The Boston Tea Party – No Taxation Without Representation
The Boston Tea Party is one of the most cherished stories from the founding of our country. This is one of the events that inspired the American colonists to stand up against tyranny imposed on them from the British government. We have heard a lot about the Tea Party of today so I thought it would be a good idea to read the history books to get the views of the original Boston Tea Party members and bring them to light and compare them with the views expressed today.
First, however, it is important that we go back and evaluate the history of the Boston Tea Party to see what led these people to want to throw the tea into the harbor in the first place. Until 1764, the colonies were allowed self-rule but with the conclusion of the French and Indian War in 1763, the British were low on money so they decided to begin enforcing their trade laws to try to increase their capital. The British began to go after smuggling in the new world by using Writs of Assistance that gave the British customs inspectors the ability to search colonial ships. The customs inspectors always had this ability but never enforced the rule until now and this enraged the colonists because the violators were not given a trial by jury but instead were sent to the British admiralty courts. Also, the British began levying taxes against the colonists. The legislation that Britain tried to enforce before the Tea Act was the Sugar Act of 1764 that taxed sugar, coffee and wine, the Stamp Act of 1765 that taxed all printed material and the Townshend Acts of 1767 that taxed items such as paints, glass, paper and tea. According to United States History website:
If taxes were necessary, then the Americans wanted their own assemblies to impose them. Further, the colonists wanted Parliamentary recognition of this perceived right. Essentially, “No taxation without representation” really meant, “No taxation by Parliament. No representation in Parliament. Let us run our own affairs.
The British did not think they were being harsh on the American colonists. The taxes imposed on the colonists were less than those of the mainland English citizens. They kept the colonies safe during the war but at a high monetary cost and the taxing of the colonies went only to paying for their defense even though the taxes raised did not cover the expense needed to maintain all of the British troops in the colonies. The Americans disagreed. They believed the troops garrisoned in the colonies were not needed since the French threat had been removed. Why would they want to pay taxes for garrisons that were only there to make sure the American colonists stayed in line? They weren’t causing trouble so why was there a need to watch them. The colonists always received permission in the past for levying their own taxes but now this right was being taken away and because they did not have their own representation in the British Parliament, they were being denied their own traditional rights as English subjects. This was going too far. In regards to the Tea Act, the British Government gave the East India Company permission to transport tea, duty-free, from Great Britain to America to sell. Because they did not have to pay the duty meant they could undersell the American merchants who sold tea, which would monopolize the tea trade. This would drive many colonists out of work. The Bostonians felt that something had to be done. If they had allowed the tea to land and be off-loaded, then the British would have had a moral victory in that the colonists were finally paying the tax they created for them. The colonist knew they could not keep the people from buying the tea and if they passed a law outlawing the purchasing of the tea, they would have had to arrest and prosecute those who did buy it. Also, there were many Tories, those still loyal to England, which would have had no problem with buying the tea. Destroying the tea seemed to be their only option.
Having studied the history of this important American historical event, I want to compare the views with those of the Tea Party today. After listening to the interviews with Tea Party members at the rallies and seeing signs that declared that this person wanted their country back and another one that wanted government to get out of their Medicare, I decided that more people needed to start getting the word out about the actual history of that time period. I may be a progressive but I believe that I am as patriotic as the next American so I would like to belong to a Tea Party variant that would be more tolerant and more understanding of the ideals expressed by our founding fathers. I stand for the rights expressed by the people in 1773 Boston who stood against a government that did not allow them to represent themselves and I stand for those who had the will to create their own country, which in turn created the United States that I am very proud of being a citizen. However, since this already is my government, I want to support it in its endeavors to try to help the majority of Americans and not just the one’s that use rhetoric as a weapon to remove all of the politicians that do not agree with their values. This new Tea Party could include moderate republicans, independents and conservative democrats who could form a rational majority that could tell our government to work for us and not for the campaign donations given to them for their elections. There are many of us who believe in the ideals that formed our country but we are seeing it distorted today. The members of congress often read the polls of what people may be in favor for but, unfortunately, they vote against the interests of the people in their district with no repercussions. Instead of voting for their own interests, many voters choose to vote according to wedge issues that often divide people than bring them together. Many of the Tea Parties of today proclaim that they want a limited government with lower taxes and that the government is not representing their beliefs and values with the legislation being passed. Many of the founding fathers did want limited government with lower taxes but if they lost the election, they went ahead and went with what the majority of Americans wanted with grace. In fact, since every election in the United States, they have all been mostly peaceful and if a majority of voters chose their candidates then those that lost abided by the decision.
The phrase, ‘No Taxation without Representation’ was very important to the founding fathers. The colonists did not have any representatives in the British Parliament and were denied their traditional rights as English subjects. Today, all Americans have representation through their congressmen or congresswomen. As citizens, we all have the right to vote for and speak to our elected representatives. Many people may not like who was elected to their districts but this fact cannot be denied because they were elected by a majority of voters. With the rise of the Tea Party candidates who have won their primaries and elections, we can see they do have the ability to elect new candidates to represent them, which was lacking during the times of our founding fathers. Having patriotic fervor is wonderful but it is good to understand our history first, so that we can move forward with reason and understanding. The founding fathers argued with each other all the time but they were able to forge a nation that valued democracy above all else and in a democracy, debate can be good for finding the issues that matter the most to the majority of Americans just as long as everyone can remain civil and remember that we are all Americans first. We can honor our founding fathers by showing that we can compromise with each other and reach a consensus to work together to better the life of all Americans with pride and dignity.