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A Short History of Tea Parties

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

In on of those really sad cases of unintentional, but awful, timing the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum in, well, Boston, is closed for remodeling and isn't scheduled to reopen until the summer of 2010.

If you were the a member of board of directors of the one and only Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum in, well, Boston, it seems to me that knowing that hundreds, of not thousands of "Tea Parties" were going to be held today to protest … whatever is being protested … you might have used that as a huge fundraising opportunity.

Instead, the website says …

Closed for renovation.
Will reopen
Summer 2010

Happily, Samuel Adams (the revolutionary, not the beer manufacturing company) and his band of followers, the Sons of Liberty, were better at marketing than the museum directors and so on December 16, 1773 they dressed up like Mohawk Indians and did the deed.

The "deed" was to board three ships owned by the East India Company, the Dartmouth, the Eleanor and the Beaver, hacked into 342 crates of tea and emptied them into Boston Harbor causing enormous economic loss to the East India Company and a near-riot by PETA because the fish in the harbor had insomnia for three weeks from the caffeine in the tea.

Thus was the Boston Tea Party concluded. Three ships, one named for a small Ivy League college, one for a future First Lady of the United States and one for a small town in Pennsylvania (Population 4,401) were boarded by a bunch of guys dressed up in outfits which should have gotten them arrested on a hate crimes rap (anywhere but in the stadium housing the NFL team known as "the Redskins") and the next thing you know you've started a whole war.

Samuel Adams (1722 - 1803) was cranky just about his whole life. The British Parliament went out of its way to foster this crankiness by passing laws with lyrical names which, as the name of the brew would lead us to believe, drove Adams to drink.

Parliament passed the Sugar Act in 1764, to which Adams responded with pamphlets and speeches one of which contained the phrase "taxation without representation" which has since been adopted by the District of Columbia.

Next the sissies in London passed the Stamp Act 1765 which put a tax on most printed materials. As Adams was big into pamphlets he saw this as a tax aimed directly at putting him out of the rabble-rousing business. It was the Parliament's version of the U.S. Congress passing a law aimed directly at AIG executives to tax their bonuses.

Later, the U.S. Supreme Court, in McCullough v Maryland, took up the cause with a ruling declaring "The power to tax is the power to destroy" which the District of Columbia ought to consider for its next slogan right after demanding that the NFL team change it's name to the "Washington Native Americans."

Finally, the poofs sitting in Westminster passed the Townshend Acts in 1767 which taxed goods imported into the colonies. There was considerable discussion around the meeting halls of the day as to whether Parliament actually had the right to levy taxes like this but, like the Congress of 2009, the legislators were more interested in establishing their power than a strict interpretation of any pesky Constitution.

In May of 1773 the Parliament passed the "Tea Act" which was actually a tax reduction - at least for the East India Company - as it permitted the company to sell tea in the colonies without having to pay the same duties it paid when it sold the same tea in London. This, it was held, granted East India a monopoly because tea imported from other places by other companies had to pay import duties.

Some historians trace the beginnings of Starbucks to a clever marketing flanking maneuver getting people to drink four dollar coffee instead of one shilling tea thus rendering the Tea Act useless.

Yada, yada, yada seven months later the Boston Tea Party with music by the Sons of Liberty and 237 years after that we have today's "Tea Parties" protesting a bunch of pantywaists sitting in Congress raising taxes and … whatever.

That, in brief, is how we got to where we are today.

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