December 16, 1773: The Boston Tea Party
Resistance then and “resist we much” now
Today, December 16th, is the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party, a response to a series of tyrannical actions taken by the distant King George III. Although often downplayed as a fevered response to a single piece of legislation, the Tea Act, the Boston Tea Party represented an act of defiance against a long list of “repeated injuries and usurpations.” Each of which were enumerated three years later in the Declaration of Independence.
Following is a brief history of the Boston Tea Party:
In Boston Harbor, a group of Massachusetts colonists disguised as Mohawk Indians board three British tea ships and dump 342 chests of tea into the harbor.
The midnight raid, popularly known as the “Boston Tea Party,” was in protest of the British Parliament’s Tea Act of 1773, a bill designed to save the faltering East India Company by greatly lowering its tea tax and granting it a virtual monopoly on the American tea trade. The low tax allowed the East India Company to undercut even tea smuggled into America by Dutch traders, and many colonists viewed the act as another example of taxation tyranny.
When three tea ships, the Dartmouth, the Eleanor, and the Beaver, arrived in Boston Harbor, the colonists demanded that the tea be returned to England. After Massachusetts Governor Thomas Hutchinson refused, Patriot leader Samuel Adams organized the “tea party” with about 60 members of the Sons of Liberty, his underground resistance group. The British tea dumped in Boston Harbor on the night of December 16 was valued at some $18,000.
Parliament, outraged by the blatant destruction of British property, enacted the Coercive Acts, also known as the Intolerable Acts, in 1774. The Coercive Acts closed Boston to merchant shipping, established formal British military rule in Massachusetts, made British officials immune to criminal prosecution in America, and required colonists to quarter British troops. The colonists subsequently called the first Continental Congress to consider a united American resistance to the British.
The Tea Act, designed to protect another British colony’s business interest at the expense of the new American colony, directly influenced the ideals of our future constitutional republic—rejection of distant, central control of the economy and of taxation without representation among them.
The very things the Obama administration threatened and that fueled Rick Santelli‘s epic rant promising a “Chicago Tea Party.”
It’s interesting to note that today’s “resistance” is motivated not by large, fundamental principles of freedom, individual responsibility, and the consent of the governed. Instead, many responding to Boston’s annual call for tea to be sent in and then dumped in Boston Harbor are motivated by Trump Derangement Syndrome: “I participate in this act of protest to register my resistance to the anti-immigrant, anti-environment and anti-health care policies of Donald J. Trump.” Scratch that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness stuff; they stand for open borders, eco-fascism, and socialized medicine.
George Hewes’ 1834 eyewitness account is riveting.
It was now evening, and I immediately dressed myself in the costume of an Indian, equipped with a small hatchet, which I and my associates denominated the tomahawk, with which, and a club, after having painted my face and hands with coal dust in the shop of a blacksmith, I repaired to Griffin’s wharf, where the ships lay that contained the tea. When I first appeared in the street after being thus disguised, I fell in with many who were dressed, equipped and painted as I was, and who fell in with me and marched in order to the place of our destination.
When we arrived at the wharf, there were three of our number who assumed an authority to direct our operations, to which we readily submitted. They divided us into three parties, for the purpose of boarding the three ships which contained the tea at the same time. The name of him who commanded the division to which I was assigned was Leonard Pitt. The names of the other commanders I never knew.
We were immediately ordered by the respective commanders to board all the ships at the same time, which we promptly obeyed. The commander of the division to which I belonged, as soon as we were on board the ship appointed me boatswain, and ordered me to go to the captain and demand of him the keys to the hatches and a dozen candles. I made the demand accordingly, and the captain promptly replied, and delivered the articles; but requested me at the same time to do no damage to the ship or rigging.
We then were ordered by our commander to open the hatches and take out all the chests of tea and throw them overboard, and we immediately proceeded to execute his orders, first cutting and splitting the chests with our tomahawks, so as thoroughly to expose them to the effects of the water.
In about three hours from the time we went on board, we had thus broken and thrown overboard every tea chest to be found in the ship, while those in the other ships were disposing of the tea in the same way, at the same time. We were surrounded bv British armed ships, but no attempt was made to resist us.
We then quietly retired to our several places of residence, without having any conversation with each other, or taking any measures to discover who were our associates; nor do I recollect of our having had the knowledge of the name of a single individual concerned in that affair, except that of Leonard Pitt, the commander of my division, whom I have mentioned. There appeared to be an understanding that each individual should volunteer his services, keep his own secret, and risk the consequence for himself. No disorder took place during that transaction, and it was observed at that time that the stillest night ensued that Boston had enjoyed for many months.
One thing that stands out to me is the structure of the resistance. There was a very loose organizational structure and even the participants were often unknown to one another, or wished to project this impression due to the inevitable retribution from King George.
Centuries later, the Tea Party movement would mirror this lack of centralization of power and organization. Who can forget the “I am the Tea Party leader” videos and blog posts that surfaced in response to a report from Breitbart that the Clintons were planning to take down the Tea Party by targeting Tea Party leaders?
The Business Insider reported at the time:
Bill Clinton and James Carville are heading an effort to attack the Tea Party movement and discredit it in any way possible, according to Andrew Breitbart’s BigGovernment.com.
“Big Government has learned that Clintonistas are plotting a ‘push/pull’ strategy. They plan to identify 7-8 national figures active in the tea party movement and engage in deep opposition research on them. If possible, they will identify one or two they can perhaps ‘turn’, either with money or threats, to create a mole in the movement. The others will be subjected to a full-on smear campaign. (Has MSNBC already been notified?)
“Big Government has also learned that James Carville will head up the effort,” according to the Capital Confidential feature on Breitbart’s site.
No surprise there, really, as the Clintonistas have a long history of going after political opponents in such fashion. But this operation is going to be especially difficult because of the Spartacus Factor, identified by the Tea Party Patriots. Don’t know what the Spartacus Factor is?
Each year the Boston Tea Party Museum sponsors a reenactment of the original Boston Tea Party, and it’s quite an event.
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the Green Dragon aka the stomping ground of the Sons of Liberty is still in Boston. rumor was John Hancock owned the tea & ships
Excellent article, Fuzzy. I didn’t know the history.
Thanks so much, snopercod! I love our history so much and sharing it when I can is a blessing. 🙂
Just imagine if John Fonda-Kerry had been around in that era. He’d have ratted out every single patriot and accepted compensation from the enemy for his betrayal.
We could always dump Heinz ketchup into Boston harbor.
Well, to my taste, Heinz makes great ketchup and other products. It’s just regrettable that Senator Heinz had regrettable misfortune of marrying a yoko ono look-alike ninny who then queefed herself to Fonda-Kerry.
Family legend has it that a relative of mine was a tea party participant. This may be slightly more reliable than Elizabeth Warren’s family legend, as I did have ancestors in the area.
The anti-Trump “resistance” is an insulting reference to these men who stood for freedom from excessive taxation and control.
I was appalled to find out that at the Old North Church in Boston I was going to buy some Tea Party Tea, and then found out they’d charge me tax on it.