Boston Tea Party triggered by a 3 cent tax increase
By Bryan Fischer
Wednesday's Tea Party Boise will climax with a 12:30 p.m. rally at Capitol Park, right across the street from the state capitol.
Yours truly will be the MC for the event, and guest speakers will include Rep. Lenore Hardy Barrett, a fierce opponent of tax increases, Rep. Dick Harwood, author of a resolution designed to protect Idaho sovereignty under the 10th Amendment, and Rep. Phil Hart, who knows as much about the malignant growth of the federal income tax as any man alive. I hope you will join us. Details can be found at www.teapartyboise.com. Founding Father Ben Franklin is also expected to put in an appearance.
The original Boston Tea Party, an event which energized the drive for American independence, was triggered by a three penny per pound increase in the price of tea. According to Jane Cook, writing at Townhall.com, this today would be like being forced to shell out $9.98 for a pound of Starbuck's Pike Place Roast instead of $9.95.
Wednesday's Tea Parties — in Boise and elsewhere — have been triggered, on the other hand, by an $800 billion stimulus package, a federal deficit that will run to $1.75 trillion this year, and annual trillion dollar deficits for years to come that will place an unbearable tax burden on us, our children, and their children and grandchildren after them.
By 1773, Boston merchants had been chafing for three years at the unfair market advantage this tax had given to London tea merchants, who had been given a monopoly over the North American market. The monopoly and the tax were in essence a stimulus package for the East India Trading Company, an effort to keep the company from economic collapse. It was too big to fail.
When three ships loaded up with tea arrived in Boston Harbor on Nov. 29, 1773, local residents decided they'd had enough. Armed colonists prevented the ships from being unloaded for more than two weeks.
Leaders such as Sam Adams were angered that colonists were being taxed and yet had no elected representatives. Taxation without representation, they argued, was fundamentally unjust.
(Today, with 40% of the American people paying no taxes at all, we have something even worse: representation without taxation. As an observer said, "He who robs Peter to pay Paul can always count on the support of Paul.")
But corruption was also a driving force for the original Tea Party. Customs officials — including sons of the Massachusetts governor — were pocketing personal profits from the tea tax.
Hmm. burdensome taxation coupled with rampant corruption. Something seems rankly familiar here.
The Boston Tea Party involved more than 5,000 of Boston's 15,000 residents, who gathered at Faneuil Hall on December 16, 1773 to see if the governor would send the tea-laden ships back to England.
All hell broke loose when they received word that the governor would allow the ships to unload their cargo. Said one eyewitness, "You'd thought that the inhabitants of
the infernal regions had broke loose."
Late that same night, 200 tea partiers, poorly disguised as Indians, boarded the ships, used hatchets and axes to break into the chests of tea, and by 9 p.m. that night the contents of every chest — 45 tons worth — had been tossed overboard, while thousands watched from the streets.
They then marched off the boats and down the street with a fifer leading the parade.
As an editorial in the DC Examiner says, this original protest thus "was neither spontaneous nor a mere lark." Planning had been taking place for weeks prior to the gathering, and Sam Adams had established a pre-arranged signal (his announcement at the meeting, "This meeting can do no more to save the country") for the boarding of the ships.
As "Clarendon" says, "They were committing an act of insurrection, not political theater."
His Majesty's troops did nothing to stop the Tea Party. In fact, the British Admiral, John Montague, leaned out of a window as the patriots marched by on the street below. "Boys," he said, "You have had a fine, pleasant evening for your Indian caper, haven't you? But mind, you have got to pay the fiddler yet."
And quickly the fiddler demanded his due. Parliament responded by passing the Intolerable Acts, revoking the colonial charter of Massachusetts and sending 5,000 additional soldiers to occupy the city and take up residence in people's homes. They shut down the port of Boston, and removed all civilian governing authority, replacing it with Royal rule.
General Gage immediately went about trying to confiscate gunpowder and arms stored in towns throughout the colony, actions which eventually produced the Second Amendment, which protects the "right of the people to keep and bear Arms."
The Intolerable Acts also gave rise in time to the Third Amendment, which prohibits the forced quartering of soldiers in private homes. The Crown also prohibited even peaceful assemblies in the wake of the Tea Party, giving rise to the plank in the First Amendment that guarantees "the right of the people peaceably to assemble."
It is that plank that guarantees the right of the people to host Tea Parties in public places all across the fruited plain. It will be instructive to see if local authorities make further attempts, as they have done in come cities, to block peaceful tea parties based on permitting issues or some such thing.
Today's Tea Parties are mild and sedate in comparison to the risks taken by our forefathers. Perhaps some of that temperance is due to the fact that we ourselves elected the people who did this to us.
Wednesday's protests are important, and we can hope lawmakers will take note. And yet if the Tea Parties do not lead to a concerted grassroots effort to elect genuine social and fiscal conservatives at all levels of government, conservatives who take a solemn oath not to raise our taxes and a sacred vow to protect traditional values, in the end it will be nothing but "sound and fury, signifying nothing."