America’s interest in The Boston Tea Party has been rekindled in recent years, thanks to its being chosen as a symbol for an emerging faction of a major political party that is known for its boisterous rallies and borderline sanity. Some facts have become blurred, however, so the following is my version of the true events surrounding this landmark occasion.
In 1773, American colonists had not yet shrugged off the British tradition of interrupting their daily tasks fourteen times a day to enjoy a cup of tea. In fact, tea was the number one import into the colonies, far outpacing the second place Snuggie. Most tea was imported from the East Indies, not to be confused with the West Indies, which were actually islands in the Caribbean Sea, but were so named by an obstinate white man who refused to admit he was lost. Since 1698, Britain had allowed a monopoly on the importing of tea by the East India Company, later renamed Comcast, which allowed them to set their own prices, however exorbitant, illogical, or unfair. The East India Company was not allowed to import directly to the colonies. Instead, they sold to British companies, who would then mark up the price and resell it to the American colonists, in a practice then known as “ticketmastering.” Competing tea importers from Holland began smuggling in tea and selling it at a much more reasonable price, in a process known as “napstering.” To help ensure that the biggest businesses, such as the East India Company, were still able to post record profits, Britain lowered the tax on tea for English citizens, and raised it for Americans.
This decision fanned the flames of an existing argument between the colonies and Britain, spearheaded by the Whig party and its leaders, William Shatner and Burt Reynolds. The Whigs argued that taxing the colonists without allowing them to send representatives to Parliament to weigh in on issues of taxation was unconstitutional. A minor member of the party, Thaddeus Michael Bachmann, tried to further argue that any taxation set forth by a ruling government over its people was unconstitutional, but his efforts were unanimously ignored by everyone at the time who knew anything about how government worked. It should be noted, however, that an unconfirmed story suggests his loyal followers all went home, dipped their quills in ink, and changed the section explaining government in their copies of Poor Richard’s Almanac to give the illusion of credibility to Bachmann’s preposterous claims.
The Whigs’ indignation at the new taxes soon spread across the Massachusetts colony, and various forms of protests took place. A colony-wide boycott of tea was enacted, but many colonists soon succumbed to the addictive powers of tea and soon found themselves performing lewd acts in exchange for what limited supplies could be found. Semi-popular minstrel Avery Winehouse was the first confirmed casualty attributed to tea withdrawal symptoms. Eventually, bolder protests occurred. Groups of Whigs, led by Jack Nicholson and Leonardo Dicaprio, engaged in intimidation tactics designed to frighten appointed consignees—the merchants who signed for the deliveries—from allowing the ships to be unloaded, and many cargo ships returned to England with their shipments of tea still aboard. This tactic worked well in several places, but in Boston, Governor Hutchinson’s refusal to allow the consignees to be intimidated, resulted in several shipments getting through, which made the Governor leapfrog Casey Anthony into first place in the latest “least popular person in America” polls.
In November, 1773, the Dartmouth—the first of three cargo ships carrying East India Tea—arrived in Boston Harbor. Governor Hutchinson insisted that the cargo be unloaded, but a bevy of colonist enforcers, dressed in Celtics gear and anti-Yankees t-shirts, prudently pointed out to the dock workers how difficult everyday life would be without functioning kneecaps, and they stood guard, ensuring the tea was not unloaded. Soon, the other two ships—the Yale and the Greendale Community—docked in Boston Harbor. Infuriated by the Governor’s actions, renowned Boston hothead Samuel Adams called for a public meeting to be held to discuss the situation. He also used the occasion to unveil a new winter ale that was robust and full bodied, yet complemented by the roasty sweetness of the malts, with a hint of citrus. A rough-and-tumble group of like-minded patriots, known as the Sons of Liberty, arrived at the meeting on their trademark Harleys, led by the well-respected Ron Perlman, and the mom from “Married With Children.” Tensions flared at the meeting, with several speakers later being described to the press as having been “wicked pissed,” and a bold course of action was undertaken.
The Sons of Liberty and their followers stormed out into the night, disguised themselves as Mohawk Indians, and formed the first of many angry mobs for which Boston would soon become famous. The disguise, it should be noted, fooled many of the locals who were not in on the plan, and many made a private vow that night to later seek vengeance for the unruly disturbance by moving west and systematically destroying the entire Indian population. The mob soon made its way to the harbor, boarded the three cargo ships, and famously dumped 342 chests of tea into the water, which was soon engulfed on all sides by zombie-like Bostonian tea addicts who carried straws and soon drained the harbor to nearly half its original depth.
This event was branded as terrorism by the British government, who assured their English citizens that the colonists “hate us for our freedom!” Hundreds of thousands of tiny British flags were sold within hours and attached to door fronts and car windows. With promises to smoke out the terrorists, Britain enacted swift punishment by closing the port of Boston and moving their football team to the nearby meth haven of Foxboro.
Back in the colonies, leading patriots such as Samuel Adams, John Adams, the Addams Family, and Tom Brady argued in defense of the event, describing it as a “principled protest” by oppressed people who had been left with no other recourse. Many other colonies sympathized with Massachusetts and lent their support, with the notable exception of New York, which smugly attempted to lure away some of Boston’s best and brightest citizens with lucrative contracts. The protest inspired many acts of defiance in other colonies, such as the famous burning of the “Peggy Lipton” in the harbor of Annapolis, MD, and the “I Want My MTV” uprisings of the early 1980s.
Eventually, the animosity between England and her colonies led to the conflict known at the time as the Screw the Queen Squabble (later renamed The American Revolution). Despite England’s subsequent attempts at reconciliation with the colonies, such as 1775’s “Conciliatory Resolution,” Bostonians had learned through experiences such as the Tea Party that they just plain enjoyed fighting, and all attempts at compromise proved fruitless. Oh, and speaking of the violence between heavily armed British soldiers and the colonists who ran for their lives from them: this event is commemorated every year with the running of the Boston Marathon. Also, Cheers was founded.