The December 16, 1773, Boston Tea Party Was More About Freedom and Liberty Than Just the Price of Tea
December 16th marks the 240th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party. On that cold night, a group of American patriots, dressed as Native American Mohawks and inspired (some say physically led) by Sam Adams, raided three British merchant ships and dumped 342 chests of tea into the Boston harbor, all in the name of freedom and liberty.
In an early example of a government bailout, the British Parliament granted its cronies in the East India Company a virtual monopoly in the tea trade and lowered the tariffs. The Tea Act was just what the East India Company needed to unload its excess of tea and recover from its financial difficulties.
The colonial rebel leaders knew that if the British government could grant a monopoly on the sale of tea, nothing would stop it from taking over and taxing the entire colonial economy. As the people of Boston watched with quiet satisfaction, tea valued at about 10,000 British pounds sterling (about $1 million in today’s money) littered the waters around this stubborn colonial town.
Unable to affix personal blame, the British decided to punish the entire Massachusetts Colony. Among other things, the British closed the port of Boston, cancelled the Massachusetts charter of government and placed the colony under the military rule of British General Gage.
The British government showed that it was willing to treat its American colonials with the same highhanded arrogance as any other colonial possession. Benjamin Franklin, the colonial agent in Great Britain, saw with his own eyes how the British treated their own people close to the borders of the British Empire. During his tour of Scotland and Ireland in 1772, Franklin wrote:
In these Countries, a small part of the Society are Landlords, great Noblemen and Gentlemen, extremely opulent, living in the highest Affluence: the Bulk of People Tenants, extremely poor, living in the most sordid Wretchedness in dirty Hovels of Mud and Straw, and cloathed (sic) only in Rags.
The rest, as they say, is history. (Or is history beginning to repeat itself?) What began as tax resistance, ended with American independence eight years later. At first, the Americans wanted only to be treated as free Englishmen with full equality as any other British subject. King George and his toadying elite never viewed the colonials as anything other than minions whose sole purpose was to benefit the Empire. This is beginning to sound all too familiar!
The American Revolution was all about proving that King George had completely misread the Americans’ craving for freedom and liberty. He still didn’t get the message delivered quite clearly in our Declaration of Independence. When Lord Cornwallis sailed home defeated, everyone learned that the American Revolution was about more than the price of tea. It was about Liberty and Freedom!
Liberty it seems we are losing with each passing day and the freedom that all patriots will once again not hesitate to stand and fight for…
At *your* service,