Friday, December 14, 2012
"Ten Tea Parties" by Joseph Cummins
Cummins begins: “See if this story sounds familiar: During a severe financial recession, the government of the world’s most powerful country discovers that its largest corporation—let’s call it Corporation X—is rife with corruption, mired in debt, and facing financial collapse. And although the corporation’s directors probably are guilty of criminal behavior, the government won’t consider allowing the business to go down the tubes. It’s simply ‘too big to fail.’ Its finances are intertwined with those of the government and various financial institutions … If you think the only solution is a massive corporate bailout, you’re right—only the corporation in question is not Merrill Lynch circa 2008 but the East India Company in 1773.”
No matter where you stand on the issue of taxes today, I think all tea lovers who are also history lovers will enjoy this book. Now I knew, of course, about the Boston Tea Party. And thanks to some other tea histories I’ve read, I knew about the Edenton Tea Party in North Carolina, where some courageous women vowed they would no longer “conform to ye pernicious Custom of Drinking Tea.” I vaguely recalled hearing about a similar protest in Charleston, S.C., and all of these are covered along with other such “tea parties” in Philadelphia; New York; Chestertown, Md.; York, Maine; Annapolis, Md.; Wilmington, N.C.; and Greenwich, N.J.
These early patriots, it seems, were quite serious about not having taxable tea land in America, and I was surprised to learn some of the lengths they went to in order to impress upon officials the importance of "hearing the people” on this matter. Tons (literally) of tea was tossed overboard or sometimes burned in the public square. Some who tried to accept the tea in order to make a profit on it were tarred and feathered, and one man’s ship was run aground and set aflame so it would be in view of the bedroom window where his wife was in the midst of childbirth! This book definitely gave me a deeper appreciation of those early Americans who fought for our freedom, and I couldn't help wondering what they would think about our country today. "Ten Tea Parties" greatly educated me on those early "tea party" protests—and on a purely selfish note, it also made me immensely grateful our nation’s grudge against tea did not last forever!