Precursor to a revolution 248 years apart?
On December 16, 1773, a party of about 60 men, encouraged by a large crowd of Bostonians, donned blankets and Native American headgear, marched to Griffin Wharf, boarded three cargo ships, and offloaded 342 cases of tea in Boston Harbor.
These American colonists and their supporters protested both a tax on tea and the supposed monopoly granted to the British East India Company for the exclusive shipment and sale of tea. The tax was an attempt by Parliament to demonstrate its supposed right to levy colonial revenue without colonial consent, i.e. taxation without representation.
The following year, 1774, in retaliation for colonial resistance, Britain enacted four punitive acts – known as the Intolerable Acts or the Coercive Acts – to assert its authority in America.
These were clearly attempts to re-impose strict British control over the American colonies, which had enjoyed relative independence for 10 years. However, according to most reports, its implementation came too late. Seen today as repressive, later in 1774 they became the justification for convening the First Continental Congress.
The rest is history. American history, that is!
Are there any parallels between the Tea Party uprising of December 16, 1773 and the “riot” of our nation’s Capitol on January 6, 2021?
In recent weeks, in light of its first anniversary, historians have debated how the January 6 event should be recorded in our history books. Was this a riot, riot, rupture, protest, act of intolerance, or simply a frustrated and angry group of American patriots exercising their right to assemble – indeed their Second Amendment right to form a militia?
There is no doubt that Britain chronicled the events of 1773 from a very different perspective than America. How would history have recorded the events of December 16, 1773 if the Tea Party activists had failed? How would history record the events of January 6, 2021 if the insurgents had been victorious?
The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution clearly states that “a well-regulated militia, necessary to the security of a free State . . . shall not be violated.” The intention of putting this into our country’s Constitution is obvious, it was the people’s militia who brought them there.
Most political observers and analysts view the January 6 mob as nothing short of a militia. Aside from the fact that they didn’t appear to be “well regulated,” does the Second Amendment actually protect their actions?
Our history books not only praise but also glorify the actions of the Tea Party “revolutionaries” who resorted to violence and vandalism over tax issues and government shipping concessions. The cumulative cost of their revolt in today’s dollars was nearly $800,000. Of course, the consequential costs associated with the American Revolution—in terms of lives lost, dollars spent, and property destroyed—were much greater.
The January 6, 2021 attack on the country’s capital claimed five lives and $30 million in damages over alleged voter fraud allegations. When, if ever, should violence be condoned, regardless of truth or fiction?
The parallels between the Boston Tea Party on December 16, 1773 and the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021 are too obvious to ignore. Both were angry citizens protesting against rules, laws, or conditions that they felt were unfair or unjust. Both involved violence and destruction. Both were supported by some and loathed by others.
Both were forerunners of the revolution. Let the recording show, one succeeded and one didn’t!
– This is the opinion of Times Writers Group member Paul Bugbee, a resort owner in Central Minnesota. His column appears on the third Thursday of the month.