Friday, March 18, 2005
Well, what can I say?
Moving to a new city will not be easy, but I'm not scared. I could let anxiety in the door, but I won't.
I'm still in the process of recovering from this illness I had earlier. I'm happy to report that I've been blowing tainted mucus, which is always a good sign. I could describe it in more detail, but I'll spare you.
I've been reading more of America and the Sea, edited by Benjamin Labaree. One of the main ideas in this text is that the Boston Tea Party, 1773, was a catalyzing event of the American Revolution. The chief detail imparted that surprised me was the significance of tea in Colonial American culture. The tea trade was lucrative, and a huge network of middlemen and merchants had sprung up around it. When the British East India Company made this deal with several consignees direct in Philadelphia, New York and Boston (all major colonial ports, Philadelphia being number one), it infuriated the merchants and middlemen. Public pressure to reject the huge shipments of British East India tea was enormous, and in New York and Philadelphia, effectual. In Boston though, Thomas Hutchinson, the colonial governor, resented the public pressure mightily and as one of the consignees, stood to profit and reinforce his authority with the tea deal. He did not back down, and when three ships loaded with East India tea entered Boston Harbor, only Hutchinson could allow them to depart. He refused to, and in fact, went to a place further inland. The local rebels or patriots who had defied Hutchinson for years met at the Old North Church and the rest is history.
The writer also said that if British taxes imposed by the Townshend Act had remained in force on things like paints, glass and paper, there would have been little problem with them, but because the tax on tea was so pervasive and notable, it was a sort of lightning rod of resentment.
As it was, they removed every tax except the one on tea.
It reflects not just the tremendous capacity of American colonists to organize in the 1770s, but the importance of tea in American culture of the time.