But before we get to the bee, let's look at the national crisis. From the History of Woman Suffrage, we read:
In other words, "American-made" became so expensive during the war that ladies were purchasing imported clothing, jewelry and accessories. This had created a disastrous trade deficit, threatening a United States recession.
Therefore, in 1864, a "Ladies National Covenant" was formed, their pledge being this:
"For three years, or during the war, we pledge ourselves and the country, to purchase no imported goods where those of American manufacture can be obtained, such as "dress goods of velvet, silks, grenadines, India crape and imported organdies, India lace and broche shawls, fine wrought laces and embroideries, watches and precious stones, hair ornaments, fans, artificial flowers and feathers, carpets, furniture, silks and velvets, painted china, ormolu, bronze, marble, ornaments, and mirrors."
Pictured are some of the imported items banned by the Covenant's Pledge, besides fabric.
The Ladies' Badge
Therefore, a national badge was adopted for those who had taken the Pledge. "The emblem of this Covenant was a black or gilt bee, worn as a pin fastening the national colors, upon the hair, arm or bosom, as a public recognition of membership."
Want to wear your lovely 1863 imported silk dress? Not to worry, just wear a Bee Cockade with it and no one will doubt your patriotic principles!
"The L.N.C. Badge is manufactured expressly for the L.N.C., by B.T. Hayward, 208 Broadway, New York. It is made of fine gold plate and beautifully enameled. Agents are wanted in every city and town in the Union.
"I will send a sample together with my wholesale Illustrated Circular on the receipt of $1. I also have the appropriate Badges adopted by every Corps in the Army, together with a full assortment of Campaign, Masonic, and Society Badges, Gold Pens and Pencils and Jewelry of all kinds."
My Bee Badges
For those who want to portray the 1860s "Buy American" campaign - or those who want a badge for a modern "Buy American" campaign - I offer a repro of this cockade! My bee looks very similar to the original and it's fastened with the appropriate "national colors" of red, white and blue.
Many thanks to Anna Worden Bauersmith for her wonderful research that got me interested in this topic.