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Tea and Taxes

Tea and Taxes

The Boston Tea Party occurred on December 16, 1773 as a way to protest the tax on tea imposed by Parliament.  The colonies were loyal British subjects until a series of intolerable acts drove them away.  Taxation without representation.  No place was more ornery than Boston.  The Boston Massacre took place almost three years earlier as Bostonians protested Parliamentary legislation that imposed hardship on the colonies.

Much of the taxation was a result of the debts incurred during the French and Indian War.  The Author Walter Borneman floated an interesting what if scenario about the aftermath of the war, when Great Britain gave Guadeloupe, Martinique and Dominica back to the French.  The money from sugar and rum that Great Britain could have realized from those islands could easily have paid for the war and given Parliament less reason to look to the colonies for tax revenue.

The power of tea in colonial times was significant.  First, it offered a safe way to drink water at a time when cholera and other waterborne diseases were a possibility with every sip.  Boiling water for tea effectively killed the bad stuff before it went into your mouth.  Secondly, tea is made from a mix of leaves from plants that offered medicinal benefits as well.  Tea is full of antioxidants and catechins that help fight diseases and cancers.  And tea has caffeine, which I’m quite familiar with as a net benefit addition to my diet.  The alternative to drinking tea was to drink coffee, which was harder to get in colonial times, or rum, which also killed much of the bad stuff, but wasn’t exactly optimizing the workforce.

So tea was the magical drink of the time, and it really pissed off the American colonies when some bureaucrat in London imposed taxes on it without giving them a voice in the political process.  Taxation without representation was the gasoline poured on the fire that turned loyalists into rebels.  Colonists were less frequently in mortal peril from the frontier at their backs.  The French had been defeated, the frontier was pushing further and further away from the coastal cities and the threat to day-to-day life evolved more and more to be the Mother Country.

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