For those who accept the well-worn but dubious assertion that liberty is worth compromising for the sake of security, we present, a quarter of a millennium later, the Boston Tea Party.
It was December 16, 1773. Restless colonists, patriots willing to go beyond unrest and betrayal to full-on revolt against their oppressors, the most powerful empire in the world, stood at the ready. They had been denied representation in the British Parliament and subjected to a menacing military presence. They had been hit with the punishing Stamp Act, taxing all paper products. And now, they faced a levy on their most popular beverage: tea. A figurative red line had been crossed.
As they waited with both feverish anticipation and abject fear for the arrival of heavily fortified British ships hauling a massive load of tea from across the Atlantic, whipped into a frenzy with the rallying cry “no taxation without representation,” little did these hundreds of young patriots – most of whom were under the age of 40 – realize that their impending actions would alter the course of world history. The Sons of Liberty, leaders of colonial rebellion, boarded the ships and heaved chests of tea into Boston Harbor. Violence erupted, and dozens if not hundreds were arrested. The British government treated the protest as an act of treason and clamped down even more harshly. Hostilities between country and colony would soon commence. Revolution was in the air. The Declaration of Independence was signed three years later, and war followed.
Boston Tea Party in the Age of Wokeness
How ironic that the city once known as a beacon of liberty is now, at the celebration of the 250th anniversary of such a demonstration of Americans’ willingness to risk everything for the sake of freedom, ruled by those with little understanding, it seems, for the sacrifices of their forbears. As her city prepared for the culmination of a year-long celebration of the Tea Party with a grand-scale reenactment of the event today, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu saw fit to include in her celebration of the birth of freedom a holiday party open exclusively to legislators of color. Their white counterparts were accidentally invited, only to then be uninvited because of the color of their skin.
The broader irony is that the progressives of today so hellbent on tossing out the constitutional baby with their polluted bathwater would most certainly have contemporaneously supported the 18th century revolution against British imperialism they now essentially seek to reverse. They are trying to turn our Constitution, which has served as a model for freedom-seeking people everywhere, into a transient document susceptible to the passing whims of successive generations, thus robbing it of its power and authority. As they bask in the freedom to make fools of themselves because of the Constitution they despise, many of the empty-headed indoctrinated youth supporting the genocide of Israel have likely been taught that the Boston Tea Party was an act of domestic terrorism by right-wing extremists. Welcome to 2023.
At the other end of the ideological spectrum, the Tea Party movement of the 21st century, begun in earnest some 15 years ago, and which fulfilled many of its aspirations with the election of Donald Trump, actually stands not for tea itself but as an acronym for “taxed enough already.” Not just the name, but the spirit of the movement stands in perfect harmony with the uprising on December 16, 1773.
No Boston Tea Party, No Country
The Tea Party did not, by itself, cause the American Revolution. It did, however, transform the revolutionary spirit of the day into concrete action. It set in motion a chain of events leading to an unthinkably audacious and victorious revolution against all odds and a new form of government for the first time designed from the bottom up rather than the top down, in which the people would elect and hold accountable its representatives in government. The resulting constitutional republic, under threat but still standing 247 years after America’s formal break with England, is in the end what Winston Churchill so eloquently stated about democracy writ large: the worst form of Government – except for all the others. It is akin, if not parallel, to the peril facing the framers of the US Constitution, who were similarly convinced that “we must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately,” a quote most often attributed to Ben Franklin.
What if the patriots willing to cast their fear aside and engage in the Boston Tea Party had instead bent to the will of the distant and unaccountable monarch-cum-despot? There would have been no Declaration of Independence, no Revolutionary War, no victory at Yorktown, no Constitution – and no country. Though we should hardly need one, let this serve as yet another reminder of the sheer bravery, fortitude, and patriotism of our ancestors who risked everything for the sake of the liberty we enjoy today.