Thursday, November 6, 2008

Here is some history we can all relate to...

How many of you know about the Boston Tea Party? Not that it happened, hopefully anyone with a junior high education is aware of the incident. But how many of you know the real reason, the true cause of this bold and seditious act against His Majesties Government?

Well, it was the same thing that has been on the lips of everyone from Presidential candidates to Joe The Plumber for months and painful months.

Taxes. Overtaxation, Unrestricted Taxation supported by a distant and hostile government, Taxation without representation.
This was the spark that ignited the powder keg that was the American Colonies in the late 1770's. And there is a good chance that it will be the same spark that ignites the 3rd American Revolution sometime in our not to distant future.
The chart at the top of this post was lifted (with all credit due) from a website called The Conservative Ledger ( A great site, check it out). It shows that the tax burden in this country is carried, quite unfairly, by the top wage earners. Keep in mind this is % of a total, not dollars paid. A flat tax, the only truly fair kind of tax, would have the top wage earners paying larger dollar amounts, but not carrying more than their fair share of the tax burden.
How did taxation lead a group of America's best and brightest (the group responsible, the Sons Of Liberty included Paul Revere, Thomas Young, Joseph Warren, Alexander McDougall, Patrick Henry, John Hancock, Isaac Sears, John Lamb, James Otis, Marinus Willett, John Adams, and Samuel Adams) to conduct an act of vandalism against the Crown? To take action against a government they had all been raised with and accepted since birth? To risk life and limb and take a stand against the most powerful force on earth?
Well, like most stories, this one is best told by Wikipedia:
The Boston Tea Party was an act of direct action protest by the American colonists against the British Government in which they destroyed many crates of tea belonging to the British East India Company on ships in Boston Harbor. The incident, which took place on Thursday, December 16, 1773, has been seen as helping to spark the American Revolution and remains to this day one of the most iconic events in American history. The Stamp Act of 1765 and the Townshend Acts of 1767 angered colonists regarding British decisions on taxing the colonies despite a lack of representation in the Westminster Parliament. One of the protesters was John Hancock, a wealthy Bostonian. In 1768, Hancock's ship Liberty was seized by customs officials, and he was charged with smuggling. He was defended by John Adams, and the charges were eventually dropped. However, Hancock later faced several hundred more indictments.
Hancock organized a
boycott of tea from China sold by the British East India Company, whose sales in the colonies then fell from 320,000 pounds (145,000 kg) to 520 pounds (240 kg). By 1773, the company had large debts, huge stocks of tea in its warehouses and no prospect of selling it because smugglers, such as Hancock, were importing tea from the Netherlands without paying import taxes. In response to this the British government passed the Tea Act, which allowed the East India Company to sell tea to the colonies directly and without "payment of any customs or duties whatsoever" in Britain, instead paying the much lower American duty. This tax break allowed the East India Company to sell tea for half the old price and cheaper than the price of tea in England, enabling them to undercut the prices offered by the colonial merchants and smugglers.
Many American colonists, particularly the wealthy smugglers, resented this favored treatment of a major company, which employed lobbyists and wielded great influence in Parliament. Protests resulted in both Philadelphia and New York, but it was those in Boston that made their mark in history. Still reeling from the
Hutchinson letters, Bostonians suspected the removal of the Tea Tax was simply another attempt by the British parliament to squash American freedom. Samuel Adams, wealthy smugglers, and others who had profited from the smuggled tea called for agents and consignees of the East India Company tea to abandon their positions; consignees who hesitated were terrorized through attacks on their warehouses and even their homes. The first of many ships which arrived at the Boston harbor carrying the East India Company tea was Dartmouth arriving in late November 1773. A standoff ensued between the port authorities and the Sons of Liberty. Samuel Adams whipped up the growing crowd by demanding a series of protest meetings. Coming from both the city and outlying areas, thousands attended these meetings; every meeting larger than the one before. The crowds shouted defiance not only at the British Parliament, the East India Company, and Dartmouth but at Governor Thomas Hutchinson as well, who was still struggling to have the tea landed. On the night of December 16, the protest meeting, held at Boston's Old South Meeting House, was the largest yet seen. An estimated 8,000 people were said to have attended.
The owner of the Dartmouth and its captain agreed that the tea would be returned to England and similar promises were obtained from the owners of two more vessels en route, the Eleanor and the Beaver. However, Governor Hutchinson ordered the harbor to be blocked and he would not allow any tea-bearing vessels to leave until they had been unloaded. On Thursday, December 16, 1773, the evening before the tea was due to be landed, Captain Roach appealed to Governor Hutchinson to allow his ship to leave without unloading its tea. When Roach returned and reported Hutchinson's refusal to a massive protest meeting, Samuel Adams said to the assembly "This meeting can do nothing more to save the country". As though on cue, the Sons of Liberty thinly disguised as either Mohawk or Narragansett Indians and armed with small hatchets and clubs, headed toward Griffin's Wharf (in Boston Harbor), where lay Dartmouth and the newly-arrived Beaver and Eleanour. Swiftly and efficiently, casks of tea were brought up from the hold to the deck, reasonable proof that some of the "Indians" were, in fact, longshoremen. The casks were opened and the tea dumped overboard; the work, lasting well into the night, was quick, thorough, and efficient. By dawn, over 342 casks or 90,000 lbs (45 tons) of tea worth an estimated £10,000 (£953,000, or $1.87 million USD in 2007 currency) had been consigned to waters of Boston harbor. Nothing else had been damaged or stolen, except a single padlock accidentally broken and anonymously replaced not long thereafter.
This event became a catalyst, emboldening the revolutionaries and leading to further acts of rebellion. Although I do not personally foment revolt against an unpopular government (though I reserve my right as an American to do so), I can fully understand the situation that our forefathers found themselves in. And although I hope it never comes to this, I can certainly sympathize with Sam Adams when on that cold December night in 1773, he said, "This meeting can do nothing more to save the country", and took action.

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