The Boston Tea Party and Its Protest Against Government Power Concentrated in a Far-Distant Land

HISTORY - Boston Tea Party (BEST)

by Diane Rufino, December 20, 2018

Four days ago, a date came and went without much mention. Yet it was so significant.

On December 16, 1773, some 30 to 130 protesters, mostly members of the Sons of Liberty, dressed up as Mohawk Indians, boarded three British ships (the Beaver, Dartmouth, and Eleanor), and dumped all its cargo of tea. In all, they dumped 342 chests of British East India Company tea, weighing over 92,000 pounds (roughly 46 tons) into Boston Harbor. The cargo was worth more than $1,700,000 dollars in today’s money. Merchant John Andrews wrote in his December 18, 1773 letter, “ten thousand pounds sterling of the East India Company’s tea was destroyed the evening before last…” The British East India Company reported £9,659 worth of damage caused by the Boston Tea Party.

The chests were smashed using an assortment of axes but aside from the tea and one  broken padlock, historical accounts of the event record no damage was done to any of the three ships, the crew or any other items onboard the ships. The padlock was the personal property of one of the ships’ captains, and was promptly replaced the next day by the Patriots. Nothing was stolen or looted from the ships, not even the tea. One participant tried to steal some tea but was reprimanded and stopped. The Sons of Liberty were very careful about how the action was carried out and made sure nothing besides the tea was damaged and they took great care to avoid any destruction of personal property. After the destruction of the tea, the participants swept the decks of the ships clean and anything that was moved was put back in its proper place.

The point of this seemingly useless emphasis on detail is that the Sons of Liberty used the event as a protest, carefully and glaringly obvious as one aimed at the importation of the East India Company tea pursuant to the Tea Act. It wasn’t a protest against Britain in general and it wasn’t a protest against the East India Company. It was a protest designed to show the colonists’ resistance to a law that was passed in abuse of government power. They were interposing to exert their liberty rights.

The Boston Tea Party wasn’t about the AMOUNT of tax on the tea, because in reality, the tax would have lowered the amount colonists would pay for tea. (In fact, King George thought the Tea Act would be welcome in the colonies because finally, it was going to save them money). No, the Boston Tea Party was about two things:  (1) The Tea Act was passed by a legislature that did not allow any representatives from the colonies (in violation of the English Bill of Rights of 1689, with its precursor being the Magna Carta; the Magna Carta introduced the concept of “Taxation with Representation”), and (2)  The Tea Act established a monopoly on the sale of tea, destroying the free market on the item and putting colonial traders out of business (or making criminals out of them should they dare to continue selling tea), thus highlighting the lack of procedures in government to protect and respect the rights of the colonies.

I bring this last point up because, as you would have noticed by reading the list of grievances against King George III in the Declaration of Independence, gradually, the King and Parliament came to exert complete control and governance over the colonies and the colonists; the last straw came when, at Lexington & Concord, the Redcoats attempted to destroy the colonial arsenal of ammunition, and then the King sent a decree to all Royal governors and the Royal Navy to block all importation of guns and ammunition to the colonies, and then in Virginia (1775), when Royal Governor Dunmore disbanded the colonial legislature, seized ammunition stores, and sought to confiscate colonial stockpiles of ammunition (prompting Patrick Henry to introduce resolutions to raise colonial militias and to deliver his famous “Give me Liberty or Give me Death!” speech). The last and most valuable of the rights of the colonists (recognized in the English Bill of Rights) were their rights of self-defense and self-determination. They would be worth fighting for.

Effective and responsive government in a free land is government that is closest to the people. A government that attempts to control people from a distant land (or a distant part of the country) is not responsible government. It is not what our Founders intended. That is why our Founders gave us a limited federal government; a federation of sovereign states. That is why we have the Tenth Amendment.

In a speech Ronald Reagan delivered on October 27, 1964 in support of Barry Goldwater (the conservative candidate), this idea was put clearly to the American people. Reagan said:

“And this idea that government is beholden to the people, that it has no other source of power except the sovereign people, is still the newest and the most unique idea in all the long history of man’s relation to man.

This is the issue of this election: whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capitol can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.”

The Sons of Liberty, along with our great founding fathers, resisted, with every means possible, all attempts of the King and Parliament to concentrate power and control over the colonies and colonists from the far-off land of Great Britain. That control came at a huge cost – the loss of natural rights and rights specifically enumerated in the various charters of England and in its Bill of Rights.

We as Americans are allowing that very same thing to happen to us – allowing almost all government control to be concentrated in DC, to be carried out by a group of corrupt human beings more beholden to a political party than to the people themselves. How can we justify this when our history is one defined by the Boston Tea Party and the American Revolution?

We should be ashamed of ourselves.

Anyway, I hope you will take the time to read my good friend Dave Benner’s article on the Boston Tea Party. “Today in History: The Boston Tea Party” [https://tenthamendmentcenter.com/2018/12/16/today-in-history-the-boston-tea-party/ ].  In that article, Mr. Benner writes:

Contrary to popular belief, this was not specifically a tax protest – the patriots did object to taxes levied without representation, but 1773 Tea Act had actually lowered the taxes on tea. Instead, the colonists disavowed mercantile practices of the British government, specifically the tea monopoly that was granted to the East India Tea Company through the law. Additionally, they renounced the idea that Parliamentary law was supreme over all of the British Empire and could override the will of the colonial assemblies.

Upon learning of the event, John Adams wrote: “This Destruction of the Tea is so bold, so daring, so firm, so intrepid, and so inflexible, and it must have so important Consequence sand so lasting, that I cannot but consider it as an Ecpocha in History.”

Although it was the most famous event called a “Tea Party,” other states resisted the implementation of the act as well. In South Carolina, patriots dumped tea into the Cooper River. In Annapolis, a ship carrying loads of tea was put to the torch. In New York and Philadelphia, the ships bringing the tea were rejected and turned back to England.

In Edenton, North Carolina, Penelope Barker organized a group of patriot women and signed a document of rebuke against the act and pledged to boycott British goods. They agreed to obstruct the policy “until such time that all acts which tend to enslave our Native country shall be repealed.” Effectively, all states meddled with the enforcement of the law in the same ways they had resisted the Stamp Act, effectively nullifying it.

As I hope most of us remember from our study of early American History, the British responded harshly to the Boston Tea Party. Parliament responded by passing a series of four acts collectively known as the Coercive Acts of 1774. The Acts were meant to punitive, to punish the Massachusetts colonists for their Tea Party protest. Parliament hoped these punitive measures would, by making an example of Massachusetts, reverse the trend of colonial resistance to parliamentary authority that had begun with the 1765 Stamp Act.

The first of the four Acts was The Boston Port Act which closed the port of Boston until the colonists paid for the destroyed tea and the king was satisfied that order had been restored.  This, of course, crippled the colony’s maritime economy. The second of the Acts was The Massachusetts Government Act, which essentially abolished the colonial government. It unilaterally took away Massachusetts’ charter and brought it under control of the British government, and for that reason, it provoked even more outrage than the Port Act. Under the terms of the Government Act, almost all positions in the colonial government were to be appointed by the governor, Parliament, or king. The act also severely limited town meetings in Massachusetts to one per year.  The third act, The Administration of Justice Act, allowed the Royal governor to order trials of accused royal officials to take place in Great Britain or elsewhere within the Empire if he decided that the defendant could not get a fair trial in Massachusetts. And the fourth, the Quartering Act, allowed a governor to house soldiers in certain buildings if suitable quarters were not provided. Unlike the other acts, the Quartering Act applied to all the colonies.

The Intolerable Acts were so harsh that the colonists referred to them as the Intolerable Acts.

Quickly, the Intolerable Acts would set the colonies on a course that would lead to war and ultimately to our independence. Months after the Intolerable Acts were imposed on Massachusetts, the First Continental Congress was called in order to address the conduct by Great Britain towards her colonies. The First Continental Congress met in Philadelphia from September 5 – October 26, 1774. Three achievements came of that historic meeting:  (1) The twelve colonies who sent representatives to the Congress agreed to boycott the import of British goods beginning on December 1, 1774: (2) The representatives called for a second Continental Congress to meet in May of the following year; and (3) The Congress approved a Petition to the King of England (King George III) which it sent before adjourning. That Petition explained to his majesty that if it had not been for the acts of oppression forced upon the colonies by the British Parliament, the American people would be standing behind British rule. It further appealed to the King to interceded on their behalf (in regard to their opposition to and subjugation under the Coercive Acts) and to call for their repeal.

The colonists appealed to the King with these words: “To a Sovereign, who glories in the name of Briton, the bare recital of these Acts must, we presume, justify the loyal subjects, who fly to the foot of his Throne, and implore his clemency for protection against them…..”  [The Petition can be read at:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petition_to_the_King ] King George never gave the Colonies a formal reply to their petition. In fact, it is said he compared the colonists to petulant children who were rebelling rather than protesting. Although the Petition was not meant for Parliament, the King sent it there where it also received little attention and no response.

On April 19, 1775, the first shots of the revolution were fired at Lexington and Concord after a contingent of British redcoats marched from Boston to arrest the tea party planners Samuel Adams and John Hancock and to destroy the munitions stockpiled at Concord. The following month, on May 11, the Second Continental Congress convened in Philadelphia, no longer to tasked with smoothing relations with Britain but now to plan and manage the war that was certainly coming.

On June 14, the Second Continental Congress adopted a resolution to establish the Continental Army, to coordinate the military efforts of the colonies in their revolt against the rule of Great Britain, and five days later, on June 19, George Washington was appointed General of that Army. Still hoping to prevent war, the Second Continental Congress, on July 5, agreed to send a petition to King George asking him to reach an agreement with the Americans. This petition was termed “The Olive Branch Petition.” The following day, the Congress adopted the “Declaration on the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms” to follow the Olive Branch Petition and explain why the American colonies were fighting.

The “Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms,” which was written by John Dickinson but relying on language from Thomas Jefferson, would be the final attempt on the part of the colonies to avoid war with Great Britain. Just as the Petition asserted the year before, The Declaration of Causes affirmed American loyalty to Great Britain and beseeched King George III to prevent further conflict. Like the petitions presented to the earlier Kings of England, the one sent by the colonies listed their grievances (again reminding the King of their right to have representation when being taxed and their concerns over the growing tyranny over the colonies), gave their reasons for fighting the British, and stated that the American colonies are “resolved to die free men rather than live as slaves.” When the Petition and Declaration arrived in August and were handed to the King, he refused to read them. Yet, on August 23, he proceeded to formally declare the colonies to be in a state of active rebellion against the Crown (Proclamation of Rebellion) and declared the colonists to be traitors.

It is said that up until this Petition, Benjamin Franklin held great regard and affection for Great Britain and valued his status as a British subject. But when the King chose not to respond to the Petition, nor to even acknowledge the colonists’ legitimate grievances, and when Parliament did the same, he realized that his affections and loyalty to Great Britain were ill-placed and that the relationship between the colonies and the Crown was in a fatal state of disunity, and from that moment on, he was in favor of independence from Great Britain. After he voted in favor of sending the Petition, Franklin penned a letter to a friend there, William Straham. Straham was a British Member of Parliament who had, until that point, been a good friend of his for at least thirty years. In that letter, Franklin vented his anger and frustrations:

“You are a Member of Parliament, and one of that Majority which has doomed my country to destruction. You have begun to burn our towns, and murder our people. Look upon your hands! They are stained with the blood of your relations! You and I were long friends: You are now my enemy, and I am Yours.  —  B. Franklin.”

The Second Continental Congress continued to meet in 1776, with the war in full swing. On July 2, the Congress adopted the Lee Resolution, formally declaring independence from Great Britain (“Resolved, That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.”), and finally, on July 4, the longer Declaration of Independence (listing the many grievances against the King and Parliament) was adopted.

To reject the principles that drove the Sons of Liberty and other colonial protesters to destroy the tea in Boston that cold December evening in 1773, to diminish its impact on our founding. or to fail to understand its influence on our Founders’ intent for government is to help send our country on its way to government supremacy over our lives. It is to accept that government tyranny is acceptable. It is to submit to the easier course of action which is that we can tolerate government violating and limiting our liberty rights.

Ronald Reagan, in that famous speech mentioned above, had this to say:  “You and I are told increasingly we have to choose between a left or right. Well I’d like to suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There’s only an up or down: [up] man’s old — old-aged dream, the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order, or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism. And regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would trade our freedom for security have embarked on this downward course.”

 

References:

“The Boston Tea Party Destruction of the Tea” –  https://www.bostonteapartyship.com/the-destruction-of-the-tea

Dave Benner, “Today in History: The Boston Tea Party,” Tenth Amendment Center, December 16, 2018.  Referenced at:  https://tenthamendmentcenter.com/2018/12/16/today-in-history-the-boston-tea-party/

Ronald Reagan, speech of October 27, 1964 (“A Time for Choosing”) – https://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/ronaldreaganatimeforchoosing.htm

David B. Kopel, “How the British Gun Control Program Precipitated the American Revolution,” Charleston Law Review, Vol. 6, No. 2 (Winter 2012).  Referenced at:  http://www.academia.edu/10621580/How_the_British_Gun_Control_Program_Precipitated_the_American_Revolution

David B. Kopel, “The American Revolution Against British Gun Control” Administrative and Regulatory Law News (American Bar Association), Vol. 37, no. 4 (Summer 2012).  Referenced at:  http://www.davekopel.org/2A/LawRev/american-revolution-against-british-gun-control.html

“Benjamin Franklin Joins the Revolution,” The Smithsonian.  Referenced at:  https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/benjamin-franklin-joins-the-revolution-87199988/

Thanks Ronald Reagan for the Speeches and the Laughs, but Mostly for Your Wisdom and Your Example

RONALD REAGAN - black and white

by Diane Rufino, August 24, 2018

I’d like to take a trip down memory lane, back to the time when Ronald Reagan was president, when most Americans admired our leader, trusted him, and felt comforted and safe knowing he was in charge. He had class and a certain gentility, yet also having a backbone to stand up for our country’s values and to stand firm on his moral convictions.

Ronald Reagan should be a role model for all Americans. He was civil and polite and even if he disagreed with you, you felt that it could never shake the bonds of friendship or make him have any less respect for you. For him, government served a purpose and that purpose was clear and limited. To view it any other way was to sacrifice individual liberty and to diminish its security.  He believed our country was founded on individual liberty to secure individual liberty.  Yet he was fully aware that government belongs and serves all citizens and it is their voice, at the ballot box, that sets its course.

In looking at Reagan’s entertainment and then his public service career, we see that he refused to be defined by a particular political party, looking instead to see which party supported the best policies, which party best served the American people and furthered the safety and security of the country. As most people know, he started off as a Democrat but later switched to the Republican Party.

In 1986, speaking at a fundraiser for Illinois Governor James Thompson (running for the US Congress), Reagan recounted a conversation he had in the White House with a man, Jim O’Grady, who went through a similar political transition, or transformation. He said:

“When he was at the White House, Jim said to me, ‘The great Democratic Party of my father’s and grandfather’s time just doesn’t exist anymore. Mr. President, I didn’t leave the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left me. That’s why I switched parties.’ And I said, ‘Jim, join the crowd.’”

He went on to share the experience of the great Winston Churchill:

“I know how tough it can be to change parties. I was working for Republican candidates for some time before I changed my registration. But for anyone who’s concerned about, and thinking about doing, that, I think Winston Churchill—when he changed parties, was a member of Parliament in England. And he answered a question as to why. He said, ‘Some men change principle for party, and some change party for principle.’”

There was a time when the Democratic Party still stood for solid principles and policies.

Being an actor and president of the Screen Actor’s Guild, it would have been very unusual for Ronald Reagan not to be a Democrat. As we all know, Hollywood has been historically Democratic. Most likely, he used his political affiliation only to enhance his own interests, and the Democrat Party was more suited to his own personal advancements in the Hollywood business industry.

Once Ronald Reagan became more successful as a businessman than he actually was as an entertainer and became more involved in politics, it seems he realized that while the Democrat Party was good to address the plight and situation of certain groups of individuals, it was not looking out for the best interest of the country or American citizens as a whole. He realized, despite the policies of the Democratic Party to “take care of people,” at their core, the policies did more harm than good – for both those they intended to help, for taxpayers, and for the rest of Americans. For all the spending that Democrats did on entitlement programs, there was little good to show for it; in fact, the policies did little to actually further individual success, dignity, or advancement, and rather created a problem of dependency, inferiority, and victimhood. As Reagan would point out, entitlement policies were fraught with fraud, abuse, and dependency and they (more than anything else) were enabling government to become larger and larger, something he had always viewed with great skepticism. He found it inconsistent that a country that calls itself free could allow the federal government to have increasing control and influence on citizens’ everyday lives.

Ronald Reagan became a Republican.

Reagan officially switched political parties in 1962, although some say that he wanted to do so even as far back as 1952, when he threw his support for Dwight D. Eisenhower and his running-mate, Richard Nixon.

In fact, in 1964, being asked to speak on behalf of presidential candidate Senator Barry Goldwater, Reagan delivered one of the most significant and famous speeches of all time – “A Time For Choosing.” In that speech he alluded to the choice Americans would have to make in the 1968 election — a choice for big government and less freedom or limited government and more freedom (“This is the issue of this election: whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capitol can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.”)

With that speech, California Republicans took notice. They were impressed with his political views and his undeniable charisma. And so they nominated him as the Republican party candidate for Governor in 1966.

The rest is history. And to a great many Americans, he is sorely missed.

Like it or not, agree or disagree, President Trump is a lot like Reagan. Like Ronald Reagan, Donald Trump started off as a Democrat. That makes sense…. he’s a New Yorker. And like Reagan, Trump became more civic-minded once he achieved personal wealth… once he came to understand all the intricacies of how businesses are affected by government policies; how wealth is created.

Both men gravitated to party that allows American citizens to have greater opportunities to control their own destinies rather than be made to be dependent on government agencies.

But most of all, both men heeded the call of the time, to rally a people to change a disastrous course that its government was on.  In fact, the situation presented to both men is incredibly similar. One just needs to continue reading Reagan’s remarks at that 1986 fundraiser event to note the similarities:

“As you may know, I went to Eureka College. That’s a little bit to the south and west of here. And I’ll never forget graduation day, when the president of the school handed me my diploma. He asked me a question that really stuck in my mind. He asked, ‘Are you better off today than you were 4 years ago?’ Well, I’ve posed that question myself a few times since.

There was a time, and not so long ago, back in 1980, when the American people had to answer that question with a big, resounding ‘NO!’ The complete mismanagement of the party then in power had made an invalid of the once powerful giant of the American economy. After years of neglect, our proud military had fallen into disrepair and the mighty United States had become a whipping boy for penny-ante dictators and fanatics. A chorus of doom and gloom rose up from our opponents saying our best days were behind us and ringing down the curtain on America.

But you can be sure the American people never lost faith in our country. They knew that America’s best days were ahead of her, that the future was bright. And all they had to do was to clear out those people in Washington who were making such a mess of things. As usual, the American people were right. We came in and cut taxes, squashed inflation, unburdened the economy of needless regulations, heralding one of the longest peacetime expansions in history. Today there are actually 30,000 pages less in the Federal regulations than there were those few years ago. We built up our military, and around the world we spoke out loudly and clearly for freedom.

Today America is once again strong and united. Our economy is a powerhouse of economic growth and job creation, and we’ve regained our rightful place as leader of the free world. Now, there’s one change that makes me particularly proud: We have restored pride in the uniform of the military of the United States of America. Today’s recruits—and they’re all volunteers-are the most educated and some of the most highly motivated—simply the finest young men and women who have ever served their country. Indeed, we have a higher percentage of high school graduates in the military than we have ever had in our entire history, even with our wartime drafts. If we ever have to send them in harm’s way, I’m going to make sure they have the very best possible equipment that America can produce.

But it’s important to remember those dark days 5 ½ years ago, because the tax-and-spend crew is still lurking in the shadows, just waiting for a second chance. The liberal leadership of the Democratic Party hasn’t changed; they’re as addicted as ever to big government, high taxes, and inflation. They’re just itching to repeal our tax cuts, to replace our opportunity society with a welfare state. And their foreign policy is still the same: slash defense and, when in doubt, always ‘blame America first.’ The Democratic leadership would chart the most dangerous course for a nation since the Egyptians tried a shortcut through the Red Sea. You have to think about that one for a minute. We can’t let America be paralyzed by a hostile Congress. We have too much yet to accomplish…

I’ve come here today to tell you that this election in 1986 will be a crucial moment of decision for our country. Will liberal policies return us to the days of malaise?  Or will America continue down the road to progress? The answer to that question depends on one thing: [the people you elect]…..

I don’t have to tell you how important it is to have —– supporting our efforts to slim down the Federal bureaucracy and bring government back where it belongs: closer to the people. There are many people in Washington who have forgotten—or who want to forget this nation is a federation of sovereign States, and that is our basic strength……”

[Reference:   http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=37732 ]

Ronald Reagan brought us so much laughter and so much wisdom. He saw the defining issue of the day, laid it out crystal clear to the people of the United States, and put the country’s destiny in their hands. And as Reagan commented above: “The American people never lost faith in our country. They knew that America’s best days were ahead of her, that the future was bright. And all they had to do was to clear out those people in Washington who were making such a mess of things.”

And Donald Trump did the very same thing. Drain the Swamp. Make America Great Again.  The American people knew that it was DC getting in the way of the country’s greatness and the ability of people to get ahead.

I hope when people step into the ballot box in November, they remember Ronald Reagan and they realize the hope of the country lies within them, in their ability to appreciate what America needs to continues to be her greatest self and their willingness to make the right choices.  I hope they think back to Ronald Reagan and his path to finding his political identity, and especially to the criteria he used in finding that identity.

Conservatives, we may not have the mainstream media on our side, and we may not have those with the loudest platforms on our side, and we may not have the courts on our side, but if we want to do the right thing for our country, we need to use the one thing we do have…..  the ballot box.

As usual, the American people were right. We came in and cut taxes, squashed inflation, unburdened I hope everyone asks the right questions when they step into the ballot box

 

References:

Remarks given by President Ronald Reagan at a Fundraiser for Gov. James R. Thompson, Jr., in Rosemont, Illinois (April 12, 1986)  –   http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=37732

Video: Ronald Reagan’s Humor over the Years — https://www.facebook.com/diane.rufino.7/videos/10215249902793014/