Beyond Boston: Prerevolutionary Activism And The Other A merucan Tea Parties

Jane T. Merritt

THE BOSTON TEA PARTY holds a revered place in the history of the American Revolution and is often cited as key to our political independence and emerging national identity during the postwar period. Tourists today still make pilgrimages to Boston Harbor to see reenactments of the patriots, actions. At least four major Massachusetts archives claim possession of a small bottle of “Tea Party” tea. Donated in the early nineteenth century, these relics boast authenticity and lend sanctity to Boston as the birthplace of patriotic activity and American independence.1 The unprecedented destruction in December 1773 of 342 chests of English East India Company tea (valued at £25,000 sterling according to one observer’s estimate) sent shock waves through the British public and Parliament, leading to a backlash that economically crippled Boston (Tudor 1773; Newell [1773] 1878,346), The Port Act of 1774 in fact closed the harbor to all commerce, putting both middle-class merchants and maritime laborers out of work.

It is important to acknowledge, however, that tea and consumer taxation were no less important to debate and political action in other parts of the colonial Atlantic world, Nm York, Philadelphia, and Charleston, all set to receive commissioned tea from the East India Company in late 1773, wrestled over their initial responses. Beyond the large port cities, smaller colonial communities were also drawn into the political deliberation over whether tea, as a symbol of British economic dominance, should be bought, sold, or even used by their citizens. Thoughtful debate based on impassioned Enlightenment ideals of liberty and rights to self-government engendered many a local boycott of English trade goods. Several towns chose more extreme measures to express their displeasure, and like Boston, they threatened or engaged in direct action against merchants, transporters, purchasers, or consumers of tea. While we might dismiss these other communities as mere imitators (and, indeed, most of the destruction of tea outside of Boston occurred after its Tea Party), in the long run, the political phleteering and economic boycotts initiated in Philadelphia and New York probably did far more than commonly believed to propel a united group of colonists toward revolution.

Indeed this essay aims to explore why the less-celebrated protests of American colonists were necessary catalysts for prerevolutionary activism both before and after the Boston Tea Party, Boston may be best remembered for its activism because the town bore the brunt of British economic sanctions (fig, 7.1), eventually provoking military confrontation in 1775, but the “other tea parties” beyond Boston help us understand a less-familiar, even subversive, colonial America and its relationship with a new world of consumption. The best-known example of such activism came from Edenton, North Carolina (fig. 7.2),where an unlikely group of “Patriotic Ladies” swore on October 25,1774, “not Conform to that Pernicious Custom of Drinking Tea” nor to “promote to wear of any Manufacture from England until such time that all Acts which tend to Enslave this our Native Country shall be Repealed” (Sweeney 1998,21). These women are depicted as of mixed class and race; some are plainly dressed, others wear elaborate wigs. An African American servant holds a tray with an inkpot and pens for the woman to use in signing a petition laid out on the table. On one Level, the print appears to mock women as frivolous and fickle consumers, a common practice among many eighteenth-century critics. These after all, careless, even disorderly, women in the company of leering men; a child sits neglected on the floor. Yet, the women also display their political acumen. Some dump tea from their canisters, others sign the petition. Even the child throws a small tea set on the floor in a fit, while a dog urinates on another pile of tea canisters nearby. Whether the Edenton “tea party” really happened in this manner or not, the image and its implication that female consumers had great power to protest the sale of Chinese tea by British companies for American tables raises interesting questions concerning revolutionary activism. Did Americans fear that boycotts and political protests might lead to gender and racial disorder? Or did they welcome the social dislocation that broader economic choice and republican ideals sometimes produced? Indeed, by the early 1770s the rest of the world watched Americans with fascination to see where a seemingly trivial. conflict over tea and taxation would take them.

To understand the American political response to tea, and the role of the Edenton Ladies in protest, we must first con-skier the place of tea within the cultural debates of the early modem period. The standard of living for the English-speaking world had risen significantly by the mid-eighteenth century as a consequence of growing trade and prosperity, which brought the increasing availability of imported luxury items and man ufactured goods. Tea in particular emerged as an important commodity of global trade, tying Britain and its colonies to Asia and providing a medium of exchange in the empire. Because it was light and easy to transport, merchants could sell tea for “ready money” or on short credit (one to three months), which helped them maintain a needed cash flow (Kidd 1752; James and Drinker 1764), In 1690, a mere 38,390 pounds of tea was imported to England and priced accordingly, making it a wealthy man’s drink. By the mid-eighteenth century, however, the East India Company imported more than 2.5 million pounds of tea annually into Great Britain, of which 20 percent was re-exported to the American colonies (Samuel Wharton 1901,140; see also Drake 1884,192-93). In addition, Americans purchased and drank a good deal of smuggled tea. In 1771 Massachusetts Governor Thomas Hutchinson lamented to Lord Hillsborough that the Consumption of Tea in America exceeds what any body in England imagines. Some persons capable of judging suppose 5/6 of what has been consumed the two last years has been illegally imported”(Hutchinson 1771).

Whether legally imported or not, the price of tea dropped in the eighteenth century, making it available to a broader range of people in England and America. Elites, shopkeepers, and the “lower sort” began to drink tea on a regular basis their tastes and preferences shaping the course of the tea trade and also reflecting the emergence of a new consumer class This trend was particularly evident in the American colonies. Although historians have placed the annual consumption of tea at under one pound per person, eighteenth-century observers estimated that some two million Americans drank more than five million pounds of tea a year, at least one cup apiece per day (Samuel Wharton 1901,139-40). With 489,180 pounds legally imported to the North American colonies in 1764 and $15,477 pounds shipped the following year, there could be no doubt that Americans had come to love Chinese tea and had grown dependent on British companies and merchants to provide it (Thomas 1987,28).

Even as it surpassed other beverages in popularity, tea, more than any other consumer item, became controversial and raised debate over its properties and impact on health and moral virtue. A few extolled the invigorating physical benefits that tea afforded the individual. According to one essayist, tea was considered a panacea for head colds, stomach disorders, lethargy, and “well adopted for consumptive, thin, and hectic Persons, or that have Coughs, or profuse draining Ulcers, or an acrid Humour in their Blood” (Short 1750^ 40-41). To critics of tea, however, women, children, and the poor were especially susceptible to the negative impact of the beverage. Some thought it a narcotic like opium, which would overstimulate those of smaller physique. Besides its physical effects, others feared that tea, as a luxury item, would have a corrupting influence on morals, Social commentator Jonas Hanway, in his tome Letters on the Importance of the Rising Generation, devoted a dozen or more pages to “Interest of Money paid to Strangers, and the Consumption of Tea, some of the Causes of the Beggary and Distress of a Part of the Peopled Referring to tea as “this Chinese drug,” he asserted “if we may judge from the nature of tea, and the universality of the fashion, the expence it creates to the poor, and the contraband trade it occasions, it will… prove extremely hurtful to this nation” (Hanway 1767, 2: 179).

In the English-speaking world, tea and tea drinking especially the negative aspects, were almost exclusively linked with the female domain. Popular and literary culture painted a picture of idle, elite, or social-climbing women gathered around the tea table, gossiping and dishing out scandal with tea and
cakes. Poetry was particularly catty; Allan Ramsay, who devoted an entire volume of verse and song to The Tea-Table Miscellany, warned men of women’s agenda:
Then Coffee and Tea,

Both green and bohea,
Are serv’d to their tables in plate,
Where tattles do run,
As swift as the sun,
Of what they have won,
And who is undone,
By their gaming and sitting up late.
[Ramsay 1763, 286—87]

It would come as no surprise, then, that the critique of tea in prerevolutionary America drew on the assumption that mostly women bought and drank the brew, and therefore women, such as those gathered in Edenton, were called upon I to set a patriotic example by refusing it. A Sermon on Tea (Anonymous [1774?]) exhorted women to “taste not the forbidden fruit.” and to be wary of the physical and moral effects on the female frame (fig. 7.3). As early as December 1767, colonial newspapers carried news from Boston that “Bohea tea [a popular Chinese black tea] is now wholly laid aside or used but very sparingly in many of the best families in this town” (Pennsylvania Journal 1767). Even before American patriots destroyed an ounce of tea, a “Number of Ladies of the highest Rank of Influence” from Boston had pledged to “totally abstain from the Use of it (Sickness excepted)11 {Pennsylvania Gazette 1770a).

Besides the cultural critique of tea, or perhaps inspired by it, a heated pamphlet war took place during the late 1760s and early 1770s focusing on the political implications of tea consumption and the place of tea and other British goods in the life of colonial consumers. Despite the patriotism of “Ladies of the highest Rank,” most of the intellectual discourse, instigated by men, came from everywhere but Boston. Pamphleteers sounded the Alarm from New York, and John Dickinsons pseudonymous “Mechanic” roused Philadelphians to think of the broader repercussions of their daily economic choices. Merchants in most major port towns were pressured to sign nonimportation agreements in response to the Stamp Act (1765) and the Townshend Acts (1767-1770). Many agreed to forego purchase and sale of certain trade items, including East India Company tea. Even after Parliament agreed in April 1770 to rescind the Townshend duties on enumerated trade goods, it retained the tax on tea, compelling traders in America to agree in principl—as did the New York committee of merchants—that the colonics should extend nonimportation of British goods (Advertisement 1770; Thomas 1987,176).

The united resolve of American merchants, however, soon unraveled. In June 1770, Joseph Galloway of Philadelphia informed Benjamin Franklin, then envoy to London, that whereas the “People of Boston and Maryland are of the same Opinion until the Duty on Tea is taken off. The Yorkers and Rhode Islanders seem to be divided among them selves, but I think they will soon concur to support the Cause of Liberty” (Joseph Galloway 1770). Tensions grew rapidly between New York, Philadelphia, Rhode Island, and Boston in the years preceding 1773. Philadelphia blamed Boston for breaking their nonimportation agreement too quickly. In September 1770, the Philadelphia Gazette published a list of “Total Importation late the Port of Boston, by 27 Vessels, from Great-Britain, from January 1770, to 19th June, 1770, Contrary to agreement.” including items such as raisins, saltpeter, linens, brass, stationery, books, calicoes, cambrics, playing cards, shoes, china, woolens, silk, glass, and 152 chests of tea (Pennsylvania Gazette 1770b). Indeed, between 1769 and late 1773, it was clear that Boston imported 1,863 full chests and 186 half-chests of dutied tea against the general nonimportation agreement (Pigou and Booth 1773d). Boston, in return, complained that Philadelphia and New York could afford to maintain the boycott because the cities had better access to Dutch smuggled goods than Boston, which housed the King’s Board of Custom Commissioners and their attendant security force, Boston’s position on the remaining tea tax was ambiguous at best; despite the brief two-thirds drop in American tea sales, Boston inhabitants continued to demand and purchase dutied tea (Labaree 1966,3a). By late 1770 merchants in Philadelphia and New York allowed their nonimportation agreements to expire, and American markets were once more flooded with English goods. Ironically, perhaps, the desire to access free markets drove the initial struggle to assert colonial leadership in countering British policy (Pennsylvania Gazette 1770b, 1770c; Oaks 1977,421; Doerflinger 1983,220-22).

Free markets and the demands of American merchants and consumers meant little to the English East India Company which had enjoyed a monopoly on trade since the early seventeenth century. Still, by the eighteenth century, the Company directors faced bankruptcy. Financial mismanagement, the cost of territorial expansion in Bengal, an economic downturn in Europe, and internal divisions among shareholders over retention of unsustainable dividend payments all precipitated a crisis of confidence and growing debt by the 1770s. The American boycotts and the proliferation of tea smuggling into England and the colonies only exacerbated the problems of an already ailing company (Labaree 1966, 58-73), Parliament passed the Tea Act in 1773 as part of broader legislation meant to regulate the Company and keep it solvent. The bill eliminated all customs duties on teas brought into England for re-export to the colonies, while maintaining the hated American Townshend duty of three pence per pound. By effectively lowering the price of tea, the East India Company hoped to sell some of the seventeen million pounds of tea accumulated in its warehouses and fund its debt, The Tea Act also allowed the East India Company, which relied heavily on the sale of tea for its revenue, “to export tea, on their own account” direedy to merchants in America, instead of through British wholesalers. The directors immediately commissioned local firms in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Charleston to receive and sell large consignments in late 1773 (Thomas 1987, 18; Chaudhuri 1978,97).

American merchants, including some chosen to receive die tea assignments, however, were apprehensive of the new terms of trade and worried that the Company might take advantage of its foothold in America after dumping tea on the colonial marketplace. New York merchants Pigou and Booth wrote their Philadelphia counterparts James and Drinker, speculating that “if the India Company succeed in establishing a Monopoly of one Commodity, they will also attempt a second and a third, till the whole foreign Trade of this port falls into the hands of a few monopolizers” (Pigou and Booth 1773a). Others feared the loss of business less but viewed the Company’s monopoly on tea as a sign of larger problems within the British empire of trade. Philadelphia pamphleteer John Dickinson’s “Mechanic” warned that the “designing, depraved, and despotic” East India Company, “well versed in Tyranny, Plunder, Oppression, and Bloodshed…. have enriched themselves,—thus they are become the most powerful Trading Company in the Universe” (Mechanic 1773). Thus on the eve of the tea’s arrival, the greatest misgivings came not from Boston but from merchants in New York and Philadelphia who voiced concerns about the consequence of granting great power to one British trade company and its impact on an American world of business.

When American colonists learned that the first shipments of East India Company tea were scheduled to reach American ports in late 1773 under the sponsorship of American merchants, local patriot committees took action (fig. 7.4). Although it is the turbulence of Boston that we remember, as news of the tea consignments spread along the coast) it was the inhabitants of Philadelphia who first responded to the impending arrival of the cargo and began to take sides. One (faction, a selfappointed “Committee for Tarring and Feathering,” threatened any Delaware River pilot assisted the Philadelphia-bound tea ship with “A halter around your neck, gallons of liquid tar scattered on your pate, with feather of a dozen wild geese laid over that to enliven your appearance” (Etting 187[?], 6). But in mid-October 1773 a more staid group of citizens called a meeting of the populace to discuss a measured response. They resolved that “the duty imposed by Parliament upon tea landed in America [was] a tax on the Americans,or levying contributions on them without their consent” and within a week selected members began to pressure the tea commissioners to resign their posts (Etting i87[?], 4-5),T3ie Philadelphia agents, hoping to avert a crisis,”behavci in a soothing Manner to the People, and… declared without Reserve they would not have the lest Share in executing a Commission so disagreeable to their Fellow Citizens” (Cooper 1773). Indeed, by the time Captain Ayres, the commission of the Polly, arrived in port with 568 chests and 130 quarter-chests of tea in mid-December, all the consignees—Thomas and Isaac Wharton, Abel James and Henry Drinker, Jonathan Brown, and Gilbert Barclay—notarized affidavits refusing to accept the tea or its freight charges. Although one firm offered a compromise to receive and store the tea but not sell it, ultimately Captain Ayres returned peacefully to England with die controversial commodity still aboard (fig. 7.5; James and Drinker 1773; Drake 1884,256).

The diplomatic nature of Philadelphia’s deliberations in October and November set the tone for two other port responses. Merchants in South Carolina and New York also wanted to reach a compromise between their sense of responsibility to the East India Company and the demands of the urban crowds with minimum conflict. In early December 1773 after the London, under command of Alexander Curling, arrived with 257 chests of Company tea in Charleston, laborers, artisans, and planters called a general assembly. In a letter of December 4,1773, James Laurens told his brother Henry that Select Committee Mr, Gadsden, are going about to demand a Subscription from the Merchants to Import no more of that Article [tea] until! the Duty shall be taken off,” but they were also “determined if it be possible, so far as honor & conscience will permit, to keep peace with all Men” (cited in Rogers 1974, 159; Connecticut Journal 1773), The Charleston tea agents, Roger Smith, Peter Leger, and William Greenwood, finally agreed “not to import, either directly or indirectly, any teas that will pay the present duty, laid by an act of the British Parliament for the purpose of raising a revenue in America” (Pennsylvania Gazette 1773; Rogers 1974,158). The consignees publicly resigned their commission, and rumors circulated that the tea ship had returned home. It soon came to light, however, that “a difference had arisen between the merchants and the planters,” and instead of sailing, after a twenty-day period had expired, the shipment was confiscated by customs officer John Morris on December 21,1773, and surreptitiously unloaded and stowed in the Merchant Exchange cellar (Essex Gazette 1774; Thomas Wharton [1773] 1909; Rogers 1974,164). Morris told his brother that since the committee had not come to a clear decision and the consignees refused to receive the tea, “We then gave the captain a permit to land it by sunrise. In the morning I went on board, and called the captain out of his bed, begged he would begin to get the tea out of his vessel .… There was not the least disturbance; the gentlemen that came on the wharf behaved with their usual compliance and good nature to me, and I believe the same to the rest of the officers that were there.” Still, when news of Philadelphia and Boston reached the Charleston merchant committee in January 1774, they rued their inability to keep the tea from port.

New York also managed to resolve its initial conflict over commissioned Company tea nonviolently—by happenstance, if not by choice. During the fall, merchants and the patriot committees of New York were in constant correspondence with Philadelphia. There appeared to be tittle open resistance to the shipment, however, until October 1773, when a series of five pamphlets written under the pen name “Hampden” issued m Alarm to New York inhabitants about the “dreadful machinations” of the East India Company and its attempt to force dutied tea on an unsuspecting public (Hampden [pseud.] 1773, 4). Pigou and Booth, one of the consignee firms, at first Insisted that “if any application is made to us [to resign] before the Tea comes, our reply will be that, we have not a line from the India Company, and can give no answer till the Tea arrives and we receive our instructions from them” (Pigou and Booth 1773b, 1773c; Matson 1998,306). On November 29,1773, when it became clear that both Philadelphia and Boston intended to refuse their shipments, the New York Association of the Sons of Liberty met “to prevent a Calamity.” Like the Philadelphia resolves, New York patriots also feared that the tea and its attendant tax duties would “sap the foundation of our freedom, whereby we should become slaves to our brethren and fellow subjects. Ominously,the Sons of Liberty warned that anyone “whoever shall aid, or abet, or in any Manner assist, in the Introduction of Tea from any Place whatsoever, into this Colony, while it is subject by a British Act of Parliament, to the Payment of a Duty, for the purpose of raising a Revenue in America he shall be deemed an Enemy to the liberties of America” (Sons of Liberty of New York 1773).

New York also watched Charleston closely. Upon hearing of the Charleston meeting of early December and its resolution to send its shipment of tea back to London, New York patriots were determined to follow suit (Connecticut Journal 1773). Although prepared to stop the tea from landing, the committee was probably disappointed when news arrived in late December that the New York-bound tea ship Nancy, under command of Captain Lockyer, had encountered a storm and lost its mizzenmast and anchor. Stuck on Sandy Hook at the mouth of New York Bay, the captain entered the city to resupply. The 698 chests of East India Company tea, however, remained in limbo until April 20,1774, when Lockyer contacted the New York consignees (Abraham Lott and Company, Henry White, and Pigou and Booth). He “left the ship and cargo at Sandy Hook for their safety,but he desperately wanted to ”deliver the said cargo according to the bill of lading” (cited in Tea Association of the United States of America [1924], 6), Wisely, the New York consignees sent Lodger home, after briefly considering a plan to forward the tea to Halifax (Booth 1774a).

The initially measured response of major American port cities slowly gave way as news of Boston’s capsized tea spread. A number of New England towns showed their solidarity and approval by posing resolutions either during the tea crisis in December or immediately following. Lexington, Massachusetts (December 13,1773), and Portsmouth, New Hampshire (December 16,1773), resolved not to receive or sell tea, perhaps for fear that the Boston consignments might be diverted to their towns (Lextington Resolves 1773; portsmouth Resolves 1773), On December 27, Lincoln, Massachusetts, promised not to “purchase nor use any tea nor suffer it to be purchased or used in their families so long as there is any Duty Laid on Such tea by an act of the brittish parliament” (Lincoln Resolutions 1773). Watertown and Newport, Rhode Island, followed with resolutions in January; the former included its belief that Bostonians had not conspired to destroy the tea “but on the contrary were very Desirous and used their utmost indeavours that Said Tea might be safely return’d to the owners thereof—that the Destruction of the Tea was Occationed by the Custom house Officers and the Governours Refusing to grant a Clearance and Pass for the Vessell that was designed to carry said Tea back to the owner from whence it came”(Water-town Resolutions 1774).

Resolutions, however, hardly expressed the strong feelings of many communities. Hie cocky behavior of Boston soon emboldened other American patriots to devise their own “tea parties.” Beyond the decision not to use tea, in late December the inhabitants of Lexington “brought together every ounce contained in the town, and committed it to one common bonfire.” On December 31,1773, John Rowe noted that the people of Charlestown, Massachusetts, “collected what Tea they could find in the Town 8c burnt it in the view of a thousand Spectators” (Cunningham [1903] 1969, 259). According to another witness, they also “publicly burned a barrel of tea, which was found passing through the village to a country trader. It was undutied, but they would not submit to the suspicion of tolerating even the transportation of that through their borders” (Thatcher 1835,189). Into early 1774, tea up and down the Atlantic coast was at risk of being destroyed, though the demonstrations were sometimes nominal. In January 1774, while at the College of New Jersey in Princeton, Charles Clinton Beatty recorded that he and a group of students, “to show our patriotism …gathered all the Steward’s winter store of Tea, and having made a fire on the campus… there burnt near a dozen pounds tolled the bell, and made many spirited resolves. But this was not all. Poor Mr. Hutchinson’s Effigy shared the same fate with the Tea; having a Tea canister tied about his neck”(Beatty [1774] 1920,196).

By early 1774, Americans faced the broader political implications of Bostons actions. Many communities, horrified by the potential repercussions of the Port Bill of March 31 and fearful of parliamentary control, rallied together. Tea remained the major target of their anger. Indeed, New York and South Carolina enjoyed a second chance to demonstrate support of Boston and their own burgeoning patriotism. In April 1774, Captain Chambers, already rebuffed by Philadelphia, arrived in New York on the London with eighteen boxes of tea. Chambers had been “one of the first who refused to take the India Company’s Tea on Freight the last Summer.” for which he had been highly praised (New-York Journal 1773). The New York Committee of Observation boarded his current vessel to check the manifest and femd not only the eighteen boxes of tea, but the captain s own small stash of “2o small Boxes of fine Hyson tea,” which were also dumped into the harbor by an impatient crowd (Booth 1774b; Newell [1774] 1878, 351; Cunningham [1903] 1969, 269; Matson 1998, 305). That fall, when several Charleston merchants attempted to import seven chests of tea aboard the Britannia, “an Oblation was made to neptune,” according to the South Carolina Gazette. Hie consignees “with their own Hands respectively stove the Chests belonging to each, and emptied their Contents into the River, in the Presence of the Committee of Observation who likewise went on boards and in View of the whole General Concourse of People, who gave three hearty Chears after the emptying of each Chest, and immediately separated as if nothing had happened.”

Perhaps the most dramatic demonstration against tea importation came not immediately after the Boston incident but in late 1774, once the First Continental Congress convened and passed the Articles of Association. In Maryland’s colonial capital and largest Annapolis, merchants and patriots struggled with the implication of general trade boycott. Although merchants had resolved in June 1774 to “stop all exportations to, and importations from, Great-Britain” until the Boston Port Bill was repealed, the Annapolis tea crisis came in mid-October, when Captain Jackson arrived on the brigantine Peggy Stewart from London with 2,320 pounds of “that detestable weed Tea,” in violation of the general nonimportation passed by Congress (Meeting of the Committees 1774; Pennsylvania Gazette Boston Evening Post 1774).

Jackson, who scrupulously refused to ship any tea, had been unaware of the cargo when British merchant Joseph Williams placed seventeen chests on board, which Jackson only discovered at sea (John Galloway 1774, 248), Once at Annapolis, a crowd threatened to tar and feather the shipowner, Anthony Stewart, and to destroy his home, The Annapolis Committee of Association, which had unanimously voted to bar the tea from port, agreed that “if the tea was destroyed by the voluntary act of the owners, and proper concessions made, that nothing further ought to be required” [Pennsylvania Gazette 1774; John Galloway 1774,250—51). After some urging, Stewart “volunteered” and with “Messrs. James and Joseph Williams, owners of the tea, went on board said vessel with her sails and colours flying^ and set fire not just to the cargo but to the ship as well.

Not only did the conflagration in Annapolis inspire a late nineteenth-century painting (fig. 77), from which we get a vivid view of prerevolutionary protest against tea, but it brings us back to the interconnectedness of colonial political activity. A few local and seemingly insignificant consumer boycotts, sometimes led by those on the margins of society, fanned the flames of revolution. We know, for instance, that one contemporary Annapolis visitor, Philip Vickers Fithian, took the “patriotic Fire” of the Peggy Steward which he witnessed in Maryland (Parish 1943, 274), back home to Greenwich, New Jersey, where on December 22, 1774, he joined “a number of persons in disguise” to haul out and bum a cache of recently delivered tea (Andrews 19081 22), We can also envision the news of a vessel burning in the Chesapeake quickly reaching die small town of Edenton, North Carolina, where a group of self-proclaimed patriotic ladies met a few weeks later to ceremoniously dump their tea. Just as it took more than Bostonians and a Tea Party to make an American Revolution, the symbols of the teapot, tea parties, and marginalized “others” who fomented rebellion resonated beyond 1773 and North America’s shores. In 1778 German engraver Carl Guttenberg used the image of The Tea-Tax Tempest to comment on the potentially explosive anger of colonial peoples under the domination of imperial Europe (fig. 7.8), Another German, Daniel Berger depicted celebrating African American figures in his illustrations of prerevolutionary protests, implying that white Americans acting to free themselves from British control would eventually have to embrace the core principles of abolition and emancipation of slaves (see fig, 7,1). What began as a drop in a teacup—as an internal issue of taxation, representation, and consumer cost—turned into inspiration for greater upheavals about to shake up European nations and their colonial power over regions of a world far beyond Boston.

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