Alan wrote yesterday "on this day (December 16th) in 1773 the Boston Tea Party took place as American colonists boarded a British ship and dumped more than three hundred chests of tea overboard to protest tea taxes. Today we have many politicans we need to put overboard and start fresh with honest people."

It is a nice fairy tale, and it will be told as long as people keep quoting Jefferson about the tree of liberty being watered by the blood of patriots. (Jefferson, of course, came nowhere near any of the blood and was a notoriously unsuccessfuly hortoculturalist.)

The Boston Tea Party was an organized riot by the tea smugglers of Boston who were genuinely peeved that the British Crown had had the wit to ignore its own Navigation Acts for once and land tea that, even with the tax, was less expensive that the Dutch tea the smugglers were bringing in. The British tea was thrown in the harbor because it threatened the smugglers' profits. The best modern analogy is a riot by Union workers beating up "scabs" — i.e. people willing to work for less.

The Tea Party was not a success politically. The people in Boston knew what it was about and were angry that they had to keep paying more for their daily drug. But the Tea Party was, inadvertently, the start of the Revolution. That is why we have the myth. The Home Office in Britain reacted with more than the usual executive idiocy and decided that the answer to an unpopular minor riot was the military occupation of the entire city of Boston, the shutting down of all trade and commerce, including local fishing and the confiscation of privately-owned fire arms. That gets us to Concord and Lexington and, after that, there was no turning back — even if the Continental Congress itself thought that its first action should be not a Declaration of Independence, but a petition to the Crown for a cease fire.

Jeff Watson adds:

Not only were they smugglers, but many were Free and Accepted Masons, and most of the planning went on for the Tea Party, and other acts against the Crown, in Masonic Lodges. The whole Revolutionary War was stamped with the imprint of Masonry, and the importance of Masons in the Revolution should never be underestimated.


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