Pass the Tea Please

Today marks the 236th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party. The idea of a “tea party” to oppose taxes saw a rebirth this year as conservative activists staged tea parties on April 15 and beyond to protest current fiscal policies. But the original tea party happened on a cold December 16th in 1773.

The Rosenbach owns several broadsides and other documents from the tea party period. This Pennsylvania piece from Dec. 4, 1773 is one of my favorites and is a useful reminder that it was not simply our northern brethren who were unhappy about the new tea taxes .

A 773tot

The Pennsylvania “Mechanic” warns, in no uncertain terms that “The East India Company, if once they get Footing in this (once) happy country, will leave no Stone unturned to become your Masters. They are an opulent Body, and Money or Credit is not wanting amongst them They have a designing, depraved, and despotic Ministry to assist and support them. They themselves are well versed In Tyranny, Plunder, Oppression and Bloodshed. Whole Provinces labouring under the Distresses of Oppression, Slavery, Famine, and the Sword, are familiar to them.”

On a happier note, Sue Johnson’s artist installation at the Rosenbach, Moore Adventures in Wonderland includes a piece entitled “Tea Party” based not on the events of 1773, but on the madcap adventures of Alice, the Mad Hatter, and the March Hare, and that’s what I’ll leave you with as I go off to pour myself an afternoon cuppa.

Sue Johnson, Tea Party, from the installation Moore Adventures in Wonderland, 2009.