with the quality of the garments that he received. i have had my clothes made by one charles lawrence, but whether it is the fault of the tailor or of the measure sent, but my clothes have never fit me very well. so to eradicate his own frustrations with poorly fitted garments that he was receiving from london, washington turned to our hero, william carlin. washington brought to carlin's shop coats that needed mending, beeches and suits that needed altering, with washington standing as his own modden, carlin would lengthen the beeches and restore an appropriate shape to the tall and proportionately made gentleman. carlin charged washington one day altering our clothes to altering your gray coat, so on and so on. so as a gentleman in a prominent
5:27 pm
city -- i'm so sorry, you're going to have to look at george washington for a while. george washington was at the top of alexandria's social ladder, so he did warn his friends not to conceive that fine clothes make fine men any more than fine feathers make fine birds. he knew as his elite contemporaries did how to dress the part. so we've seen that washington turned to carlin to fix the mistake of london tailors, but he also came to the local tailor for making new clothes. washington ordered a variety of garments from carlin's hands, including coats, waistcoats, leggings and more formal attire. breaches were the most common garment and though he continued to place orders for suits and coats from his tailor in london, it seems that washington may have given up on charl lawrence's ability to accurately
5:28 pm
judge the height of his client for the purpose of making comfortable and sasclothing. wrote to him i think it is necessary to mention that i am full 6 feet high. i love how he just blames it on everybody else. like no, i'm not gaining weight at all. so again, carlin to the rescue. he provided washington with the fitted and very fashionable clothing that he needed in order to maintain his place in alexandria's complex and social ord order. revered and respected, washington's taste set the bar for the remainder of society who were seeking to emulate fashionable dress. so far we've explored washington's accounts with carlin but artisans, march ents and enslaved men also passed through the shop.
5:29 pm
the act of entering the tailor shop, the tailor space itself ensured that even for a brief moment, social mixing could be explored and experienced in this pre-revolutionary space, which was quite rare in this time. additionally the act of being measured and fit for clothing was something that all members of the social strata could experience. we are going to start exploring some of the other 130 members of alexandria's community who stepped inside the walls of carlin's shop and accounted for the over 2,000 transactions in that surviving account book. so though carlin constructed garments for washington and mason and the fairfax family, at least 38 members of alexandria's merchant class sought his talents as well. among the men is james kirk.
5:30 pm
hopefully someone that you have heard of. he's noted for hosting the british nick british, and john carlisle also was a frequent customer in carlin's shop. william carlin had a strong working relationship with the artisans of the city as well. so customers in this category represent a cross-section of the men who worked with their hands in dirty shops, such as black smith bill cooper, and silversmith charles turner. he produced 305 garments for alexandria's artisans, including 38 waistcoats, 36 coats and 17
5:31 pm
suits, with fabric choices that ranged from a sell vet suit for hatter to a country cloth suit for silversmith charles turner with silk waistcoats, and drab suits in between. so carlin also served other equally visible yet marginal members of alexandria's society, the enslaved african-americans and white indentured servants who worked on the plantations and in the homes, and in the workshops and tav earerns as we. he made clothing for artisans that made clothing for their apprentices. so builder james parsons purchased clothes for two of his apprentices. they would later train to become bricklayers. alexandria's free citizens also utilized a workforce of both
5:32 pm
white indentured servants and enslaved african-americans and many customers in carlin's accounts really have not been identified. i haven't been able to figure out who they are. and that's because at this time alexandria really relied heavily on white indentured servitude and it's possible to assert that many of these unidentified individuals were members of this social class here in alexandria. so just one example is alexandria merchant robert adam. he made purchases for himself and at least 12 other individuals that are only identified by their first name. sop it's possible that some of them were enslaved or otherwise somehow part of adams' working household. so further to this point, carlin's accounts provide an interesting view of how members of alexandria's enslaved community acquired clothing, as well as what they wore. the livery accounts for over 50% of the clothing that carlin
5:33 pm
produced for enslaved men, he constructed myriad garments for members of the enslaved community, as i mentioned, by alexandria's merchant population, too. interestingly, clothing made specifically for the enslaved members of alexandria's community account for over 10% of the total transactions in the account book as a whole and 37% of carlin's customers also purchased clothing for enslaved men, at the same time they purchased clothing for themselves. i should have mentioned to you that i'm a quantitative historian and i don't think i included that in my biography. i think that's the most math you're going to hear today. but the types of clothing that carlin produced for these men, it's typical of what any man would receive from his tailor. in all, carlin produced 90 coats, 58 pairs of breaches, 39 suits and 14 frocks, for
5:34 pm
enslaved men owned by other alexandria citizens. so i would like to do a bit of a deep dive here further into the clothing that carlin made for these enslaved members of alexandria's society because we really know precious little about this very prominent and visible part of the city's population. and through carlin's account book we gain so much more insight into their material lives on the eve of revolution. so carlin's accounts can help us understand the variety, the quantity and the life cycle of clothing within the broader lens of the material life of the enslaved. here we go. so joe, who is an enslaved man owned by silversmith charles jones appeared to have received clothing between 1772 and 1775. charles jones himself was a very infrequent customer of carlin's. but in 1772, joe received a coat and in 1775 carlin mended his leather breaches.
5:35 pm
leather breaches are like the blue jeans of the 18th century. so this is really interesting to me given the fact that joe's next appearance of any kind in the historic record is in virginia gazette. it's a run away advertisement and it's dated september 12th, 1777. the ad reads run away from the subscriber in fairfax county near alexandria, about the 10th of august. a young man named joe, 5'8" inch high, well made and hat on when he went away, a shirt and trousers, but may probably change his clothes. so we all too often -- how many of us have read advertisements like this. we all too often read these advertisements and we assume a run aways like joe stole clothing that didn't belong to them or maybe we never made attention to the statement would change his clothes anyway. but given joe's presence in
5:36 pm
carlin's account book, we might assume that joe had a small wardrobe, at least a coat and an additional pair of breeches. we now know something we didn't know about joe, that he was 16 years old when he entered the shop with his owner and received a new coat. by the time he was 19, he had a pair of leather breeches that needed mending. every little bit helps us to piece together the lives of someone like joe. without these little details, we wouldn't know that this man ever existed at all and i think that that's powerful. further to this point, charles jones points out that joe may attempt to enlist as a free man. remember, it's 1777. perhaps joe's wardrobe enabled him to better play the part of a free man instead of his actual run away stats that he was.
5:37 pm
so perhaps the clothes aided in his escape to freedom or perhaps his escape to fight for freedom of a country. the majority of clothing that carlin produced for enslaved men was in the form of livery, the formal customer made uniforms made by enslaved grooms, valets and other domestic staff in the plantation households. we're going to return to washington because washington was a frequent client of carlin when he needed the construction of livery for many of his domestic staff, including william lee or billy lee, his enslaved valet and long-time companion. so william or bobby lee came to mount vernon after washington purchased him from another estate in 1768. in 1769, he needed livery from carlin the tailor. this is right when he arrives t mount vernon. in the summer of that year carlin charged washington's account for making will livery,
5:38 pm
as well as putting pockets into and repairing the claret suit. possible also for william, because we know that washington's household livery, the livery of the washington household was red and white. so when we see claret in the account book, we can assume that might be for livery. so william lee arrived at mount vernon in 1868 when he was 18 years old. he received livery from carlin the tailor after a year of service at the estate and this was surely not his first suit of livery and it wouldn't be his last. so william makes another appearance in the accounts in june of 1771 and again carlin charges washington for making will livery coat and breeches. this time will was not alone in the account. he also made, quote, frank a suit, and nat a waistcoat and breeches. he was his younger brother who
5:39 pm
came in 1868. he served as a butler and was althou also funished with the livery. there were also four other men by the name of nat. this nat could have been a groom or another artisan on the property. carlin also charged washington for altering a pair of leather breeches for giles and he also was a recipient of two jackets and waistcoats that carlin producted in 1861. carlin's account with washington, it's really one of many accounts that can tell us much about the material life of alexandria's enslaved population. so consider this a pause in a much longer and much-needed conversation that should condition. and i have more, if you want to know more. so we've explored the when, the where and the who. let's get back to the clothes themselves and explore what does it all mean.
5:40 pm
well, for most of the 18th century, colonists were striving to emulate british style in all things. we thought of ourselves as british subjects and we really wanted to look and dress like them, too. we utilized the same textiles, colors and fashion al cuts that were prevalent across the atlantic. however dedicated to british fashion colonists may have been, virginia's climate forced change. william hugh grove remarked that they affected london dress in all times excepting summer months. so they constantly adapted to what passed for fashionable in response to the region's climate. members of the gentry even designed houses with central passageways which provided the home with necessary social sorting, but also a cool air flow throughout spaces. so when in august of 1774, how
5:41 pm
awful, arriving in august, he may not have been expecting to experience such a sweltering climate here. he said i would suppose you scarce not know me. i, being dressed in a short cloth coat, a vest coat and breeches all made of white cotton without any lining and thread stockings and wearing my own hair curled around like a wig. so it's painting a picture of the characteristics perceived of normal clothing, while also providing clues as to how they adapted their fashion to accommodate for the region's intense temperatures, which again is nothing knew to us. a young traveller received advice from his brother before embarking to virginia in 1765, quote, your clothing in the summer must be as thin as possible for the heat is beyond
5:42 pm
your conception. you must carry a stock of linen waistcoats made very large and loose so that they may not stick to your hide when you perspire. so carlin now how to clothe alexandrians for the heat. he specified the color might 44 times and that makes it the third most popular color of any garment to come out avenof a sh. carlin dropped them in white country cloth, drill, holland. these are all breathable, cotton and linen-based fabrics that will allow people to survive in this sweltering heat. carlin also produced clothing that in their descriptions were specifically for wear during the hot summer months, so he's making things that he's calling summer coats, summer suits, summer waistcoats. so all of these things indicating that we're dressing for the climate. so as unbearable as virginia's
5:43 pm
summer heat could be, virginia's winters could also be extremely bitter, believe it or not. in december of 1774, nicholas crestle, the englishman living with james kirk, he wrote that virginia's weather was, quote, exceeding cold and frosty and that the colony's winter was more severe than i have ever felt it in england. so perhaps crestle acquired winter garments similar to those carlin would make. carlin produced clothing that was specifically for wear during virginia's coldest months, including great coats, winter suits, winter coats and one great winter waistcoat, whatever that means. but carlin also constructed flannel drawers for george mason during a particularly cold november. so i'm really sorry if there's anyone here.
5:44 pm
so absorb that. so we're going to stick with mason's accounts here for a few moments. so thank you to that flannel for the traditional sentence. from 1764 to 1775, the transactions provide an interesting window into the ways in which clothing from carlin's account book marked life's passages. mason's clothing purchases for his sons further illustrate this point that clothing could mark -- they could celebrate life's milestones but acknowledge mortality and deep grief as well. so beginning in 1767, mason began may being purchases for his sons at the time he made purchases for himself. so they're all going in together as a family and making orders. so his oldest son george was 14 years old. william was 10 and thomas was 8 -- on excuse me, thompson was 8. young boys dressed in gowns and
5:45 pm
these gowns allowed children free range in movement but also accompanied their stays. it's the undergarment that gently taught boys and girls proper upright posture that probably none of us are really displaying today. so boys stopped wearing their stays at the time of their transition from gowns to breeches, which occurred sometime between the age of 4 and 8. so somewhere in that range. again, i've mentioned the textile historian that has a great quote, the change from petty coats to breeches was a big event. it symbolized growing up and going into the male domain. so moving into what is going to become an adult male life. so march 18th, 1772, may have been that big day for mason's
5:46 pm
youngest son john, who entered carlin's tailor shop for a coat and breeches. he writes hair bone, but rooiit probably a silk fabric that was typical at this time for men's clothing. so born on april 4th, 1766, this event occurred shortly before john's 6th birthday. so together with the age at which john first appears in the account book and taking that into consideration with his family's long pay patronage. it's likely this signifies john's entrance into manhood. this is probably his first suit. this is probably that moment he's being breeched. he would grow up in become a successful banker and his adult life begins right around the corner in william carlin's tailor shop. as a young child john then
5:47 pm
learned that his adult life could systematically begin in a tailor shop, but one year later he learns that clothing could signify death as well. when his mother ann died in childbirth in march of 1773, the masons went into a period of mourning. it's similar to other social customs in virginia, this necessitated specific social props and in this case black crepe mourning suits. carlin charged mason's account for, quote, making your suit of mourning, making your son george's suit, making son william and thompson a suit each, and may being son john a suit of crepe, making man james a suit. so only one year after john received his first suit of clothes, he received mourning attire as well. at barely 7 years old, young john learned of the role that clothing would play in life and
5:48 pm
in death. thankfully, the mourning is not the only life event. the accounts note that he produced two wedding suits, one for alexandria charles alexander and another for attorney robert hansen harrison, though there are no clues to tell us what these suits may have looked like. carlin's account book illustrates that clothing functioned beyond a basic necessity and to protect one's self from the climate, clothing was life and could signify life's rites of passage. while the majority of the paper was focused on the clothing, i do want to point out that the account book is evidence that all of alexandria's social strata found themselves at some point in and amongst the walls of carlin's shop. by the time he set up his shop
5:49 pm
in alexandria, the colonies were well entrenched in the american revolution and the consumer revolution. so though society was heavily stratified on the basis of wealth and property ownership, the revolution and production, marketing and credit made it possible for more people to purchase goods than ever before. so beyond that -- or before that credit crisis that faced london banks in 1772 that we've chatted about a lot this morning, credit was widely available and easily accessible to a lot of people who asked for it. in alexandria like many other city centers, one certainly did not need to be a member of the gentry elite to shop like one. so their tastes for finery also extended to their wardrobes. nowhere is this more evident than in carlin's account book. the orders that carlin took on credit reflect the needs of a people who once were dressing for success and dressing to impress. though colonial virginia's population was deeply stratified, even the lowest
5:50 pm
classes of society desired to attain a higher quality of life and many yerarned to emulate their social betters. a strong emulation in all ofstas perpetual restless ambition and near the inferior ranks should raise themselves to the level of those immediately above them. i think she would've said that and probably has said that and down now be. this is actually an 18th century quote. in addition to that consumer revolution, customers in carlin 's shop had another revolution on their mind, the reason why we are here today, the american revolution. the course of only a few years we's desire to maintain their british nunes consuming what one historian says -- has given way to their need to be politically proactive. showing their discontent with parliament and this is parliament, not the king,
5:51 pm
showing the discontent with parliament resulted in various measures, not in which -- of british goods including the yard goods and ready made clothing needed that they needed to perform those social acts. this desire to enact patriotism via consumption or lack thereof was fervent especially in alexandria. when george washington circulated copies of the fairfax county non importation agreement, which was written in 1770, william carlin sewed, cut, and stitched together fabrics not only imported from great britain but around the world. the colonists desire to stand up to britain by a lack of consumption stood to drastically impact carlin's tailoring business, that makes sense right? yeah, we're all wrong, because that didn't happen. the in which carlin the received the most business, the activity of his customers and the gentleman who signed the fairfax county non importation
5:52 pm
agreement, is clear to see that the revolutionary fervor did not have a negative impact on carlin, as a matter of fact, 1770 is this guy's busiest year. it's unbelievable, right? so of the members in the planter and merchant elite who signed that not importation agreement in fairfax county, at least eight were active extremely active customers of william carlin, including john adult in, peter wagner, george mason, william runcie, william feldman, robert adam and jon west juniors, these are prominent alexandria and fairfax county names. as a fairfax agreement renounced all importation of commodities from britain including fabric and textiles, one would assume that carlin's business would show symptoms of a population cutting back on conspicuous consumption. carlin's business actually almost doubles from 1769 to
5:53 pm
1770. what accounts for this? carlin's business may have doubled because they utilize the textiles already in the colonies before supplies came to a shortage. maybe this is a simple matter of supply and demand, that makes sense. it's also possible that clever merchants and alexandria took after william who purchased an abundance of textiles from great britain in 1769 and 1770 in anticipation of just this sort of thing so he's trying to stop his shelves just waiting for someone to say, we are not going to import that stuff anymore so that he can say, i already have it right here for you, you don't have to be in violation of any agreement at all. it's a pretty smart guy, maybe that's what carlin's doing. by bringing previously imported fabrics to william carlin, no one really stood to be found in violation of the non importation agreement. it's also possible that members of the -- such as washington who
5:54 pm
occasionally did receive clothes from london taylor, made the choice to shop locally and to patronized a local tailors for new clothes in 1770 instead of going abroad. there's a couple of different factors contributing to this hike, or spike in consumerism. regardless of the reasons that maybe the carlin spike in business in 1770, it's clear to see even when alexandria citizens desire to curb their enthusiasm for british goods, they still want to look at doing it, there's no harm in that, right? so in 1765, a writer in the connecticut current newspaper noted, no age can come up to the president won by their dress, the clerk, the apprentice or the shot men are not distinguishable from the master, nor the servant made, even the cooker from his mistress. the announcement of william carlin's account verifies his proclamation that was made by this connecticut writer. from the year 1763, to 1782 but
5:55 pm
report dominantly before the revolution, karlyn produced -- society. everyone from indentured service, slaves, artists and merchants wore clothing from the hands of carlin and passed through the shop. william carlin measured alongside their domestic staff. william carlin measured cooper's, blacksmith, joiners, tavern keepers, merchants inside the walls of a shops. he produced close warns by washington and mason as they oversaw workers on their plantations but he often made the close of the men and women who were doing that work. carlin offer these carefully honed services, acquired years of an apprenticeship to learn his trade, to measure and fit men for their clothing and provide them with the clothing they need to cope with virginia's climate, to facilitate also ushering lifes milestones and changes.
5:56 pm
entrance into adulthood as we've learned, morning loss of family members and even entering to a marriage. with that help of the consumer revolution and the cities merchants, carlin provided alexandra citizens with the clothing made from any textile of the atlantic market had to offer and he continue to facilitates citizens fashionable or residents of fashionable desires to the turbulent years of the merchant revolution as well. desires of course in the non importation agreement could stifle. but don't take me wrong here, i'm not accusing carlin a facilitating an open rebellion amongst the patriots by trying to get people to, you know, not emulate the british or purchased british goods, i'd rather think of carlin as a no man. he also did his part to see would be patriots more fully realize the revolution beings and quite literally put on the formal uniform of revolutionary rebellion. in july of 1775, after patrick
5:57 pm
henry delivered his mortal words give me liberty or give me death, after the second continental congress convened in philadelphia -- gazette published george mason's declaration of rights, james parsons entered carlin's tailor shop and placed the revolutionary order. for the price of one pound, seven children's and sixpence, james parsons now don a regimental suits. the revolution with carlin's help had begun. thank you so much. (applause) >> the account book, does it also say where he purchased his materials, where he purchased his cloth, is that in that account book? >> there's only one transaction
5:58 pm
to tell me anything about where he is where -- he's purchasing, like what factor and it's a man named, there is one account, it's the earliest transaction in the account book and it says, i think it's james todd of york england, that is the only thing that i can find and it's possible that this is just one of karlyn's account keeping books. he may have others that are for that end of his business importing, you know, raw materials of. maybe he is getting them locally, i don't know, but this surviving account book is mostly incoming and outgoing based on the customer. >> thank you. >> i would love to know the answer to that question. if you find it, let me know. >> i was thinking of the recent very large remnants that have been found in alexandria and it perhaps if the clock was coming in on those, it would be nice
5:59 pm
to account. >> certainly, inevitably, it was but i don't know who he's communicating with, whose his factor in england or elsewhere. thank you. >> thank you for your presentation, it was really fascinating. just a couple of questions to sort of round up my whole picture about purchasing of clothes. would somebody like george mason or even one of the workers in the town, would they have more than one outfit, they have several? the second question is, what about hygiene at this time of history? >> so that's actually -- hygiene is a fun one to answer. the best way that i can answer that question is, the past is a foreign country, they do things differently there. there is a great book if you really want to do a deep dive, it's by kathy brown called foul bodies and she talks a lot about bathing, about hygiene,
6:00 pm
about all of these fun questions in that book and it's very virginia centric. i encourage you to get that book. laundry is a thing, bleaching things out in the sun is a thing so people are taking care of their clothing and people do bathe in this time period, contrary to popular mythology. there are a lot of things that we can do to keep ourselves as fresh as we can be and to keep our clothing as fresh as it can be as well. back to your question about multiple garments, i think it's clear to see in the account book and particularly that one receipt for these enslaved men in the washington records. what the fairfax records as well, you can see when people are acquiring you sets of clothes. a lot of a raw surround seasonality, which makes sense, right? so since late members of society, you are obligated to
6:01 pm
clothes -- to clothe slaves so people like washington and mason do that in a variety of different ways but i think it's funny to see in the account book that you can follow what happens to garments, what governments are repaired versus replaced, when that happens, when they get new suits of clothes, things like that. so for other members of society as well, again, i think that's a value of going straight to an account where you can see, while people are getting a lot of close, people do have multiple suits of clothes and that might be because changing clothes probably not like we do today but it's an option for you. we have a lot of different things to dress for in the 18th century than we do in the 21st and i'm wearing a wool skirt right now, it's like 90 degrees outside. i'm glad i'm wearing that will score because we have central air here and it's freezing. i don't have to fix so much about what the climate is when i dress myself in the morning.
6:02 pm
a few people did. so again, the past is a different country, they do things differently. i feel like there's 400 other ways i could answer that question but maybe that's the start. what >> could you mention -- in terms of even the size of the wardrobe and just what was popular fashion during the time? >> the size of the wardrobe, probably the same thing and i should also mention here that -- it's a fun way to engage what people had and it really sucks for looking at clothing because, you know, inventories are meant to get a glimpse of the work for retailer, for paying off your debts. compared to other stuff in your house, clothing isn't going to fetch that much. using clothing and hand clothing is not going to affect it that much. it's a real bummer so that really could've been a great
6:03 pm
way to add to that question, you really can't do it that way because people weren't thinking like that in the 18th century. women close, women were more often getting their clothing from someone -- the way that clothing is constructed is completely different than how men were having their clothes constructed. when drew, stand up (laughs) you can stay there, that is my husband. thank you. if he is going to a tailor and he's having clothing made, the taylor is going to approach him and drew is actually going to be his own, you know, his own dress form but the way that a taylor -- suit form? i don't know. the way the taylor is going to work out how to construct his finish garment is he's going to take measurements using that strip of paper, right? and he's going to measure arms, you've been through this, arms and everything was but a woman
6:04 pm
is going to go to a man taylor is he's going -- she's going to stand in a certain dress form but the way that construction works is that instead of a strip of paper being placed across areas of measurement, they are actually going to drape fabric on a woman's body. if you think about it, women's clothes at the time we're very, very form fitting in some places and extremely elaborate and some other places. so the way you measures for that clothing is totally, totally different. the two reasons why a woman might go to a tailor, might be for -- so men were also were also making women form fitted undergarments. riding habits are constructed to look like, what? they are constructed to look like men suits only a skirt and not pants so taylor would be doing that as well.
6:05 pm
>> that was so informative and fun, thanks for both of those things. >> i try to be fine. >> you talked about the various is styles by climate but i'm wondering if that's the evolution we are on in being a new nation emerge. did that affect clothing styles at all? would you be able to distinguish patriot from a loyalist at some point? >> i think we have this idea of country cloth, of the homespun movement and that's something i'm really trying to do a deep dive into. i think the homespun movement showing your patriotism by not importing paid british goods but by wearing clothing made from -- that question as well? okay. separate question, happy to come back in a moment but i think there is a very short kind of spark movement to wear clothing constructed from fabric that is made here in the
6:06 pm
colonies as a way to stick it to britain and we have homespun balls and things like that. not everyone is able to do that and so i think that we have, in our minds i, that everyone was running around in these things called country cloth and while that certainly happen, i'm not sure it happened to the magnitude that we want to believe that it did because patriots, right? in terms of dressing for the season was that still a factor and so we have central air, that's still a factor. again, i feel like there's so many different ways to answer these questions. we are always, i think, what colonists and then citizens of the new republic are always kind of looking to england first and then to france for fashionable inspiration. a really fun thing happens in fashion after the creation of the united states so in about
6:07 pm
1800 you have this prevalent stores towards the classics and being inspired by the classics and we see women in these beautiful drape gowns and they all look like they are creatures of goddesses, right, you know i'm talking about? there are other parts of fashionable life that also take that into account so you see -- this where you see the class this isn't and you see that being reflected in architecture. people have done amazing research papers on how a column on a building reflects the way a woman's gown drapes her body in the way that she's wearing that fashion, how it all says something about the new republic. so yeah, in a way, fashion does change after the revolution and there might be a way to put that on a nice little box that's longer than this conversation. another question about what manufactured, domestic manufacture? it kind of depends. the beginning of, let's say the end of the french and indian war, the beginning of the american revolution, we also
6:08 pm
have the beginning of the industrial revolution and so i think this idea of domestic manufacture is really going to start kicking off in the 19th century when we have more industry, when we are choosing to support ourselves more as a nation. the clothing trade really becomes more industrialized. the 19th century, obviously, we have more technology in terms of the sewing machine so things get more -- but it's not as fun because everything is ready made, there's a book that talks a lot about this more geared towards men's clothing but it's really more with the industrial revolution that we see more of the domestic, i think, more of the domestic war movement for clothing. i hope that answers your question? >> (inaudible).
6:09 pm
>> another problem that i just want to point now with the idea of homespun is that you have to have not only in the technology to create cloth in your home, whether it would be london or will, whatever, you have to have the leisure time. it's an incredible amount of work. there's something like 13 steps between sewing that flaxseed and then wearing linen. you have to have an incredible amount of leisure time to do that, you also have to have a way of supporting yourself through that process as well and so i think that's another factor that's lost in this conversation, is that, sure you might know how to do it, but do you have the leisure time to do it? you might really want to wear homespun for forever to show your patriotic leanings but who's doing it? where can they get it? i think that's probably more of a regional conversation than a national one.
6:10 pm
>> last question. >> i just want to ask you, i hope this is a segue but we know when the british soldiers came over they had wool, they were wearing their wool outfits. do you know the uniform that was made or what was being made for the continental army with that wall or was that linen? >> whoa is hot but wool is also a cool breeze. i would rather wear wool than polyester on any day, even a day like this. remember two, washington also orders everyone to wear hunting shirts and this is the linen, more of what you might see in your mind's eye when you think of the war in the south. you think of men wearing these hunting shirts and those are large linen almost smock like garments. but i think that's probably more having to do with availability of materials, how
6:11 pm
to make those shirts and also washington really wants everyone to look the same and everyone's running around in different colors. there are wool uniforms, continental army is wearing the wool uniforms just like the british army but also they are starting to employ this idea of linen hunting shirts as well during the war. (applause) >> announcer: tonight, on american history television we look at the american revolution beginning at 8 pm eastern. gregory urwin talks with the challenges that the british army face in battling the american terrain in the battle tactics during the revolutionary war. his remarks on the international conference -- military museum and library and richard foundation. watch american history tv tonight and over the


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on