By RON KELLEY
On Monday, November 29, 1773, a handbill was posted all over Boston, containing the following words: “Friends! Brethren! Countrymen! – - That worst of plagues, the detested tea, shipped for this port by the East India Company, is now arrived in the harbor; the hour of destruction, or manly opposition to the machinations of tyranny, stares you in the face. Every friend to his country, to himself and to posterity, is now called upon to meet at Faneuil Hall, at nine o’clock this day (at which time the bells will ring), to make united and successful resistance to this last, worst, and most destructive measure of administration.”
These words brought thousands of people together and resulted in the largest non-violent, anti-government demonstration of its time. The British colonists felt they had been taxed enough already and were protesting taxation, without representation. England’s Bill of Rights, written in 1689, had forbidden the imposition of taxes without the consent of Parliament. Since the colonists had no representatives in Parliament, they complained that the taxes violated their rights. Parliament contended that the colonists were represented, whether their members of Parliament lived in the New World or not.
The colonists disagreed. Rather than have the British ship Dartmouth unload its cargo of tea, for which taxes would be expected, they tried to force the ship to return to England. The effort was squashed by the local governor. So, the colonists, led by citizens dressed as Indians, took it upon themselves to make sure that the tea was never off-loaded by dumping it all into Boston Harbor.
However, it was not a mindless, violent mob that destroyed the tea, but sober citizens. The event that helped start an American revolution was observed by a well-behaved, but determined audience. According to the Boston Tea Party Historical Society, “It was the determined work of patriotic men, encouraged by patriotic citizens, who were determined not to be trifled with any longer. When the work was done–when Boston harbor had been made a vast ‘teapot’ – the streets of the town became as quiet as a Sabbath evening. ‘All things,’ wrote John Adams to James Warren, ‘were conducted with great order, decency, and perfect submission to government.’”
The historic dispute was launched because of the hated concept of taxation without representation and the event enraged King George, who received more information about the rebellion through letters of other royal governors in whose respective Colonies there had been serious threatenings, and a large number of “inflammatory” printed handbills. King George sent these on to Parliament for them to devise methods for the immediate “suppression” of tumultuous proceedings in the Colonies. The House of Commons enthusiastically agreed to take steps to maintain “order” in America and thus began the American Revolution – the war for America’s independence.
Now, 236 years later, Americans are again protesting taxation without representation. Tea Parties are being held across America, including here in Walton County.
Bob Sullivan, a retired Air Force officer, is helping organize the Walton County Tea Party Rally at the South Walton Courthouse Annex. He said, “We are concerned about being overtaxed, about putting our country into deficit, crippling our country in the future and being a burden to our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren – if we are ever able to get out from under the debt.”
Mary Brown, a member of the South Walton Tourist Development Council, noted that this event originated from the people and is not connected with any political group. “This movement was started by individuals who expressed their concerns to other individuals. We don’t have a so-called ‘organization.’ This has come about one person at a time. We have been taxed enough already and we don’t feel the government is adhering to the Constitution and to the spirit of America that we have all enjoyed,” she said. “We don’t want to lose that.”
According to the flier that Sullivan and Brown are distributing, “All patriotic Americans are summoned to gather together and let your voices be heard. Our elected leaders have forgotten they are the ‘People’s Representatives’ and it is our duty to remind them of their constitutional responsibilities and limitations. Republicans and Democrats must speak out in one voice to protect our constitutional liberties and demand common sense legislation after careful deliberation.”
Sullivan said, “We hope there are enough Blue Dog Democrats in this county to come out and join us. This taxation affects everyone. This event is a place for everyone who believes in protecting the Constitution, keeping taxes low and the government small and out of our way.”
People are invited to attend the rally and join what is billed as the Second American Revolution. The rally is BYOT (bring your own tea-bags), but Brown said there will be lots of fun activities at the rally, including music and entertainment, and it won’t consist of merely standing around and listening to people give speeches. The rally will be held, appropriately, on April 15, when most Americans (who actually pay income taxes) put the check in the mail to the IRS. The Walton County Tea Party will last from 5-8 p.m. on the grounds of the South Walton Courthouse Annex on U.S. 331S.
Such tea parties are going on in cities all across America, and in one very important place. Back in January, the Boston Tea Party National Committee (BTPNC) passed a resolution supporting a February 1, 2009 Tea Party. The Tea Party effort originated at Market-Ticker.org, where Karl Denninger wrote, “It is time for We, The People to send a strong message to Washington D.C. – no more. No more loading our children and grandchildren with debt. No more bailing out speculators and bankers who made bets they knew were unsafe at the time. No more bailing out people who came to Congress to demand the removal of leverage limits, got what they asked for, then blew themselves up with the very leverage they demanded to be able to use.”
The BTPNC resolution not only expressed support for the Tea Party, it called on each BTP member to mail one bag of tea to the president of the United States, one tea bag to the member’s representative in the House, and one tea bag to each of the member’s two senators.
On February 1, thousands of people began sending tea bags to the Washington D.C., sending the message that the American people don’t want to take on the debt created by bailing out private corporations. “It is time that America returns to its founding values of protecting liberty and expecting personal responsibility,” said Douglass Gaking, chair of the BTPNC. “The American taxpayer can not afford to take on this debt. He did not ask for it, and it should not be his responsibility.
“This resolution comes in the same month that the committee passed a resolution calling upon ‘both houses of the U.S. Congress to promptly pass, and … the state legislatures to ratify, a constitutional amendment repealing section 4 of the 14th amendment, prohibiting future indebtedness and deficit spending on the part of the federal government, and repudiating all federal government debt and debt service obligations accrued prior to the ratification of said amendment.’”
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pensylvania Ave. NW
Washington, D.C. 20500
Rep. Jeff Miller
2439 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington D.C. 20515
Rep. Allen Boyd
1227 Longworth HOB
Washington, D.C. 20515
Sen. Bill Nelson
United States Senate
716 Senate Hart Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
Sen. Mel Martinez
356 Russell Senate Bldg
Washington, D.C. 20510