What was the Boston Tea Party about? Why did they do what they did? Or for that matter, what is the modern Tea Party movement about, and why do we do what we do?
Some supposed leaders, and MSM press, think we're in it to gain political power, even to start a third party (wouldn't the establishment love that)... really? Do we really want a Tea Party Party? Look at any picture of a Tea Party gathering, look at the Mom's & Dad's, kids and Grand parents... do they really look like they want to ditch their lives in order to operate the machinery of a political party?
WE DON'T EVEN WANT TO BOTHER ORGANIZING A DEMONSTRATION!!! Do you have any idea the time and effort involved in putting one of these things on?!!!
We don't want to start a political party, and in fact I, and most others, think such a thing would be exceedingly counter-productive, we have all the influence we need through affecting the people and doings of the existing parties, or seeing them sacked and replaced.
We don't want power, we simply want justice done. We want to be heard, and we want our Rights and Property respected.
There's far more in there that ties us to our forefathers 237 years ago, than separates us from them, and whatever it is that divides us, there's one thing you can be sure about - real progress had little to do with it.
I submit that what we want today, are the same things as was desired 237 years ago during the original Boston Tea Party.
237 years ago the Sons of Liberty were slow roasted into taking action... I'm hoping against hope that history doesn't need to repeat itself... or even need to rhyme.
- Respect for Private Property,
- Respect for Individual Rights
- No Taxation without representation.
One site, boasting the logo "It's all about the tax, stupid!" states "But it was the Crown's attempt to tax tea that spurred the colonists to action and laid the groundwork for the American Revolution.", while that may have been the last straw, if they think that was the motivation - and that's pretty much what is taught in school today - they couldn't be more wrong.
Then, or now.
One of the dull barbs tossed at the Sons of Liberty, is that "for a group which claimed to care so much about property rights, they demonstrated zero regard for the property of the ships and that of the East India Co., by destroying that tea!"... but such a comment is typical of one made by someone who has no grasp of the principle of private property, the principle of force, and the necessity of context - IOW: someone 'educated' today.
The Never Ending Tea Party
For one thing, the Sons of Liberty showed a great deal of respect for the ships, and their property, their locks, etc. Take note of this, from "Hawkes, James A, Retrospect of the Boston Tea-Party, with a Memoir of George R. T. Hewes... (1834)", for a bunch of supposed hooligans, rioters and revolutionaries, they took remarkable care to know what they were about, and to go about their task in a respectful and orderly manner:
"When we arrived at the wharf, there were three of our number who assumed an authority to direct our operations, to which we readily submitted. They divided us into three parties, for the purpose of boarding the three ships which contained the tea at the same time. The name of him who commanded the division to which I was assigned was Leonard Pitt. The names of the other commanders I never knew. We were immediately ordered by the respective commanders to board all the ships at the same time, which we promptly obeyed. The commander of the division to which I belonged, as soon as we were on board the ship, appointed me boatswain, and ordered me to go to the captain and demand of him the keys to the hatches and a dozen candles. I made the demand accordingly, and the captain promptly replied, and delivered the articles; but requested me at the same time to do no damage to the ship or rigging. We then were ordered by our commander to open the hatches and take out all the chests of tea and throw them overboard, and we immediately proceeded to execute his orders, first cutting and splitting the chests with our tomahawks, so as thoroughly to expose them to the effects of the water.And for people with supposedly hypocritical or even no respect for the private property of others, they showed an unusual concern that no one should profit from their actions, and showed a great deal of respect for the true private property of the crewmen, as from "Patriots" by A.J. Langguth, pg. 184 (which I recommend), where he notes:
In about three hours from the time we went on board, we had thus broken and thrown overboard every tea chest to be found in the ship, while those in the other ships were disposing of the tea in the same way, at the same time. We were surrounded by British armed ships, but no attempt was made to resist us.
...The next morning, after we had cleared the ships of the tea, it was discovered that very considerable quantities of it were floating upon the surface of the water; and to prevent the possibility of any of its being saved for use, a number of small boats were manned by sailors and citizens, who rowed them into those parts of the harbor wherever the tea was visible, and by beating it with oars and paddles so thoroughly drenched it as to render its entire destruction inevitable."
"...The account that Paul Revere carried south had been correct, Boston's Tories did admit that the whole affair had been conducted as correctly as a crime could be. Anonymous Mohawks even sent a lock the next day to one of the ship captains as a replacement for one they had broken. It was also true that the more moderate Whigs seemed to endorse the dumping. John Adams, who had denounced the Boston mob so eloquently, wrote in is diary, "There is a dignity, a majesty, a sublimity, in this last effort of the patriots that I greatly admire...", and their insistence that none of the Sons of Liberty should in any way seek to enrich themselves through the contraband,
""One Captain O'Connor, whom I well knew, came on board for that purpose, and when he supposed he was not noticed, filled his pockets, and also the lining of his coat. But I had detected him and gave information to the captain of what he was doing. We were ordered to take him into custody, and just as he was stepping from the vessel, I seized him by the skirt of his coat, and in attempting to pull him back, I tore it off; but, springing forward, by a rapid effort he made his escape. He had, however, to run a gauntlet through the crowd upon the wharf nine each one, as he passed, giving him a kick or a stroke.For all the MSM's complaints about "Tea Party Mobs!", ask any of those tasked with 'cleaning up' after a Tea Party event, even where thousands or tens of thousands of people were involved... I think you'll unanimously hear that it was left cleaner than before they arrived. And for all the supposed violent tendencies, there have been zero violet incidents at Tea Parties, whereas at any leftist event (WTO protests, etc) the grounds are trashed, rioting often occurs, shop windows are smashed and police are assaulted.
Another attempt was made to save a little tea from the ruins of the cargo by a tall, aged man who wore a large cocked hat and white wig, which was fashionable at that time. He had sleightly slipped a little into his pocket, but being detected, they seized him and, taking his hat and wig from his head, threw them, together with the tea, of which they had emptied his pockets, into the water. In consideration of his advanced age, he was permitted to escape, with now and then a slight kick. "
The reason for this is that Private Property is greatly respected by members of the Tea Party, a sentiment that is common with what John Adams said, which I've noted often before, and will often again, from his "Defence of the Constitutions", in Vol III he considered what must most likely happen in a society once property rights were allowed to lose the status and support of law,
"...Property is surely a right of mankind as really as liberty. Perhaps, at first, prejudice, habit, shame or fear, principle or religion, would restrain the poor from attacking the rich, and the idle from usurping on the industrious; but the time would not be long before courage and enterprise would come, and pretexts be invented by degrees, to countenance the majority in dividing all the property among them, or at least, in sharing it equally with its present possessors. Debts would be abolished first; taxes laid heavy on the rich, and not at all on the others; and at last a downright equal division of every thing be demanded, and voted. What would be the consequence of this? The idle, the vicious, the intemperate, would rush into the utmost extravagance of debauchery, sell and spend all their share, and then demand a new division of those who purchased from them. The moment the idea is admitted into society, that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If "Thou shalt not covet," and "Thou shalt not steal," were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society, before it can be civilized or made free.""
And as often noted, from elsewhere in the same work, it is that respect for property which is the purpose and support for the Laws which makes a Republic possible,
"Others, again, more rationally, define a republic to signify only a government, in which all men, rich and poor, magistrates and subjects, officers and people, masters and servants, the first citizen and the last, are equally subject to the laws. This, indeed, appears to be the true and only true definition of a republic. The word res, every one knows, signified in the Roman language wealth, riches, property; the word publicus, quasi populicus, and per syncope pôplicus, signified public, common, belonging to the people; res publica, therefore, was publica res, the wealth, riches, or property of the people.*Res populi, and the original meaning of the word republic could be no other than a government in which the property of the people predominated and governed; and it had more relation to property than liberty. It signified a government, in which the property of the public, or people, and of every one of them, was secured and protected by law. This idea, indeed, implies liberty; because property cannot be secure unless the man be at liberty to acquire, use, or part with it, at his discretion, and unless he have his personal liberty of life and limb, motion and rest, for that purpose. It implies, moreover, that the property and liberty of all men, not merely of a majority, should be safe; for the people, or public, comprehends more than a majority, it comprehends all and every individual; and the property of every citizen is a part of the public property, as each citizen is a part of the public, people, or community. The property, therefore, of every man has a share in government, and is more powerful than any citizen, or party of citizens; it is governed only by the law. "The Property of the East India Co. was not Private Property, but tools of intimidation
What the Sons of Liberty understood way back when in Boston, well versed in the ideas of Locke and others, was that Property becomes private property through the self initiated labor, mental and physical, of the producer; either directly, as with someone who stakes a claim to unclaimed lands, and works the land to produce a crop; or through delegation and agency, as when someone contracts to have their physical & mental work done by proxy through the agency of others, employees and the like, who sell their time and effort as tools for the use of their employers.
That process is legitimate when the efforts, and agreements to work under the direction of another for compensation, is done by voluntary agreement, and when the raw materials involved which are transformed into property (land, etc), do not themselves belong to another, and they are not used for the purpose of abusing the rights and property of another party.
The East India Co. was not an example of a private business operating free and clear in product, deed and use of private property, it was a government enforced monopoly (the only proper meaning of the term), a 'business' who laid claim to an entire market by dint of the force of arms supplied and directed by the British government to secure it. It involved the abuse of force in it's growing and harvesting of the tea, in it's shipping of the tea, and in its sale of the tea, every step of the way which was upheld and enforced by force, preventing others from entering their market, from competing with their own product, no differently than if Don Corleone's thugs were to tell a business that they were gonna 'make 'em an offer you can't refuse' so that they could only sell his product.
The East India Co.'s materials ceased to have a claim to private property from the moment it was sown, let alone harvested, shipped and placed for exclusive sale, which was to not only include the sale price of the tea, but an additional payment of tax demanded by the thugs for the privilege of being forced to purchase only their product.
The 'property' of the East India co. was not Private Property, it was not only ill-gotten goods, but it was, in and of itself, a tool of force swung at the colonists, every bit as much as is the sack which a clerk is told to fill with money during a bank robbery.
The Sons of Liberty recognized that, recognized that they were not dealing with private property, but stolen goods, tools of force which were used at the behest of the tyrants of the British govt.
The Boston Tea Party was the act of patriotic citizens interrupting a theft. They didn't profit from, or seek to profit from the taking of the thugs materials, they merely took his ill-gotten goods from him, and sent his agents packing.
Far from being a hypocritical abuse of property, it was a supreme defense of Property Rights and a defense of the Individual Rights of all of the colonists.
No Taxation Without Representation
The Sons of Liberty weren't opposed to paying taxes, and neither are we, they were opposed to being taxed without being properly represented in the levying of those taxes, and there are two ways in which that representation is given and established.
Taxes are the means of supporting a legitimate government, one whose purpose is to uphold the rights of its citizens, and without which the mob and anarchy would be the only recourse in disputes, no property could be secure and no Rights could be enforced.
There can be no right to not support that which makes the security of your rights possible, and to the extent that a govt does that, they are justified in levying taxes, and it is the duty of every good citizen to pay them.
One of the qualifications for those taxes being legitimately levied, is that they must include the consent of the people, given by way of their being represented in that government. A proper govt involves its people in the making of its policies, and necessarily it will involve decisions which some or even many disagree with, but with ensuring that each person is represented in the discussions, a reasonable decision can be made. Even in cases where you might disagree with the decision, you have had your say, or at least in choosing your representative to those discussions; such a govt consists of the consent of the governed, and that is the only way open for civilized men to cooperate in governing.
If such decisions are not made with the representation of the peoples involved, then their consent was never given, then the govt ceases in that aspect to be a legitimate government, and becomes a tyrant instead, one using raw power to work its will upon the people, little different from those actions taken by the Godfather and his thugs shaking down a neighborhood. That was the situation the Sons of Liberty faced, and which Jefferson later authored the Declaration of Independence to put an end to.
Taxation without Representation is a cry this nation was founded upon, burst into action 237 years ago today, and concluded (for a time) 219 years ago yesterday, with the ratification of the Bill of Rights, securing our Rights, and specifically securing those rights which a tyrant can not come to power without abusing.
The battle cry of the original Sons Of Liberty was "No taxation without representation", not because the taxes being imposed upon them were of such ruinous percentages - they were laughably small compared to what we pay - but because they were imposed upon them without their having any voice in the process; they were not represented in the decision, and so they began to realize that the government ruling over them was not theirs since they were barred from being a part of it - they were not of the body politic which had power over them.
What about the Tea Party of today? Can we really say we have no representation in government? No, we can't say that, as our recent national election attested. But there is a second requirement to Representation, which we are coming dangerously close to losing... and it is important that this defect be remedied soon.
Representation and the consent of the governed isn't secured by voice alone, but by that government respecting the Rights of those being represented to it. Even though our representatives are properly elected today, they are still trampling upon our Rights, robbing us of our consent and of our property and sending the bill not only to us, but to our children and grand children.
Worse even than that, they are not content with taking our property alone, but seek to control our lives, deny our right to make our own choices regarding our health care or even the foods we eat, and unless that is put a stop to, it will become very difficult to argue that proper Representation is going on, or that the consent of the governed is being given to those governing us... and that is a very dangerous game to play, to treat free men as if they were serfs. We're slow to boil, but once set to boil, it's difficult to keep us from boiling over over.
We just had an historic election this last November, a rebuking of a sitting congress and President by the American People, justly furious that their voices were not being listened to, and the latest legislative acts and budgets of the outgoing congress... are slaps in the face of the entire nation.
To anyone with even a fleeting grasp of our history, that should be an ominous portent. It wasn't long after the Boston Tea Party, that the colonists realized that not only were they no longer considered part of the body politic which controlled them, but that they were thought of by that body as being merely a convenient body to be fed upon by it - and that they didn't like. Not one little bit, and so 237 years ago the Boston Tea Party, which should have shaken the would be tyrants from their stupor, was ignored and led to the confrontation on Lexington Green, and the rest is a hard history.
After this last election, our congress has the gall to seek a budget with billions of dollars for the pet projects of sitting and outgoing legislators, spat directly into the voting booths of We The People... that's not a wise thing to do. Not at all.
In America, the Tea Party is always ready to boil, it's not wise to turn up the heat.
With amazing timing, coming as it did on the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party, Harry Reid has thrown in the towel on his obscenely bloated $1.1 Trillion dollar omnibus spending bill. That prompts just a couple more reflections on the relevant anniversaries involved:
The time for physical revolt has come and gone, begun 237 years ago, and secured 219 years ago, it's work is done. Those who did have to fight for it, left us a task which in many ways is a far more difficult one. Our task is to rediscover, relearn, and reassert our understanding of our Individual Rights and what it means to live our own lives, in liberty and pursuing our happiness as we see fit.
- James Otis lit the fire of the Revolution
- The Boston Tea Party put it into action
- Lexington, Concord and the Declaration of Independence declared our Rights to our life, liberty and pursuit of happiness
- The Constitution defined a framework for liberty to prosper under government
- The Bill of Rights secured our Rights and defined those few which no tyrant can hope to rise up in the face of
This will require a lot of effort, made all the more difficult by an educational system which, at best, has failed in its task. But the only power this task before us requires to accomplish it, is that of your mind and heart seekig the truth along with a willingness to speak out to defend it.
The good news is that what we are after, the same thing those patriots of the Sons of Liberty were after at the Boston Tea Party, we already have; we have a nation founded on liberty, we have a written Constitution to govern it by, and a Bill of Rights to secure it all in place.
All we need to do is remember that and spread the word.