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Associations

ASSOCIATIONS

ASSOCIATIONS. An association is an organization of social equals agreeing to work for a common purpose or to promote a common cause. The twelve English colonies in North America applied this name to their organizations for boycotting British manufactured goods prior to the American Revolution. Merchants in the cities of New York, Boston, and Philadelphia each created formally named associations of nonimportation to protest the Stamp Act in the fall of 1765. These associations dissolved with the Stamp Act's repeal in March 1766, but reformed to protest the Townsend Acts in June 1767. On 18 May 1769, George Washington and George Mason introduced to the Virginia House of Burgesses legislation to establish a colonywide association for nonimportation. The Virginia Association called for the cultivation of crops other than tobacco, an expansion of local manufacturing, a boycott all British goods, and a refusal to accept new slaves into the colony. In the next two years, eight additional colonies created similar associations with locally elected committees of compliance and committees of correspondence. On 20 October 1774, the First Continental Congress established the Continental Association, with stiff penalties for nonobservance of the boycotts declared by Congress. Its committees often became ad hoc local governments during the Revolution.

Organizations for purposes other than boycotts also called themselves "associations." During the Revolution, ad hoc militias took the name to justify local looting and pillaging. In New Jersey, the moderately pro-British Association for Retaliation fought the more radical Board of Associated Loyalists between 1780 and 1783 as much as they did the rebels. "Association" later became a popular name for professional and other voluntary organizations in the United States. In 2001, 7,700 national organizations used the term "association," while only 2,700 used the nearly synonymous term "society."

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Jensen, Merrill. The Founding of a Nation: A History of the American Revolution, 1763–1776. New York: Oxford University Press, 1968.

Ragsdale, Bruce. A Planters' Republic: The Search for Economic Independence in Revolutionary Virginia. Madison, Wisc.: Madison House, 1996.

BillOlbrich

See alsoBoston Committee of Correspondence ; Committees of Correspondence ; Continental Congress ; Virginia Resolves .

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associations

associations were a stage in the development of lobbies to express opinion and influence policy. They began innocuously as demonstrations of loyalty at times of crisis. Burghley and Walsingham sponsored an association to protect Queen Elizabeth in 1584 against the machinations of Mary, queen of Scots' supporters. Another association to support and, if necessary, avenge William III followed the discovery of Fenwick's conspiracy in 1696: the signatories wore orange ribbons with gold letters declaring ‘National Association for King William’. The archbishop of York launched an association in 1745 to repulse the young pretender and safeguard the Hanoverians. But associations could be turned to other purposes. The Yorkshire Association in 1780 called for economical reform and Lord George Gordon's Protestant Association deplored concessions to the catholics. The speaker of the House of Commons reflected conservative attitudes when he expressed his ‘total disapproval of the committees and associations: they were in his opinion extremely improper.’ In the 1790s, under the shadow of the French Revolution, Lord Henderland denounced the Friends of the People—an association for parliamentary reform: ‘what occasion for such associations, with such names?’ Shelburne in 1795 referred to associations as a discovery as momentous in politics as any in science, and J. F. Stephen, in his sardonic way, observed in 1850 that ‘for the diffusion of any blessing of which mankind can partake, there is a committee’.

J. A. Cannon

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