We, once again, will celebrate the 4th of July in a few days. Our time is spent with family and friends. We might go to a parade, or spend some time watching fireworks or being part of a barbecue. We are a long but short few centuries away from our beginnings. Historians speculate on when the American Revolution began, whether because of the ocean of separation that we had, between England and the colonies, caused us to gravitate towards our own independence long before we declared it or whether our independence began on July 4, 1776. Of this we can be certain the war for independence or as the British might call it, the rebellion began before we declared our independence. What I would like to do is to attempt to refresh our memories as to what life was like by restating in their own words what life was like in those early days. This I will do by borrowing from their own words and from the words of two great historians, Henry Steele Commager and Richard B. Morris. We may have forgotten what happened but it may be a useful reminder for us all to remember what life was like in the colonies.
“It was the end of November 1773 when the first ship bearing tea sailed into Boston harbor, the Dartmouth; she was shortly followed by two others. “The flame is kindled, and like lighting it catches from soul to soul,” wrote Abigail Adams to her husband John. Boston erupted into public meetings and private conferences; ” the town is as furious as it was in the time of the Stamp Act,” wrote Governor Hutchinson.
December 16, 1773, was the day. All day long, people of different stripes gathered and took to the wharves at Boston Harbor, some say as many as 7,000. From the Green Dragon Tavern came the radicals who led the rebellion against the landing of the tea. In the afternoon Josiah Quincy exhorted the crowd.
At the South Meeting House he spoke to the crowd. It is not, Mr. Moderator, the spirit of that vapors within these walls that must stand us in stead. The exertions of this day will call forth events which will make a different spirit necessary for our salvation. Whoever supposes that shouts and hosannas will terminate the trials of the day entertains a childish fancy. We must be grossly ignorant of the importance and value of the prize for which we contend; we must be equally ignorant of the power of those who have combined against us; we must be blind to that malice, inveteracy and insatiable revenge which actuate our enemies, public and private, abroad and in our bosom, to hope that we shall end this controversy without the sharpest conflicts, to flatter ourselves that popular resolves, popular harangues, popular acclamations and popular vapor will vanquish our foes. Let us consider the issue. Let us look to the end. Let us weigh and consider before we advance to those measures which may bring on the most trying and terrific struggle this country has seen.
Shortly after the speech, a a band of ragtag white men dressed as Mohawks went to the ship the Dartmouth and tossed the tea from the ship into Boston harbor.
The following is a song from the rally:
Rally, Mohawks! bring out your axes,
and tell King George we’ll pay no taxes on his foreign tea;
His threats are vain, and vain to think to force our girls and wives to drink his vile Bohea!
Then rally, boys, and hasten on to meet our chiefs at the Green Dragon.
Our Warren’s there and bold Revere, with hands to do, and words to cheer,for liberty and laws;
Our country’s “braves” and firm defenders
Shall ne’er be left by true North-Enders
Fighting Freedom’s cause !
Then rally, boys, and hasten on
To meet our chiefs at the Green Dragon.
As reported by a local John Andrews ten thousand pounds sterling of tea was destroyed that night. For America it was our first act of rebellion, the Boston Tea Party.