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Edenton Tea Party

by Ansley Wegner, 2015

See also: Edenton Tea Party (Encyclopedia of North Carolina)

Women in this town led by Penelope Barker in 1774 resolved to boycott British imports. It is an example of early and influential activism by women.

Mrs. Penelope Barker/President of the Edenton Tea Party of 1774.On October 25, 1774, 51 women in Edenton resolved to stop buying English imports in support of the actions and resolutions of the First Provincial Congress. The women drew up resolves, declaring their intention to boycott English tea and English cloth, a momentous step for colonists, who relied on tea and other British goods. The women signed and mailed the document to England and the action has since became known as the Edenton Tea Party. It was indeed a bold demonstration of patriotism from the ladies of Edenton. 

An account of the event appeared in the Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser on January 16, 1775, along with a drawing portraying the women in a less than flattering light. There has been much confusion about the Edenton Tea Party, primarily because the event went unrecorded in North Carolina. It remained unknown until 1827, when a North Carolina native naval officer purchased a rendering of the cartoon in a shop abroad. Following his discovery citizens tried to piece together what they believed must have happened in Edenton in 1774. 

One of the primary errors is the belief that there was, in fact, a party of 51 women gathered at the home of Mrs. Elizabeth King, a prominent member of the Edenton community. The King home was too small for such an assembly. The wording of the resolution, too, does not indicate a gathering, but rather an agreement. There is no doubt, however, that the ladies of Edenton sent the document to England in 1774, making the resolution among the first public political acts by women in America. Penelope Barker, wife of Thomas Barker, treasurer of the Province of North Carolina played a key role in organizing the resolution. 

A teapot mounted on a Revolutionary era cannon just off the green in front of the 1767 Chowan County Courthouse commemorates the Edenton Tea Party and the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution is named for it. 

Educator Resources:

Grade 8: Edenton Tea Party. North Carolina Civic Education Consortium.

Grade 8: Timeless Tea in Celebration of North Carolina Women. North Carolina Civic Education Consortium.

References and additional resources:

Parramore, Thomas C. 1967. Cradle of the colony: the history of Chowan County and Edenton, North Carolina. [Edenton, N.C.]: Edenton Chamber of Commerce.

Moore, Elizabeth Vann. 1989. Guide book, historic Edenton and Chowan County: Edenton, North Carolina, incoporated 1722. [Edenton, N.C.]: Edenton's Woman's Club.

Powell, William Stevens, and Jay Mazzocchi. 2006. Encyclopedia of North Carolina. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

Dillard, Richard. [from old catalog]. 1906. The historic tea-party of Edenton, October 25th, 1774.

“Tempest in a Teapot,” Tar Heel Junior Historian (September 1971): 2-4

Daughters of the American Revolutions website:

Image Credit

"Mrs. Penelope Barker/President of the Edenton Tea Party of 1774." From the North Carolina Museum of History, Raleigh, NC.

Origin - location: 
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This helps.


this is a nice website


i am doing history day project on this and i wonder if there are any markers i can look at i live in edenton


Yes, there are. The North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program has a searchable website with all markers listed. The Edenton Tea Party marker is here:

The NCHHMP website also gives the location of each marker. The above one is at US 17 Business (West Queen Street) in Edenton.

There is also a marker for the Barker House, (US 17 Business (North Broad Street) in Edenton). This was the home of Penelope Barker, who organized the Edenton Tea Party.

T. Mike Childs, NCpedia, N.C. Government & Heritage Library.


Hi! I recently competed in a competition called History Day, and my performance group was selected to go onto the state level next week. Is there an information you could tell us, any really good resources you used for your research? Even a packet you could send us would be nice. Thank you and any help you could lend would be much appreciated.
Sincerely, Maddy Munoz


Thank you for taking the time to post an inquiry about the Edenton Tea Party. We received your question and I have sent you an email connecting you with Reference Services at the NC Government & Heritage Library. Their direct email address is Additional contact information may be found for them at Someone in Reference Services will be in touch with you soon about your questions. Good luck!


Emily Horton, Government & Heritage Library, State Library of NC


i love this website!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


this is a good website and i like it i go to dana elementary school and we thought it was 50 women and i found out it was really 51 women and we did not know that Penelope barkers house was small i think that i will come to N.C Pedia every time i need to research something i know i am only 10 years old but it is fun to research stuff i wish you had more information because i love research
your friend


I looked this up to use for a project I'm doing for school and i got only two things out of it. I'm just saying that it would have been nice to have a least five more paragraphs in it.

Comment Reponse:

Thanks for taking the time to post in NCpedia. I'm very sorry that you didn't find this article very useful for your school project. Did you see the other entry on the Edenton Tea Party in NCpedia? Here is the link if you are interested: Also, check out the "Additional Resources" links under both entries, there are links to more resources on the Edenton Tea Party. I hope this information helps. If you still need more information, please feel free to contact Reference Services at the Government & Heritage Library. Here is a link to their website: Good luck in your research!


Emily Horton, Government & Heritage Library at the State Library of NC

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