History has always been a bit of a passion for me, particularly the history of the United States... Sure we pretty much screwed the natives later on, and had a horrible civil war (essentially because of what we now call "the Feds"), but thinking of the gutsy nature of the colonists who thumbed their noses at the King of England is really very inspiring... And at the same time very sad that we Americans today take a tax increase with a shrug and a rolling of the eyes... Colonists literally died to keep the money they worked for.
On December the 16th of 1773, what we now call "The Boston Tea Party" occurred. Many people think of this event and can only come up with " A bunch of trick or treaters dressed as Indians tossed a bunch of tea into the harbor." I am blogging this to tell you why, and to help you appreciate it and our history.
You've heard the phrase "Taxation without representation." What's that mean? Okay, when these dudes left England to colonize "America", they were really still part of England. England had parliament (Kindda like our Congress). Everyone had a "representative", except the colonists. No one in parliament represented the colonists, so they kind of felt like they weren't subject to being taxed. I mean, how could people vote to tax them when no one represented them to argue for or against it? The biggest issue these colonist dudes had was the Stamp Act. Anything printed on paper was taxed. Here is the rub; the colonies were taxed 5 times the amount the folks in England were taxed for paper goods... Essentially, this pissed them off.
England loved tea. It was imported from China to the rich folks there. You and I pay 5 to 10% sales tax on things we buy. Tea was taxed 119%. England eventually lowered the tax and everyone was able to afford tea... So they "allowed" China to import to the colonies... And in turn, get some tax money from the colonies.
So the night came that 3 ships packed with tea arrived in Boston. This rag-tag group of dudes called "The Sons of Liberty" met in a pub, drank a few pints, damned the King to hell a few times, then decided to dress as native Americans (to avoid punishment from someone identifying them) and snuck onto these ships. They were not going to let England get any tax money from the sell of this tea by golly! By 9 p.m., they had opened 342 crates of tea in all three ships and had thrown them into the harbor. They took off their shoes, swept the decks, and made each ship's first mate agree to say "The Sons of Liberty had destroyed only the tea", they were met with almost no resistance except for the first mate of one ship who fought valiantly taking out the eyes of several of the residents. The next day, they sent someone around to fix the one padlock they had broken.
England reacted by closing the port of Boston. Some copy-cat groups burned other ships carrying taxable goods in other harbors... As far as tea drinking itself was concerned, many colonists, in Boston and elsewhere in the country, pledged to keep from the drink as a protest. May be why we drink iced tea more often in America...
So this Saturday, make some tea and think about what a luxury it once was in England and the colonies... or, grab a tea bag and throw it into the trash can as a "nod" to some of the framers of this country. And next time the price of stamps go up, or your senator votes to raise your taxes, notice the difference in your reaction and how the "Sons of Liberty" would have reacted. This ain't America the Free anymore.