18th century, authenticity, common people, interpretation, living history, Monmouth NJ, New Jersey, Quakers, Research, Revolutionary War
Most sadly, my obnoxious yellow gown will not be finished for this coming weekend, so I will not be flaunting my goods in such flashy clothing. Instead, I will be dressed like a giant version of the darling Miss B, whom I fear does wear the Space Invaders print better than I.
The real point, of course, is the action expected for Saturday, June 25, at the Craig House. The press release is fairly general about how we’ll be representin’ New Jersey’s 18th century civil war, and no one has leaped up to portray Little Anthony the [Quaker] Insurrectionist, but here’s the scene:
Craig House is empty the day of the battle. John Craig is with the Continental Army, leaving Ann Craig to flee with chattel, child, and two slaves in two wagons. This leaves the house and remaining property vulnerable to occupation and depredation.
An armed member of the Association for Retaliation is snooping around the Craig house and catches Loyalist and Quaker refugees who are squatting/hiding, as well as a “London” trader. He can’t let them go, and he is afraid to move them for fear of the British by day and the Tories by night. The Retaliator is joined by a local farmer who has stopped by to check on Mrs Craig’s safety in the surrounding commotion of the troops moving towards the coming battle.
“Disaffected” smugglers use the chaos of the war in New Jersey to continue trading with the British and Loyalists. The “London trade” feeds the taste for tea, fabrics, rum, lemons, and sugar that even the Revolutionaries cannot shake.
Quakers are viewed with suspicion and animosity for their pacifist, anti-slavery views, which gives the impression that they are Loyalists. Harassed in Philadelphia by various committees requisitioning blankets and other goods; by 1778, the Quakers’ abolitionist views make them vastly unpopular in Monmouth County.
These characters in search of a plot will encounter each other at Craig House and, with some history improv, portray the tension and conflict between New Jersey residents in the Revolutionary period. Want to come out? Craig House is here, and a visitors’ guide is here.