The Boston Tea Party: The Spark that Lit the Fire of the American Revolution

Happy 4th of July, tea drinkers!

I can’t see a better opportunity to point out the connection between the Boston Tea Party in 1773 and the eventual independence of our country from Britain.

I truly stink at remembering anything historical, but the basic facts are as such: in the early 1760’s, British Parliament began passing various acts that required taxation on items like stamps and tea. Americans began to reject the notion that Britain should be controlling the taxation of goods and services because they had no representation in Parliament, which basically meant that they had no say in the votes to implement or increase taxes on any given good or service. So, to put it in perspective, it’s kind of like when your parents made you give them some of your allowance for no good reason (putting saran wrap over the toilet seat definitely does not qualify as a good reason), and then telling you that there is nothing you can do about it. The only difference is that you usually just put up a big stink and did what you were told. But not the American Patriots!

Since their basic rights to representation were being violated, the colonists took action. Our boy John Hancock, a wealthy shipbuilder and merchant, had discovered that while most merchants paid duties on imports, he could simply bribe officials and evade the whole taxation business altogether. Hancock smuggled sugar, molasses, and God knows what else into the country for little to no taxes whatsoever. Eventually, he fell under suspicion for various smuggling and tax evasion reasons, and his ship, the Liberty, was seized. Not surprisingly, Hancock became a proponent and financier of the growing rebellion against Britain.

As part of the rebellion and unfair taxation, Hancock organized a boycott of tea from the British East India Company, who supplied a large amount of tea to the colonies. Hancock then smuggled tax-free tea in from the Netherlands at the same time. Rather than revise the taxation system, British Parliament instead allowed a tax break for the East India Company. Which basically translated into what could only be construed as the favoring of a corporate empire and the squashing of the Americans and their rights.

After some rabble-rousing, protest meetings, and violent visits to East India warehouses and homes, our founding father and brewmaster Sam Adams addressed an assembly of gathered protesters, and the fit hit the shan. The Sons of Liberty, a secret group of patriots, disguised themselves as Indians and bum-rushed the Boston harbor. 45 tons of East India Company tea were unloaded from the Dartmouth. The tea was dumped quickly and efficiently into the harbor and all of it was toast by dawn. Glorious! Take that, Britain!

The result was the turning of many heads in Britain, the charging of Hancock, Adams, and others with high treason, and essentially the beginning of Us vs. Them. Any positive or friendly political relations that existed between Britain and the colonies pretty much evaporated after the Boston Tea Party.

But it was all for the best, as we did eventually gain our independence in 1776. 232 years later we play with explosives (only where legal, of course…), drink beer, play outside, watch fireworks, and drink tea whenever we like. Hooray!

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