“The Tea Party Guys”

Here is a letter I recently sent to the Midland Daily News:

Bruce Harris, in his recent letter, draws parallels between the “modern Tea Party guys” and the “original Tea Party guys” (“Tea Party history,” April 12).

First, he claims that “[the Tea Party activists] were driven to act by respectable merchant Bostonians whose tea smuggling income (dodging earlier excises) was about to die at the hands of the East India Company, which could undercut their rates.” Merchants smuggled tea because the British Parliament had made it illegal for the colonists to purchase tea from any source other than Great Britain. Additionally, the East India Company was only able to “undercut rates” because of government subsidies that were funded by increased taxes on the colonies. The Boston Tea Party was a revolt against government oppression and taxation, not a revolt to help smugglers (who wouldn’t even exist in the absence of the East India Company’s government monopoly).

Bruce’s second and final claim is that “after the Tea Party, the British put an embargo on the city, depriving the citizens of any tea, except that smuggled at exorbitant rates.” This analysis is akin to claiming that the American Revolutionary War resulted in an increase in the price of ammunition. Although the price of ammunition may have increased during the American Revolutionary War, the war itself was about American independence, not fluctuations in the price of ammunition.

Kurt Bouwhuis


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