Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Boston Tea Party

Today, December 16 is the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party. The strange thing about the Tea Party is that it more often than not, associated with the concept of " no taxation without representation". But as in many situations, the truth is not quite that simple. This Wikipedia entry provides a little background on this event from 1773:


Hancock organized a boycott of tea from China sold by the politically well-connected British East India Company, whose sales in the colonies then fell from 320,000 pounds to 520 pounds. 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.[citation needed]
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 selective 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.[1]

So it was actually a removal of a tax that angered the colonists-- not a tax increase. You can't make that up. I wonder if Sam Adams and his boys would be considered "terrorists" in today's world?

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