Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tea For Two.............

Tomorrow is Tax Day and there is a great deal of talk about all the "tea party" protest that are going to be held all over America. I will wait and see what happens with the protest to see if they make any impression on the powers that be. I get the feeling that they will not receive much coverage in the media.

However I am glad to see that people are starting to stand up and speak out, rather than being a bunch of sheep. So these protest are good because it will give people a voice to speak up for what they believe in. I just hope that this effort isn't taken over by nutcases or hard core right wingers.

I was doing some reading on the original Tea Party over the past few days and found out a few fascinating things about it that I thought I would share with you all. Fair warning however, I look at ALL the facts of history, not just the ones that agree with the points that we were taught in school. Sometimes these facts just don't make our founding fathers look like the paragons of virtue that we were taught they were. I don't consider that as a negative, as a matter of fact, it makes me think more of them and their accomplishments considering their faults. It makes me feel like even a mutt like me could accomplish anything. -grin-

O.K. the overview of the Boston tea party goes like this.

By 1773 the colonies had been jousting with the English Parliament over the cost of the French and Indian War. The British point of view was that they had just fought a World War and the American colonies had reaped the benefits of that war. It was only fair that they helped pay for the cost of that war and the continuing cost of providing protection from the Royal Navy and British Army. There had been several attempts at obtaining funding from taxes with various duties on items imported into the colonies. These had been fought against with various protest and non-importation agreements and boycotts. The argument was that the colonies could not be taxed without their agreement and without proper representation in the British Parliament. Now this was for the most part smoke and mirrors on the part of out founding fathers, because there was no way that they would agree to representation in the Parliament, since they would have a very small number of votes and would be out voted on almost every matter.

Sam Adams, the leading firebrand of the protest against the taxes had at one time been a tax collector himself. He had difficulties in turning in all the tax money that he collected. Some say that he was too tender-hearted to collect tax from poor people, others say that he was just a poor record keeper, a few said that he embezzled the money. No matter what the situation, it put Adams and the royal governor of Massachusetts, Thomas Hutchinson at swords point.

Adams, being no one's fool, organized a political action committee which he named the Sons of Liberty. While there were important and influential Bostonians in the Sons, there were others, such as unemployed dockworkers, tavern idlers, sailors, and others who would play patriot for a shilling or two.

Of course, this kind of political action needed financing so into the breech stepped John Hancock. A man who was described by contemporaries as having deep pockets and shallow thoughts. Hancock was one of the wealthiest men in Boston. Some of this money came from smuggling goods in to the colonies to avoid paying duties to the British government. Now here is the interesting thing. Some of these smuggled items consisted of shipments of tea from Holland. Smuggled tea could be sold at a considerable savings to the buyer, and a considerable profit to the seller. Keep that in the back of your mind.

In 1773 all taxes had been lifted from the colonies. The British Parliament figured to give it another go and also to help out the British East India Company at the same time, by bringing in a large shipment of tea into the colonies. Since the shipment of tea was so large, it was meant to sell very cheaply even with the tax charge placed on it. The tax was so small that it was said that the average citizen would be required to drink gallons of tea before paying a pence in tax. The tax was in place only to prove that Parliament had the RIGHT to tax.

Even with the tax in place, the suggested price of the East Indian tea was so low` as to undercut the price of the smuggled Dutch tea thus hurting the smugglers. On December 16th 1773, it all came to a head. In a meeting at the Old South Meeting house in Boston, Adams addressed a crowd of around 7000 people some of which whether by a pre-arranged signal or not, left the meeting, went to the harbor, boarded the three tea ships and dumped 342 chest of tea into the harbor.

Now this tea was the property of the East India Company and they of course wanted someone to pay for it. Since there were no suspects in the destruction of the tea, the British Parliament passed the Intolerable Acts, which first and foremost shut the port of Boston until the tea had been paid for.

Of course this act and others passed at the same time turned a lot of fence sitters into people who saw their rights as being threatened and could should rightly be considered to be another step in the direction of a final break with England.

Now the jury is still out as to whether or not Adams and Hancock organized this event to make a stand for the liberties of the people, or perhaps to assure that the flow of money that Hancock was receiving from smuggled goods continued. No matter which, it all led to the eventual organization and development of what I consider to be the greatest nation on earth.

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