Robert E. Wright
Volume 42 (2000)
University of Virginia
Sometime on 9 July, Hannah Holland strode into her bank to get a loan. She learned the next day that her application had been successful, but the news barely affected her busy day. The businesswoman had received bank loans in the past and would receive many more in the future. At first glance, scholars may view this anecdote as indifferently as Holland viewed her $1,000 bank loan. When told the episode occurred not in the twentieth century, or even the nineteenth, however, interest should wax strong. In fact, Holland received her loan in 1797. Nor was she alone. Women held loan and deposit accounts in many northeastern banks in the early national period. They also owned significant amounts of corporate stock and other financial securities. Women’s participation in finance is particularly interesting in view of recent research that portrays the early U.S. financial sector as the most advanced sector of the American economy. Despite claims to the contrary, early national women retained the important economic roles that they held during the colonial period. Those economic roles created both the incentives and opportunities for women to engage in finance, the most important sector in the nation’s emerging market economy. This essay, like any short work based on new primary source evidence, can only be considered preliminary. It should establish, however, that the use of financial markets by Early American businesswomen deserves much more scrutiny.
The Early National Financial System
Scholars have recently proven beyond all reasonable doubt that the domestic financial system was responsible for initiating U.S. nineteenth-century economic development. Intermediaries (commercial banks) and secondary securities markets (stock markets) were the two main sectors of the financial system. Both sectors matched investors (those with money to save) with entrepreneurs (those with profitable ideas to implement). Banks did so indirectly, by pooling the funds of depositors and stockholders and then deciding to which businesses to lend those funds. Securities markets, with bare aid from intermediaries known as brokers, directly linked investors to entrepreneurs.
Banks specialized in making short-term loans to help businesses punctually meet their bills payable. They did so by discounting (paying the present discounted value of) businesses’ bills receivable (bills of exchange, promissory notes). Such discounts (short-term loans) spread out the income streams of businesses, allowing them to function more efficiently. “A Tradesman, … having a number of Apprentices employed,” Philadelphian Miers Fisher explained in the early 1790s, “may have a considerable quantity of his manufacture upon his hands for which he cannot find an immediate Market.” The effects of such a situation could be disastrous. “His stock worked up, without money to purchase more, demands upon him for Rent, market-money, Fuel &c., his workmen must stand idle” unless a short-term loan could be arranged. Banks provided just such loans. Although there were times when not all creditworthy businesses could obtain discounts and places where only insiders received funds, overall, early banks fulfilled their economic roles well, as evidenced by their widespread political acceptance and rapid proliferation.
Securities markets provided long-term funding for large businesses. Corporations and associations sold non-maturing equity shares of themselves directly to investors. (Today this process is called an initial public offering or IPO.) The large, active secondary securities (stock) markets in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Northern Virginia, and Charleston, S.C., lured investors by offering them a means to divest at will. In other words, investors were willing to buy the shares because they knew that they could cheaply and easily sell them to other investors, if need be. Such transactions, of course, in no way affected the corporation, which had already received its money and could pay dividends to one investor as well as another. So, large businesses found the selling of stocks to be a profitable way of raising funds. By 1825, the market capitalization of U.S. companies nearly matched that of Great Britain’s private companies! 
Smaller businesses had to find other means of long-term funding. In the lower middle Atlantic region, small businesses could buy land on ground rent contracts. Such contracts gave the purchaser fee simple ownership of land in exchange for a perpetual annual payment equal to the interest on the market value of the land on the date of sale. Such contracts were, in other words, a form of perpetual mortgage that allowed artisans, retailers, and other small businesses to acquire land without a large outlay. That freed them to use their savings to purchase tools and stock, allowing them to enter or extend business more quickly than they could otherwise have done. Importantly, ground rent contracts did not prevent the division or sale of land and were very secure forms of investment.
Elsewhere, small businesses had to rely on private loans. The market for private loans was small during the colonial era. The advent of banks and securities markets, however, greatly improved the early national private credit market. The problem with the colonial credit markets was what economists now call “information asymmetry.” Once investors found potential borrowers, by no means an easy process, they had difficulty distinguishing good credit risks from poor ones. Real estate collateral was used to limit risks, but such collateral had several inherent problems. First, the market value of real estate was difficult to ascertain and quite volatile. Second, land and buildings could be degraded or “wasted” if not attended to properly. Because of those difficulties, colonial investors had little incentive to lend outside of a narrow circle of friends and family or to insist on very high levels of collateralization (say, $3 of collateral per every $1 borrowed). Overcollateralization of course greatly reduced the amount that could be borrowed.
After the formation of banks and secondary securities markets in the 1780s and 1790s, the private loan market loosened considerably. By smoothing out income streams and adding liquidity to the financial system, banks made it easier for moneyed persons to invest in relatively illiquid (long-term, unsaleable) private loans. Securities proved to be excellent collateral because they were uniform in value and not subject to wastage. Also, the markets supplied investors with daily price information. So, overcollateralization became less necessary, allowing credit to expand.
Women in the Early National Economy
Women participated in the financial sector in the early national U.S. in several ways. First, as businesspersons, they partook of bank discounts and private loans. Second, as investors, they lent money to joint stock companies, governments, and small businesses. There is no evidence that a women-led business issued stock or that any woman became a corporate officeholder. Women stockholders, however, certainly voted their stock, and their stockholdings, as discussed below, were sometimes quite substantial. Engagement in the wider economy provided women with the funds and motivation to use financial instruments and markets. Before exploring women and the financial sector, therefore, a review of women’s wider market economic activity is necessary.
Historians have long been aware that women were an important component of the colonial economy. The primary economic role of most married colonial women was domestic in nature. Wives, in other words, prepared meals, made and mended clothing, nursed the sick, and generally managed their households’ consumptive patterns. In addition to their household functions, many married women provided direct assistance to their husbands’ businesses. In other words, they acted as “deputy husbands,” standing in for their husbands whenever necessary. According to historian Laurel Ulrich, “almost any task was suitable for a woman as long as it furthered the good of her family and was acceptable to her husband.” The last point is important. Although many colonial women were managing partners in the family firm, the law endowed their husbands with all of the legal decision-making power. However, colonial husbands were often absent for extended periods; many gave their wives considerable discretion; and some went so far as to allow their wives to run separate businesses.
Additionally, single women, either unmarried or widowed, were economic agents as free from legal constraints as any colonial man. Indeed, colonial women were innkeepers, “she- merchants,” artificers, health care providers, teachers, landed proprietors, writers, printers, shipbuilders, tailors, shoemakers, bakers, brewers, painters, gilders, and wallpaper hangers, among other occupations. Whether a “deputy husband” or single, colonial women had to know how to keep accounts, make cash transactions, and arrange credit terms.
Colonial women most often made a living in occupations that stressed their traditional female roles as mothers and housekeepers. The market orientation of even the most feminine of occupations, however, transformed “women’s work” into wealth accumulation. Women inn and tavernkeepers had to take money and promissory notes from their customers in order to pay their suppliers, for example. The operation of a public house necessitated the hosting of public functions, especially legal and economic ones. Vendues (public auctions), for instance, were commonly held at taverns, including those owned by women. Seamstresses often developed into milliners and mantuamakers fancy seamstresses who resold a stock of value-added goods. Colonial she-merchants sold a wide variety of goods from windows to clothes to wines to groceries. A few women were dry goods importers, the top of the colonial and early national merchants’ ladder. One of these was Mary Alexander, the mother of Lord Stirling of Revolutionary War fame. She was a powerful New York City merchant of Dutch extraction. From the 1720s to the 1760s, Alexander lived the life of a wealthy merchant. Worth some 100,000 pounds, Alexander dealt in bills of exchange (essentially international checks), especially with Barclay and Sons, her bankers in England. Other colonial women traders were furniture dealers, hardware traders, booksellers, druggists, and tobacconists. Some she-merchants specialized in certain goods. Clothing and seeds were favorite areas of concentration. Women came to dominate certain trades in some areas. For example, six of Boston’s eight major seed retailers in 1774 were women. Widows and single women in such occupations could not help but gain a familiarity with finances. In fact, William Dawson ran “an evening school for young ladies” in Philadelphia in 1755 that included instruction in “arithmetick” and “accounts, by way of single entry, in a plain methodical manner.” Similarly, early textbooks for girls regularly included discussions of financial topics such as interest, present value, and security valuation.
Although the words “for cash” or “for cash only” frequently appeared in the advertisements of colonial she-merchants, it is clear that many women merchants parted with their wares on credit. Women shopkeepers were able to extend credit, it appears, because they were able to get credit directly from Britain. But, like their male counterparts, their credit was not unlimited, and they often had to dun debtors for payment. Women’s dunnings could be firm. One such dunning bluntly stated: “if not convenient to pay the money, to come and bring surety and change bonds into negotiable notes of hand … and those neglecting will be sued in the December Court.” This she-merchant needed cash and was willing to resort to the private securities market, or the courts, to get it. Women shopkeepers also made their own promissory notes or assigned their debtors’ notes to their creditors for collection.
Over the almost two-and-a-half centuries from 1750 to 1990, the participation rate for women in the labor force was roughly U-shaped. In other words, it was highest in the beginning and end of that period and lowest in between. Exactly when the women’s labor force participation rate descended towards its nadir, however, has been a matter of debate. Some scholars, relying on cultural and legal evidence and Marxist theory, argue that the American Revolution proscribed women’s economic activity. They stress the Revolution’s role in the proliferation of a “cult of domesticity” or a “Cult of True Womanhood,” which extolled the virtues of sexual purity, submissiveness, and domesticity and which served to relegate women to a “separate sphere” of activity apart from the market-oriented male sphere. That ideology was rooted in the fact that women to some extent did live lives apart from men; many women, for example, formed deeply emotional and sensual relationships with other women. The ideology of the “separate sphere” reduced housework to a new form of leisure and thereby sought to decrease the economic and political power and aspirations of women. White males, some scholars believe, pushed the domesticity ideology in order to stabilize the new Republic; white males could only consider each other equals if they believed women (and blacks) to be inferior. The ideology of the separate sphere, in other words, attempted to deny that married women were full partners in the “matrimonial firm” and that single women could and should enjoy political privileges.
While the domesticity ideology clearly existed, before the Civil War its effect on women’s economic roles was modest at best. Women continued to “hurry, hurry, hurry, and drive, drive, drive” to do “all the in-doors work,” but they still found time to join the market economy as workers and producers. Claudia Goldin’s systematic analysis of Philadelphia city directories and census manuscripts, for example, demonstrates that women remained active in the market economy in the early national and antebellum periods. Furthermore, Goldin shows that female labor force participation rates were a function of market forces, not ideology. In other words, women moved into and out of the market economy in response to macroeconomic conditions and shifted from sector to sector in response to price movements. For example, in 1820, a year of recession following the Panic of 1819, approximately thirty women were fully employed for every 100 fully employed males. In 1832, a strong year economically, about forty-three women were fully employed for every 100 fully employed males. In 1850, another strong year, the ratio of fully employed women to men was almost fifty.
Other scholars have also noted women’s strong economic presence after the Revolution. In a careful study, Mary Roberts Parramore showed that the number of women traders in South Carolina actually boomed after the Revolution. James Henretta has also argued that the Revolutionary War “broadened the scope of women’s work.” Unfortunately, a dearth of documents prevents historians from describing the economic lives of most early American women in detail. Luckily, however, significant business records of a few women have survived. The business biographies of those women are powerful tools for appreciating the economic importance of women in the early U.S.
One of the most illuminating business biographies is that of Martha Ballard, a Maine housewife and midwife who left us a detailed record of her life from 1785 until her death in 1812. Ballard’s diary shows that early national women participated in a female economy that intersected with the more well-documented male-dominated economy. It also shows that wives enjoyed considerable economic independence from their husbands. Ballard hired, supervised, and even paid a small work force of “girls,” some her daughters, some relatives, and some non- kin hired workers. From dressing, cleaning, and cooking quadruped offal to pulling, combing, spinning, reeling, and warping flax, to producing candles, soap, and lye, Ballard and her workers kept the family farm functioning. Ballard and her girls also produced, and later cleaned, a variety of clothes, coats, and bedding. Although the male members of the farm produced crops for sale in regional markets, Ballard was responsible for producing food for home and local consumption, so she and her girls tended the gardens, cows, pigs, and chickens. Ballard was also the farm’s veterinarian. Ballard, after all, was more than just a “deputy husband;” she was also a professional midwife and folk healer. Over three decades, she delivered 797 babies and treated many a burn, rash, and frozen extremity. She also retailed various medicines (like camphor), various elixirs, and herb remedies, many of her own creation. Throughout all, Ballard faced the same business problems that men faced, including worker shortages and product and service demand fluctuations. No wonder Ballard lamented that her work was “never done.”
Philadelphian Elizabeth Meredith (1742-1799), wife of tanner Jonathan Meredith, was also accomplished in business matters. Mrs. Meredith maintained the tannery firm’s account books, borrowed money for the firm from the Bank of Pennsylvania, collected the firm’s debt, and contracted with workers, suppliers, and customers. Eventually, she helped to liquidate some of the assets of the tannery and to reinvest the profits in real estate, housing, and mercantile speculations.
Meredith was essentially a “deputy husband.” Esther Lewis, on the other hand, was one of Southeastern Pennsylvania’s many successful widows. In the 1830s and 1840s, Widow Lewis owned and ran a farm and iron ore mine in Chester County. She supervised the labor of family and non-kin employees, contracted with iron makers, and of course handled all of the firm’s finances.
In the early national period, married women, when not serving as deputy husbands, joined the emerging market economy, sometimes as employees, but usually as producers of marketable goods. Historian Joan Jensen, for example, makes a compelling case that married women dairy farmers helped to fuel the economic growth of Philadelphia’s hinterland in the first half of the nineteenth century. On average, a woman could produce 200 pounds of butter per year. At 25 cents per pound, that activity would increase farm income by $50, a considerable sum at the time. Furthermore, butter prices were more stable than the prices of other agricultural products and hence served as a hedge during bad times.
How was it that women were so deeply involved in the market economy? Despite a few legal barriers, most women, even married ones, could engage in business on their personal account. Women enjoyed extensive property rights when single, and, when married, if a feme sole. Originally a London custom, feme sole status was codified by some American colonies or states. Pennsylvania, for example, passed an act relative to feme sole traders in 1718. The act was designed for mariner’s wives, to protect them, after established in business, from having to pay the debts of profligate husbands. The act also protected “creditors [so that they] may, with certainty and safety, transact business with a married woman under the circumstances aforesaid.” A feme sole trader, in other words, was a married woman conducting business on her own, with her husband’s permission, but without his aid.
The English common law concerning coverture and feme sole status was best described in 1700 in a legal treatise titled Baron and Feme: A Treatise of the Common Law Concerning Husbands and Wives.A pamphlet published in Philadelphia on the eve of the Civil War shows how little feme sole rules changed in a century and half. The compiler of the piece, Thomas Baylis, wrote the pamphlet to help “merchants dealing with married women, and selling them goods, … [a] quite a common practice.” Baylis began by arguing that “the disability of a married woman to contract, so as to bind herself, arises not from the want of discretion, but because her legal identity is merged in the person of her husband.” “The husband,” Baylis continued, “is not liable for money lent to his wife.” Likewise, “a suit cannot be maintained against a married woman for goods sold and delivered, unless she is lawfully trading as a feme sole trader, under the Act of 1718.” Feme sole traders, on the other hand, may “sue and be sued, plead and be impleaded at law during their husband’s natural lives, without naming their husbands.” Just as in England in 1700, in Baylis’ Philadelphia, “the main question in … cases where the husband lives with the wife, and is in and about the business, seems to be: In what capacity is the husband in and about the business?” In other words, is he his wife’s agent, employee, or merely trading in her name? The difference between coverture and feme sole status was especially important in contracts for the repayment of money, such as promissory notes. Though of proper form, sometimes courts declared promissory notes void because the husband did not sign the note and the contracted debt was not for “necessaries.”
Whether speaking of single women, married women acting under some sort of feme sole provision or custom, or widows, the millinery and mantuamaking trade dominated all other economic avenues open to women in the early national period. Many women became innkeepers, grocers, landlords, and teachers, but the fancy clothing trade was the most challenging and potentially lucrative. Milliners and mantuamakers were more than mere seamstresses. They were highly skilled artisans deeply involved in the transatlantic fabric trade. Milliners and mantuamakers could make a comfortable livelyhood but, as in other skilled trades, success usually required a lengthy apprenticeship and even formal training. A girl’s school in Oxford, New York, for example, away from “the scene of dissipation and alluring gaiety” of cities, offered courses in reading, writing, “and Needle work of all kinds Netting, Fringing, Millenary, and Mantua-making.” Most milliners and mantuamakers kept small retail shops where they sold fancy, “untrimmed” cloth, finished imported clothes, and their own value-added productions.
Most women traders merely mentioned they sold goods “on very reasonable terms.” Others were more aggressive. Mrs. S. Toole, for example, advertised that “she has received several cases supurb [sic] millinary … all of which she will sell from 10 to 15 per cent lower than any other house in the city.” When Mrs. Barbour opened her “new millinery” in Bath, New York, she advertised “all kinds of produce will be received in payment.” Miss Post also agreed that “Various Kinds of PRODUCE will be received in exchange for Millinery” when she moved her store from Utica to Geneva in the mid-1820s. Miss Winship of Rochester sold her “millenery & mantuamaking” goods “cheap for Cash or most kinds of produce.” Mrs. Merrit sold her “assortment of Millinery … silks and sattins … at the lowest prices for ready pay.”
Male wholesale import merchants did not eschew trade with milliners. M. Natsh, No. 7 Peck Slip, ran the following advertisement in the New York Weekly Museum: “To Milliners White, Brown and Blue Bonnet Boards, for sale.” N. Smith, a “Chymical Perfumer from London,” advertising in the same women’s magazine, made it clear that “great allowance [will be given] to those who buy to sell again.” Alexander Saunders and John Leonard, manufactures “of Hats and Bonnets,” seemed to specialize in supplying milliners: “With a general and elegant assortment of articles in the Millenary Line, by wholesale only.” J. Tiebout tried to sell “Ten Gross BONNET BOARDS of a superior quality … to Milliners.”
Like country businessmen, milliners in out of the way places were not averse to diversifying their offerings in order to improve sales. Mrs. Barnard of Bath, for example, ran a boarding house and millinery. Mrs. Ayers of Ithaca sold “millenary & groceries (butter, wheat)” and received “most kinds of produce … in payment.” Also like businessmen, women traders sometimes entered into partnerships and other forms of business relationships. Miss Coon of Ogdensburgh, for example, made arrangements to carry on her millinery and mantuamaking business “at the house of Mr. Fitch.” Jesse Merritt and his feme sole wife moved into the building “formerly occupied by the Newburgh Branch Bank.” Mrs. Merritt carried on an extensive business, advertising that she “had returned from New York, with a very General assortment … She has likewise obtained a knowledge of the present City Fashions.” This, however, did not keep Mrs. Torrey from opening a new millinery “next to J. Merritt in the building once occupied by David Ayers.” Torrey also carried on an extensive business. Besides her shop in Ithaca, she kept “a supply of the above articles [fabrics] … at the store of Mr. Calkin, at Athens, Tioga Point, where orders will be also received for any article in the Millinery line.” Torrey did so well that she soon removed to a brick building, where she advertised that she would sell her wares for cash or produce. Torrey may have forwarded country produce to her associate Mr. Calkin for resale in the Albany or New York markets. Sometimes milliners and mantuamakers entered into more formal partnerships. Miss Flagg and Miss Rogers of Plattsburgh entered into partnership in 1817, for example. A year later, the unmarried sisters “Miss[es] L. & A. Mather … removed to a room in the Store occupied by S. Mather & Son” to make and sell “elegant clothes.”
Milliners and mantuamakers were part of a women-dominated trade network that distributed goods from New York. Milliners in intermediate towns forwarded goods to country and frontier areas. For instance, besides carrying on her millinery and mantuamaking business, Miss A. S. Hotchkiss shipped “Winter hats, gypsies, leghorns,” for retail sale in Rochester. But Hotchkiss’ operation paled in comparison with that of Mrs. Langworthy, who sold ladies hats “together with many other desirable goods.” From Langworthy’s two ads, it is clear that she sold headdresses, pelisses, hats, and summer dresses. Langworthy was also attempting to build up a wholesale trade. “Neighbouring Milliners are particularly invited to call,” she wrote, “where they can be accommodated with the latest style of Hats, patterns, and the sign of the times.” Langworthy’s shop was so well known, a male competitor, Asahel Barber, referenced his store in relation to hers! Part of Langworthy’s success may have been due to familial connections. Her husband was probably a partner in the Rochester Cupola Furnace, which Langworthy, Hall & Co. used to make plows, weights, spindles, and gudgeons. Other Rochester milliners, most notably Mrs. Strong, bore important family names.
Shortly after the Civil War, “Belle Otis” published her Diary of a Milliner. Otis, whose real name was probably Caroline H. Woods, described her daily life as a milliner and her transition from a naive widow into a hard-nosed businessperson. “When I went into business I had very correct ideas of integrity in the abstract,” Otis wrote in her Preface. “I intended to make steady, reasonable profits,” she explained, but “had no idea of the fluctuation in prices which might interfere with my purpose.” Otis, her diary revealed, concocted “Paris,” “London,” and “New York” “imports” to increase her sales. She felt uneasy about the deceitful way that she treated her customers, but claimed she “loved” them and thought that they “loved the attention” which she provided.
Otis’ undated diary began with the young widow trying to decide what to do with her life. “I am told that it is not genteel and fashionable for young ladies to work,” she admitted, but necessity drove her into the market economy. Her next choice was whether to “go on a salary, or engage in some business of my own?” She decided on the latter, reasoning that she was “as capable of managing a business, and obtaining all the profits of it as the one who might employ me.” Though frightened, she was happy because “business will be independence.”
Otis immediately recognized that she “must get some practical knowledge of those perplexing phrases, percentage, profits, losses, &c.” She decided to become a clerk in a large millenary establishment to learn the trade. (Young businessmen often took a similar route.) Otis honed her sales skills until she could “tell by a glance whether the article sought for suits by the expression of the face.” She quickly came to live by the old Quaker proverb: “Get money honestly if thee can … but don’t fail to get it.” Like many male merchants, she was soon railing vociferously against women who looked for hours without buying.
Finally, women, like their male counterparts, sometimes defended their sex and trades in the public press. In the wake of the Panic of 1819, for example, many pseudo-economists blamed the economic downturn on “extravagance,” “fashion,” and, indirectly, women. “Matilda” retaliated, asserting that men were extravagant in their use of tobacco and liquor. This article started a mini-newspaper war.  In Rochester in the early 1820s Tabitha, a “Milliner & Mantuamaker” who “resided in this village some time” wrote the Telegraph to “protest in the most solemn manner against the practice of certain merchants introducing Leghorn Hats ready trimmed, and Silk Dresses made up.” Such practices, she argued, were “an infringment upon a branch of business, with which they ought not to interfere.” “If I discover any thing of the kind in future,” she warned, “I shall be more explicit.”
Women’s Involvement in Early National Financial Markets and Institutions
Clearly then, at least some women were deeply involved in the early national economy as independent businesspersons. In general terms, their economic activities were identical to those of their male counterparts. We should expect, then, to find that women engaged in many of the same financial activities as men. Indeed, although records are far too sparse to assess women’s participation in early finance with any degree of precision, the following survey shows that early national women were owners of financial securities, recipients of bank discounts, and an important class of bank noteholders. As such, they were part of the cutting edge of national economic development.
Sometimes women participated in finance merely as an agent for their fathers, brothers, or husbands. Infamous financier William Duer, for example, involved his wife Kitty in his financial schemes. “Received your letter my dear love, this morng,” Mrs. Duer once wrote. “I am sorry it did not arrive in time to have done the Business in Bank on saturday,” she continued, adding that she had “managed to take up the notes by borrowing 1100 dols of Rosevelt.” Kitty ended her very businesslike letter by informing William: “I am obliged to make large drafts on your cash on acct of the expense of moving.” After Duer’s bankruptcy led to a minor financial panic and the failure of close associate Alexander Macomb, Macomb’s wife pledged that her “own little property shall go towards the maintenance of the Family with pleasure.”
It is clear, however, that women could and did engage in financial transactions on their own account. For example, women bought and sold government securities for their own portfolios. Women owned a large percentage of the small volume of government bonds issued during the colonial era. For instance, nineteen of the thirty- one subscribers to Pennsylvania’s Indian Commissioner Loan of 1759-1760 were women. During the Revolution, women owned Continental securities. After the Revolution, some women speculated in government debt. In 1784, for example, widow Marian Maxwell advertised that “Cash, Bills of the New Emission, and any other Security of the State of New-York will be taken in payment, at their current value” for debts due her husband’s estate. Twenty women were among the 256 holders of Pennsylvania debt securities who applied in 1791-92 to use their certificates to subscribe to the new federal loans created as part of Alexander Hamilton’s refunding plan. Women’s subscriptions amounted to 4.81 percent of the total dollar value of Pennsylvania’s subscription. In 1809, Philadelphia shopkeeper Ann Robertson instructed her executors to invest the proceeds of her estate in the funds or public securities, by which she certainly meant federal bonds. Later, women owned state internal improvement bonds. Hellen Ellice, for instance, owned a large amount of Pennsylvania 5 percent bonds in the 1830s.
One of the best investments a widow or young lady could make was in bank stock. Early banks were extremely stable, and, unlike long bonds or long leases, their current payments (dividends) tended to move in the same direction as general prices. This eased the burden of price inflation. Sometimes bank stock was a real Godsend. During the War of 1812, bank stock helped Marie Nichols make ends meet. “Now, mamma has not been well for some two or three weeks,” Nichols explained to Mrs. James Bayard, “and it was a little difficult to determine the cause of her malady; but the nature of her disease declared itself upon her rapid recovery when the United States Bank declared a dividend.” “This is an excellent Bank,” Nichols continued, “last quarter they paid 3 percent this 3 percent next they hope to pay 4 percent.” Nichols was “truly thankful” for the Bank’s high dividends because it cushioned some of the discomfort that price inflation inflicted on families with fixed incomes. “It is hard at any time to have one’s income reduced,” she concluded, “but more aggravating when the necessaries of life are so raised in value.”
For these reasons, considerable numbers of women owned equity stakes in banks, insurance companies, and other joint-stock companies. Eleven of the eighty-nine persons and companies who held stock in the Insurance Company of North America from 1792 until 1799 were women. Similarly, some fifty-three of the Manhattan Company’s first 388 subscribers were women. A considerable number of women owned stock in the Bank of Pennsylvania in the mid-1790s. Ten of the first sixty-nine (14.5 percent) subscribers to the Commercial and Farmers of Baltimore were women. They accounted for 12.5 percent of the total capital subscription to that bank in its 1810 public offering. In 1812, some forty-five females, mostly unmarried women and widows, owned stock in the Bank of Utica. Nine percent of the eighty-nine investors in the IPO of the Central Bank of Worcester, Massachusetts, were women, though they purchased only twenty-four of the 1,000 shares offered. When that Bank offered an additional 517 shares in 1848, 12 percent of the purchasers were women, but again they took on average fewer shares than the average subscriber took. During that Central Bank’s 1850 offering of 1,000 shares, 14.6 percent of the investors were women, but this time their portion of the shares purchased, 9.8 percent, was much closer to the average subscription. Twelve percent of the initial subscribers to the Bank of Chester County (1814) were women, who accounted for only 4.8 percent of the total number of shares taken. If anything, women increased their stake in that institution over the next several decades. Indeed, women were probably more extensively engaged in the secondary markets than in IPOs. For example, women were transactors in 21.6 percent of the 111 transfers of Worcester Bank stock between 1812 and 1846 for which records still exist.
Women were less active investors in transportation companies, but their presence was usually felt nonetheless. None of the first fifty-nine investors in the Schuylkill Bridge near Philadelphia, for example, were women. Of the first 427 investors in the Permanent Bridge, also near Philadelphia, only twenty-two (5.15 percent) were women. Women accounted for only 553 (3.69 percent) of the 15,000 shares initially subscribed between April 1798 and April 1800. When 241 additional investors joined the company in 1803, twenty-one (8.7 percent) were women who accounted for just 3.5 percent of the 5,477 new shares. Between 1800 and May 1815, 32,153 shares of the company’s stock changed hands in 716 transactions (44.9 shares per trade average). During that span, thirty women sold 540 shares and fifty-three purchased 1,064 shares, for a net increase of women’s holdings of 524 shares.
Other types of nonbank corporations attracted female investors but not always in droves. The spotty records that remain of the Chester County Silk Company make clear that women owned shares of its stock but allow for little else to be said with certainty. In Maine in 1844, women were just 7.5 percent of all nonbank stockholders and accounted for only 4 percent of the nonbank capital of the state’s nineteen nonbank corporations. In Pennsylvania about that time, seven of the forty-nine subscribers to the tiny ($1,000 par capitalization) Agricultural and Mechanics Association of Pennsylvania and New Jersey were women.
The most comprehensive data on women’s bank stockholding now extant also comes from Maine and dates from 1839 and 1841. In 1839, 15.33 percent (472 of 3079) of the stockholders of the state’s fifty banks were women. Women accounted for 8.93 percent of the par value of stock in that year. The figures for 1841 were similar (17.33 percent of stockholders; 9.55 percent of stock value). (By 1853, women composed 24.7 percent of Maine bank stockholders and owned a full 16 percent of the par value of Maine bank stock!) Women’s investment in Maine’s banks may have paled compared to women’s investment in Massachusetts. According to political economist Henry C. Carey, by the late 1830s women owned some 38.5 percent of Massachusetts’s total banking capital. (Carey applauded limited liability corporations because small tradesmen, servants, and women could buy stock without fear. Under such a principle, he noted, an association of even the poorest persons could fund its activities.) Indeed, women’s benevolent associations, like “The Association for the relief of respectable aged indigent females,” often invested in equities. That organization gave their wards cash, wood, and tea. The organization paid for the handouts from current donations, of course, but also received a “dividend on Stock in Mechanics Bank $40.50.”
Like other property, married women could own bank stock on their own account, and they did not lack the legal support of male attorneys when pursuing their rightful claims. “It is a glorious cause to argue,” financier Jacob Barker told New York attorney Benjamin F. Butler, “being against the Husbands right to dispose of Bank stock settled on his wife by her late father.” 
Stock ownership often entailed borrowing privileges for men and women alike. Personal records show that women could get discounts at banks, even the Bank of the United States, but such records are unsystematic. Extant bank ledgers, on the other hand, though few, yield some limited data regarding the degree of women’s banking. In 1790, 2.68 percent of the Bank of North America’s almost 1,600 customers were women. A decade later, women composed 5 percent of the Bank’s customer base. Three decades later, women were still banking, making up 11 percent of the Bank of Germantown’s customers. Women also received discounts from country banks. At least five women received discounts at the Farmers’ Bank of Reading, Pennsylvania, in 1831, for example.
From large merchant Margaret Duncan, to innkeeper Sarah Dyer, to tutoress Mary Pine, to gentlewoman Sarah Wistar, banks helped businesswomen in a variety of ways. Wistar, for instance, received 190 credits in the Bank of North America between 1809 and 1815. Since Wistar was a stockholder, some of these credits were dividend payments. Others were loans. Most were “lodged” deposits of cash or checks. Wistar drew on her balance with checks, some made out to order, but most simply “to bearer.” She made out these bearer checks for as little as $6 and as much as $13,000. In 1791, shopkeepers Anne and Sarah Ashbridge wrote 121 checks, mostly to important Philadelphia businessmen like John Chaloner. They met these drafts by making 49 deposits, about one a week, ranging between $50 and $225. That same year, the throughput (credits) of shopkeeper Mary Rhea’s account topped $13,500, quite a hefty sum (approximately $135,000 in 1999 U.S. dollars).
In general, women used banks for the same reasons as men: to safeguard money, to make disbursements by check, and to increase liquidity. In other words, women used banks to improve their business and personal finances. Though some women, like some male customers, used the bank only to store funds which they withdrew in cash, most disbursed their credits by writing checks. Also, many women customers received bank discounts. That is, the bank loaned them money on the security of a promissory note or bill of exchange. This allowed them both to extend their businesses and to conduct their operations more safely, i.e., with less chance of insolvency.
Whatever the exact numbers in particular times and places, it is clear that, in New England and the Middle Atlantic states anyway, there were no legal restrictions, outside of coverture, to women’s bank use. In other words, women could engage in every type of activity needed to bank. For example, they could make or endorse promissory notes and bills of exchange. William B. Astor, son of John Jacob Astor, often sent bills of exchange to John Jacob’s sister Elizabeth. “At the request of my father,” William once wrote, “I enclose you John Bolton Agent’s bill on Thos. Wilson & Co. (No. 7) at 60 dys favor John Bolton for $500 which be pleased to receive.” Elizabeth was well equipped to deal with such difficult transactions, as John Jacob had corresponded with her about complicated financial matters for years. But a woman did not have to be John Jacob Astor’s sister to make or use personal securities. Margaret Duncan, a large early national Philadelphia merchant and Bank of North America customer, also dealt in bills of exchange. Women also circulated promissory notes. In the mid 1820s Miles Sweeney of Geneva cautioned the public “against purchasing two Notes of Hand, which were stolen from the subscriber.” “One of the said Notes,” Sweeney’s ad continued, “was drawn by Mrs. Mary M’Kay, to the subscriber or bearer, for $200, dated Bloomfield, 15th March, 1819.” Women could also make, receive, and endorse checks, even epistolary checks (i.e., checks written entirely by hand without a pre-printed form). Alexander Hamilton’s wife Elizabeth, for example, had the power to draw checks against Hamilton’s account in the Bank of the United States. In 1815 a “young girl” presented Jacob Barker’s Exchange Bank with a forged check. A woman asked her husband for a check in an 1819 farce. In 1811, an anti-debtor’s prison essayist claimed that the state’s debtor laws and promissory notes helped to perpetuate prostitution. The madams controlled their girls by compelling “them to give a quantity of promissory notes, for small sums, on each of which they sue, and thus harass them into a compliance with their purpose.”
Women could also loan their money to others. Banker Alexander Bryan Johnson once told of a widow who “loaned [her husband’s small estate] on interest.” This arrangement “added greatly to her resources, small as the income seems to persons in a different society.” They could also receive deposits and make disbursements to third parties. Erastus Root once wrote Ebenezer Foote: “I leave the bill with Mrs. White you can have it by sending to her.” Notes payable at houses where a woman resided could be protested for non-payment if the woman asserted that the maker had not made provision for its payment with her.
Women not under coverture could sue and be sued. At least one woman, Martha Bradstreet of Utica, spent so much time in the courts that she was practically a lawyer. Contemporaries called her “a host in herself.” Because she was “a strenuous and persevering claimant of a large part of the soil of Utica,” she acquired “by study a mastery of the law of real estate.” “She harassed numbers of its citizens with suits at law and besieged the courts with her causes,” antiquarian Moses Bagg asserted. She started so many suits that she had fill-in-the-blank forms created for her own use! Other women started suits too. For example, Mary Vredenburgh sued Benjamin Thomas for default on a mortgage in 1822.
The seamy side of finance also attracted some women. “Mary Davidson was detected in passing counterfeit money,” the Northern Whig announced in 1812. She was carrying $500 in bad bills and $50 of specie when she was apprehended on her way to Goshen, New York. “There is no doubt but she has been employed by a gang of counterfeiters,” the editor concluded. She eventually got two years in the New Jersey State Prison for her activities. Women were implicated in some of the many financial controversies of the period. For example, in the spring of 1810, Federalists alleged the State’s Republican Comptroller had made improper use of the School Fund by loaning too much money for too long on too little security to too many friends and family members. Two of the “improper” loans, for $1,450 and $1,250, were made to Catherine Tillinghast.
Compared to the attention paid to businessmen, historians have largely ignored early American businesswomen. The few studies of them that do exist, ably surveyed in Angel Kwolek-Folland’s recent Incorporating Women, almost completely ignore women’s role in the financial sector. Given the recent interest in early national financial markets, more studies of women’s use of finance seem in order.
Although women were not commercial bankers or corporate officers, they did own the equities of commercial banks and other corporations, voted their stock, and received discounts and other financial accommodations. Women used those accommodations to help their businesses and lives. Lisa Wilson Waciega’s view that early national women could excel in business is certainly correct. But women were involved in more than just the general economy; they were a sizable part of the most advanced part of the early national economy, the financial sector.
 Technically, Holland received a “discount,” a type of commercial loan where the bank deducted the interest from a promissory note or bill receivable. Hence, she received a bank credit for $994.67 in return for a promise to pay the bank $1,000 in 30 days. The details of Holland’s story have been dramatized for effect, but the facts are true. For Holland’s accounts with the Bank of North America, see the Bank of North America Papers at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, hereafter H.S.P.
 According to Jeanne Boydston, women’s role in the transition to capitalism is again attracting scholarly attention. Jeanne Boydston, “The Woman Who Wasn’t There: Women’s Market Labor and the Transition to Capitalism in the United States,” Journal of the Early Republic (1996) 16:183-206. That essay also appears in Paul A. Gilje, ed., Wages of Independence: Capitalism in the Early American Republic (Madison, Wis.: Madison House, 1997), 23-48.
 Richard E. Sylla, “U.S. Securities Markets and the Banking System, 1790-1840,” Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Review (1998) 80:83- 104. Richard E. Sylla “Shaping the U.S. Financial System, 1690-1913: The Dominant Role of Public Finance” in Richard Sylla, Richard Tilly, and Gabriel Tortella, eds. The State, the Financial System and Economic Modernization (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999). Richard Sylla, Jack Wilson, and Robert E. Wright, America’s First Securities Markets, 1790-1830: Emergence, Development and Integration, Cliometrics Conference, Toronto, Ontario, 1997. Richard Sylla, Jack Wilson, and Robert E. Wright, “Database of Securities Prices, Major U.S. Markets, 1790- 1850″ (Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research, 2000). Howard Bodenhorn, A History of Banking in Antebellum America: Financial Markets and Economic Development in an Era of Nation-Building (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000). David J. Cowen, The Origins and Economic Impact of the First Bank of the United States, 1791-1797 (New York: Garland Publishing, 2001).
.”A Plan for the Support of the Poor, and for the relief of the necessitous,” Miers Fisher Papers, H.S.P.
 Robert E. Wright, Artisans, Banks, Credit, and the Election of 1800, Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography (1998) 122:211-39.
 Naomi Lamoreaux, Insider Lending: Banks, Personal Connection, and Economic Development in Industrial New England (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994).
 A. Glenn Crothers, “‘The Projecting Spirit’: Social, Economic, and Culture Change in Post-Revolutionary Northern Virginia, 1780-1805,” (Ph.D. diss., University of Florida, 1997). A. Glenn Crothers, “Banks and Economic Development in Post-Revolutionary Northern Virginia, 1790-1812,” Business History Review (1999) 73:1-39. James Karmel, “Banking on the People: Banks, Politics and Market Evolution in Early National Pennsylvania,” (Ph.D. diss., State University of New York at Buffalo, 1999). Robert E. Wright, “Banking and Politics in New York, 1784-1829,” (Ph.D. diss., State University of New York at Buffalo, 1996).
 Joseph Van Fenstermaker, The Development of American Commercial Banking: 1782-1837 (Kent, Ohio: Kent State University, 1965).
 Robert E. Wright, Origins of Commercial Banking in America, 1750-1800 (Madison, Wis.: Madison House, 2001). Robert E. Wright, The Wealth of Nations Rediscovered: Revolution, Integration, and Expansion of the U.S. Financial Sector, 1780-1850, forthcoming. Richard Sylla and Peter Rousseau, “Early U.S. Financial Development,” Economic History Association Conference, 1999.
 Robert E. Wright, Ground Rents Against Populist Historiography: Mid-Atlantic Land Tenure, 1750-1820, Journal of Interdisciplinary History (1998) 29:23-42; John Potts, Ground Rents, and the Early Economic Development of Pottstown, 1752-1776, Bulletin of the Historical Society of Montgomery County, (1999) 32:5-18. Donna J. Rilling, “Building Philadelphia: Real Estate Development in the City of Homes, 1790 to 1837,” (Ph.D. diss., University of Pennsylvania, 1993).
 Wright, Origins of Commercial Banking; Wright, Wealth of Nations Rediscovered.
 The first known female bank president took office in 1902. S. Jay Kleinberg, Women in the United States, 1830-1945 (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1999), 113.
 Julie Matthaei, An Economic History of Women in America: Women’s Work, the Sexual Division of Labor, and the Development of Capitalism (New York: Schocken Books, 1982), 36-50.
 Laurel Ulrich, Good Wives: Image and Reality in the Lives of Women in Northern New England, 1650-1750 (New York: Vintage Books, 1991), 35-50, quotation from 37-38.
 Matthaei, Economic History of Women, 32.
. Major studies include the following: Frances Manges, “Women Shopkeepers, Tavernkeepers, and Artisans in Colonial Philadelphia,” (Ph.D. diss., University of Pennsylvania, 1958); Mary Roberts Parramore, “‘For Her Sole and Separate Use’: Feme Sole Trader Status in Early South Carolina,” (M.A. thesis, University of South Carolina, 1991). Elisabeth Anthony Dexter, Colonial Women of Affairs: A Study of Women in Business and the Professions in America Before 1776 (New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1924). Jean Jordan, “Women Merchants in Colonial New York,” New York History (1977) 58:412-39.
. Dexter, Colonial Women, 10.
. Patricia Cleary, “‘She Merchants’ of Colonial America: Women and Commerce on the Eve of the Revolution,” (Ph.D. diss., Northwestern University, 1989), 211, 225; Patricia Cleary, “‘She Will Be in the Shop’: Women’s Sphere of Trade in Eighteenth-Century Philadelphia and New York,” The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography (1995) 119:181-202.
. John H. Plumb, “Britain & America: The Cultural Heritage,” in Frederic Youngs Jr. et al, eds., The English Heritage (St. Louis: Forum Press, 1978), 8.
. Mary Beth Norton, Liberty’s Daughters: The Revolutionary Experience of American Women, 1750-1800 (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1980), 135.
. Pennsylvania Gazette, 25 March 1755.
 Alice Arnold, Al[i]ce Arnold Her Ciphering Book, 1795, Sarah B. Pollock, Practical Arithmetic Comprising all the rules for transacting business executed at Mrs. Rowan’s Academy, 1810, American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Mass. Contrast with Kerber, who downplays the educational opportunities of women. Linda Kerber, Women of the Republic: Intellect and Ideology in Revolutionary America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1980), 185-231.
. Dexter, Colonial Women, 36; Cleary, “‘She Merchants,'” 44.
. Cleary, “‘She Merchants,'” 8; Cleary, “Women’s Sphere,” 181- 202.
. Dexter, Colonial Women, 37.
. Manges, “Women Shopkeepers,” 69.
 Claudia Goldin, Understanding the Gender Gap: An Economic History of American Women (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), 57.
. Kerber, Women of the Republic, esp. 114-56, 185-231; Linda Kerber, “The Paradox of Women’s Citizenship in the Early Republic: The Case of Martin vs. Massachusetts, 1805,” American Historical Review (1992) 97:349-78.
 Matthaei, Economic History of Women, 101-56; Linda Kerber and Jane De Hart Matthews, eds., Women’s America: Refocusing the Past (New York: Oxford Universitiy Press, 1982), 15.
 Carroll Smith-Rosenberg, “The Female World of Love and Ritual: Relations Between Women in Nineteenth Century America,” Signs: The Journal of Women in Culture and Society (1975) 1:1-30. That article is also in Kerber and Matthews, eds., Women’s America, 156-73.
 Jeanne Boydston, Home and Work: Housework, Wages, and the Ideology of Labor in the Early Republic (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), 120-41.
 Boydston, Home and Work, ix; Kerber, Women of the Republic, 120.
 Harriet Beecher Stowe as quoted in Boydston, Home and Work, 75.
 Boydston, Home and Work, 75-98.
 Claudia Goldin, “The Economic Status of Women in the Early Republic: Quantitative Evidence,” Journal of Interdisciplinary History (1986) 16:375-404; Goldin, Understanding the Gender Gap, 48, 49, 60.
. Parramore, “Feme Sole,” 7. Of the 357 feme sole deeds that she examined, 304 were dated between 1777 and 1824.
. James A. Henretta, The Origins of American Capitalism: Collected Essays (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1991), 237.
 Laurel Ulrich Thatcher, “Martha Ballard and Her Girls: Women’s Work in Eighteenth-Century Maine,” in Stephen Innes, ed., Work and Labor in Early America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1988), 70-105.
 Susan Branson, “Women and the Family Economy in the Early Republic: The Case of Elizabeth Meredith,” Journal of the Early Republic (1996) 16:47-71.
 Lisa Wilson Waciega, “A ‘Man of Business’: The Widow of Means in Southeastern Pennsylvania, 1750-1850,” William and Mary Quarterly (1987) 44:40-64; Lisa Wilson, Life After Death: Widows in Pennsylvania, 1750- 1850 (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1992).
 Joan Jensen, Loosening the Bonds: Mid-Atlantic Farm Women, 1750-1850 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1986), 129-41.
 Boydston, “The Woman Who Wasn’t There,” 190-91; Matthaei, Economic History of Women, 51-73.
 For an overview of that growth, see Diane Lindstrom, Economic Development in the Philadelphia Region, 1810-1850 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1978).
 Jensen, Loosening the Bonds, 79-91.
 Contrast with Kerber, who stresses coverture restrictions. Kerber, Women of the Republic, 114-56.
. Parramore, “Feme Sole,” 6.
. Cleary, “‘She Merchants,'” 83, 106-8.
. Anon., Baron and Feme: A Treatise of the Common Law Concerning Husbands and Wives (Assigns of Richard and Edward Atykns, for John Walthoe, 1700).
. Thomas E. Baylis, An Opinion Regarding the Validity of a Claim for the Value of Goods Sold and Delivered on Credit to a Married Woman, Trading as a feme sole trader, and under other auspices Embarking in Mercantile Business; and herein of the Married Woman’s Act and of the Disabilities of Persons to Enter into Engagements, Promises and Contracts, and of the Limited Nature of Certain Interests in Lands and Tenements not Liable for the Debts of the Beneficiary, and of Conveyances Made by a Husband to his Wife (Philadelphia, 1860).
. Baylis relied heavily on the legal treatises of New York jurist James Kent.
.Strictly speaking, milliners made fancy headgear, especially bonnets. The term came to denote any fancy needleworking, however. “The term milliner covered a wide variety of skills, including making cloaks, muffs, hoops, gloves, riding habits and petticoats” Miriam Moss, Women and Business (London: Wayland Publishers Ltd., 1990), 7.
. Mantuamakers made fancy dresses and cloaks. Norton, Liberty’s Daughters, 138.
 Goldin, “Economic Status,” 396.
. Sherburne (New York) Olive Branch, 18 March 1807.
. New York Weekly Museum, 27 March 1802.
. New York People’s Advocate, 23 February 1806.
. Bath Farmers’ Advocate and Steuben Advertiser, 28 August 1828.
. Geneva Palladium, 16 June 1824.
. Rochester Telegraph, 28 March 1820.
. Ithaca Republican Chronicle, 3 January 1821.
. New York Weekly Museum, 23 November 1805.
. New York Weekly Museum, 17 May 1806.
. New York Weekly Museum, 24 May 1806.
. New York Weekly Museum, 21 May 1808.
. Bath Farmers’ Advocate and Steuben Advertiser, 19 April 1827.
. Ithaca Republican Chronicle, 13 June 1821.
. New York Weekly Museum, 8 December 1810.
. St. Lawrence Gazette, 5 May 1818.
. Ithaca Republican Chronicle, 24 January 1821.
. Ithaca Republican Chronicle, 4 July 1821.
. Ithaca Republican Chronicle, 9 January 1822.
. Ithaca American Journal, 7 August 1822.
. Plattsburgh (New York) Republican, 22 November 1817.
. Cherry Valley (New York) Gazette, 26 November 1818.
. Rochester Telegraph, 21 January 1823.
. Rochester Telegraph, 30 June 1828.
. Rochester Telegraph, 8 September 1828.
. Rochester Telegraph, 12 July 1828.
. Belle Otis, Diary of a Milliner (New York: Hurd and Houghton, 1867).
. From internal evidence, the diary appears to have been set in the late 1850s and early 1860s. Otis mentions Swedenborgianism and wartime price inflation, among other things.
. Mordecai M. Noah, Essays of Howard (New York: National Advocate, 1820).
. Albany Plough Boy, 4 September 1819.
. Albany Plough Boy, 11 September, 2 October 1819.
. Rochester Telegraph, 4 June 1822.
 “Mr. Carey has one Note of 5[,]000 due on Wednesday, & one for 400 on [F]riday next. it will be time enough for you to offer a Note for 500 D[olla]rs. on tuesday for discount – but it [mss. torn] necessary for you to send it in on Monday. I shall take Care of Mr. Carey’s Credit, if you send in the Note as far as the above Sum,” Thomas Willing to Mrs. Mathew Cary, Philadelphia, 14 February 1795, Lea & Febiger Papers, H.S.P.
. Probably Isaac Roosevelt or Nicholas Roosevelt.
. Catharine “Kitty” Duer to William Duer, New York, 17 April ?, William Duer Papers, 1752-1802 New York Historical Society. The first of May was the traditional day of moving in New York City in that era.
. Alexander Macomb to William Constable, New York, 15 June 1792, Constable-Pierpont Papers, New York Public Library.
. Jonathan Elliot, The Funding System of the United States and of Great Britain, With Some Tabular Facts (Washington: Blair and Rives, 1845), 117.
 Indian Commissioner Certificates, 1759-1760, Gratz Collection, H.S.P.
. “Five scrips Paper also inclosed the property of a Poor Woman make the most of them and return a Certif. singly for it.” John Delafield to James Fairlee, New York, 4 February 1785, John Delafield Letterbook, New York Public Library. See also the Loan Office Book of Thomas Smith, Continental Loan Officer in the State of Pennsylvania, H.S.P., for the receipts of at least ten women for indents (certificates for the payment of interest due on earlier certificates).
. New York Packet, 30 September 1784.
 Abstract of Certificates of the State Debt of Pennsylvania received by Thomas Smith Commissioner of Loans for the said State on account of a Loan to the United States, RG-4, Records of the Comptroller General, State Debt, 1780- 1797. Abstracts of Continental Certificates, 1791-1797, Box 1, Folder 1, Pennsylvania State Archives.
. Copy of the Will of Ann Robertson, 27 January 1809, Dreer, H.S.P.
. John Jacob Astor to Walter Mead, Cashier of the Merchants Bank, New York, 14 September 1835, Vol. 17, Letterbook, J. J. Astor, 1831-1838, John Jacob Astor Papers, Baker Library, Harvard University.
. “Women frequently owned stock in banks.” Lamoreaux, Insider Lending, 2 n.2.
. For an example of a widow feeling the pinch of inflation during the Revolution, see Abigail Willing, sister of future banker Thomas Willing, to Robert Morris in the Levis Collection, Willing and Morris Business Papers, 1756-1777, H.S.P. Abigail dunned Morris three times in late 1780 and early 1781. Though she admitted she well knew that collecting hard money at this time is attended with some Inconvenience to every person,” she insisted on payment in coin, not depreciated paper.
. Unfortunately, the Bank of the United States was no longer in operation when this letter was written. Perhaps the writer was referring to the Bank of America. Another possibility is that the letter was dated 1818 instead of 1813. I have not located the original letter, so I must rely on the transcription in the New York Genealogical & Biographical Society Record.
. Marie Antoinette Nichols to Mrs. James Ashton Bayard [of Washington], New York, 15 October 1813. New York Genealogical & Biographical Society Record, Vol. 24.
. Mary E. Ruwell, Eighteenth-Century Capitalism: The Formation of American Marine Insurance Companies (New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1993), 160-1.
. This is almost 14 percent. Of course, at the time of subscription it was not clear to everyone that the Manhattan Company was going to be a bank. It is also quite certain that most of these women subscribed in order to give the Livingstons, Ludlows, and other aristocratic Republican families a controlling share of the stock. These women owned the stock outright, however, and could theoretically cast their votes, or give their proxies, to whomever they chose.
. Nancy Patterson Bright Collection, Bank of Pennsylvania Mss., 1790-1831, H.S.P.
 Commercial and Farmers Bank of Baltimore Director’s Minutes, 1810, Ms. No. 2189, Maryland Historical Society.
. Henry Charles Carey, The Credit System in France, Great Britain, and the United States (Philadelphia: Carey, Lea, & Blanchard, 1838), 82.
 Central Bank of Worcester Business Records, Stock Record Book, 1830-1864, American Antiquarian Society.
 Bank of Chester County, Stock Ledger & Dividend Ledger, 1814- 1822, Ms. 78004, Chester County Historical Society.
 Bank of Chester County, Record of Stock Transfers, 1814-1872, ms. 78010, Chester County Historical Society.
 Worcester Bank Records, folders 7, 8, Stock Certificates and Transfers, 1812-1829, 1844-1846, American Antiquarian Society.
 Schuylkill Bridge Subscription List, Society Coll., H.S.P., n.d.
 Schuylkill Permanent Bridge Co. Stockbooks, H.S.P.
 Chester County Silk Company, Ms. 7237, Chester County Historical Society.
 [Secretary of State of Maine], An Abstract of the Returns of Corporations, Made to the Office of the Secretary of State, in January, 1845, for the Year 1844, (Augusta, Maine: William T. Johnson, 1845).
 Agricultural and Mechanics Association of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Constitution and Stock Transfer Book, 1840-1846, H.S.P.
 Asaph R. Nichols [Secretary of State], List of Stockholders, With Amount of Stock Held by Each, in the Banks of Maine, (Augusta, Maine: Smith & Robinson, 1839); Samuel P. Benson [Secretary of State], List of Stockholders, (With Amount of Stock Held by Each,) in the Banks of Maine, (Augusta, Maine: Severance & Dorr, 1841).
 John G. Sawyer [Secretary of State], List of Stockholders, (With Amount of Stock Held by Each Jan. 1 1853,) in the Banks of Maine, (Augusta, Maine: William T. Johnson, 1853).
. Carey, Credit System, 82-83.
. New York Weekly Visitor, and Ladies’ Museum, 1817-1820, Vol. 1, 1817-1818, 94-95. The organization owned around $600 worth of bank stock.
. Jacob Barker to Benjamin F. Butler, Bloomingdale, 17 November 1822, Gratz Collection, H.S.P.
. Naomi Lamoreaux argued women “occasionally borrowed” from banks, but offered no examples, much less statistics. Lamoreaux, Insider Lending, 2 n.2. Other secondary sources have made passing references to women getting bank discounts. Richard H. Kilbourne Jr., Debt, Investment, Slaves: Credit Relations in East Feliciana Parish, Louisiana, 1825- 1885 (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1995), 21.
. Rebecca Cadwalader to Thomas McEuen & Co., 17 March 1803, Gratz Collection, H.S.P.
. Bank of North America Papers, Individual Ledgers, H.S.P.
. Bank of Germantown, Individual Ledger D, H.S.P.
. Bank of Utica, Individual Ledger, Oneida County Historical Society, Utica, New York, 1813.
 Farmers Bank Discount Book, Reading, Pa., 1831-36, H.S.P..
. Federal census, 1790.
.Federal census, 1790.
.Wistar Papers, Gratz Collection, H.S.P.
.Her bank book (checkbook) survives at the H.S.P.
. Individual Ledgers, 1790-1803, Bank of North America Papers, H.S.P.
. “LOST NOTES The subscriber had three notes, on one piece of paper, for five hundred dollars, dated June 21st, 1819, executed by James Yates, Catharine Yates, and Mariah Yates, and made payable to Christopher Yates … all persons are hereby cautioned against purchasing the same, as they are the property of the said Christopher Yates.” Saratoga Sentinel, 19 April 1820. “Recd of Mrs. Honor Meredith One hundred Pounds Pennsylvania Currency which we hereby Promise to repay within five days after demand & if not paid before the 1st day of October next then Interest is to commence thereon form said 1st day of October.” Willing, Morris & Co. were the makers of this promissory note, 2 June 1775, Levis Collection, Willing and Morris Business Papers, 1756-1777, H.S.P.
. William B. Astor to Mrs. Elizabeth Astor, New York, 7 April 1834, Vol. 17, Letterbook, J. J. Astor, 1831-1838, John Jacob Astor Papers, Baker Library, Harvard University.
. John Jacob Astor to Elizabeth Astor, New York, 15 October 1814, Vol. 16, Copy of Letter, J. J. Astor, 1813-1815, John Jacob Astor Papers, Baker Library, Harvard University.
. Margaret Duncan to John Enver, Philadelphia, 12 December 1772, 2 May 1774, and other letters, Cadwalader Collection, Phineas Bond Section, John Enver – Margaret Duncan correspondence, H.S.P.
. Geneva (New York) Palladium, 20 November 1822.
. Women made over 10 percent of the checks in the Girard Papers dated in 1830. Webster Christman and Fritz Redlich, “Early American Checks and an Example of Their Use,” Business History Review (1967), 285-302.
. There are two checks made out to women in the Box 116, Folder 1: Bank Checks, 1827 – 1830, Erastus Corning Papers, Albany Institute of Art and History, Albany, N.Y.
. “To the Cashier of the Bank of Columbia, Pay to Mrs. Granfurd or Bearer, four hundred Dollars.” Thomas Ferguson Livingston, check, 7 July 1812, Livingston Family Papers, New York Public Library.
. Rebecca Cadwalader to Thomas McEuen & Co., 17 March 1803, Gratz Collection, H.S.P.
. Alexander Hamilton to ?, Philadelphia, 30 September 1794, Harold Syrett ed., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, Vol XVI August 1794 – December 1794 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1972).
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. “Exhibited the original note … to a woman at the house of James H. Sinacre the Maker thereof & demanded of her payment of its contents; whereunto she answered, Mr. Sinacre was not within, and she did not know anything about said Note.” See the protested note signed by Nicholas Bleecker Jr., Public Notary, Albany, 13 January 1830 in Folder 51: Van Schaack Papers of the Abraham Van Vechten Papers, New York State Library, Albany, New York.
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. Moses Bagg, Memorial History of Utica, N.Y. (Syracuse: D. Mason & Co., 1892).
. One such form survives in Folder 62 of the Abraham Van Vechten Papers at the New York State Library in Albany, New York. The forms are for the “District Court of the United State of American For the Northern District of New York.” The form reads in part: Martha Bradstreet of Utica “who is an Alien, and a Subject of the King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland” deserves one quarter of 20 houses, 20 warehouses, etc.
. Ithaca Republican Chronicle, 20 February 1822.
. Hudson (New York) Northern Whig, 2 March 1812.
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. Albany Balance, 9 March 1810.
 Angel Kwolek-Folland, Incorporating Women: A History of Women and Business in the United States (New York: Twayne Publishers, 1998).
. Waciega, Life After Death.
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