Modern political activists invoke history… to justify and rationalize their activism- but often lose the real lessons of the events. The Boston Tea Party was not a simple protest against taxation; it was a complex disagreement over duties, exemptions, tariffs, and trade balance. Current political rhetoric cheapens the truly historic events of that December in 1773.
Samuel Adams called for action that winter… “Be in readiness in the most resolute manner to assist this town in their efforts for saving this oppressed country…” Adams and the Sons of Liberty understood what was happening in Boston affected all the colonies- expressing the idea of country three years before it was declared.
The meeting on December 16 was the largest… political meeting to date. Speakers came and went in a vain attempt to dissuade direct action- the leaders were waiting for a decision from the Royal Governor. The speakers couldn’t go on all night- Thomas Hutchinson wasn’t going to indulge the Sons of Liberty- Adams gave the prearranged signal for action.. “This meeting can do nothing more to save this country…”
Disguises of all sorts were donned by the… Sons of Liberty that night. Some wore feathers, others just heavy overcoats, their faces blackened with soot. Whatever the method, the result was nothing short of historic- Samuel’s cousin John Adams declared… “This destruction of the tea is so bold, so daring, so intrepid, and so inflexible, and it must have so important a consequence that I can’t but consider it an epoch in history.”