Changing History Behind the Scenes: Dancing and Flirting

People dancing in a ballroom.

Women are not mentioned as much as men are in history books. The reason for this is that they rarely had prominent political or military roles when historic events took place. However, this is not to say that women were powerless. Many women played important roles behind the scenes, for example during the long negotiations to create a united Canada in 1864.

Evening balls

Negotiations on Canadian unification were held at a conference that both male politicians and their immediate family members attended. Discussions were tough, and as a negotiating tactic, wives and even daughters of leading politicians were approached by other politicians. The strategic contacts usually took place during informal conference evening balls, where the women were entertained and asked to dance by policymakers who tried to charm themselves into their affection.

Admittedly, the late-night flirting and dancing could result in real amorous feelings developing, but in line with political strategy, they were usually testaments to the influence women had on their husbands and fathers. Once wives and daughters were won over, policymakers believed, their politically active men would have a more difficult time resisting people or ideas already liked by their loved ones.