December 29, 2009

Let's Get Colonial!

In 1774, after much oppression from the British Government, Parliament decided to tighten the vice even further by passing a series of Acts known as the Intolerable Acts. These Acts paved the way for colonial outrage and eventually the Revolution that happened just a year later. What exactly led to the implementation of these Acts and how did the Americans respond?

The concepts of exploration and colonization were surely wrapped in a struggle for power and control. But, we also know these actions happened because of the desire to obtain certain goods. Gold, spices, fabrics, etc. were a strong secondary focus of these exploration efforts. One of these goods was tea. By 1698, the British Parliament had given the East India Company a complete monopoly on tea importation. Fearing open-market competition, Great Britain required the colonists to only purchase their tea from Great Britain. This legislation was passed in 1721. As time went on, taxes were raised on tea and tea importation. This in turn caused a recession of the tea market (go figure). Therefore, to help raise revenue for Parliament, they passed tax laws on tea sold in the colonies. This tax was known as the Townshend Act of 1767. The colonists fought over the idea that Britain could tax them without giving them any representation in Parliament. This was voiced the loudest by the Whigs so said that Parliament had no right to do anything outside of what the Constitution mandated. (Hmmm...sound familiar). Parliament, however, served up a hefty "screw you" and said that they have this ability in "all cases whatsoever." (Hmmm...also sounds familiar).

The Whigs met these acts with oppositions and boycotts. Many merchants organized agreements that they would not import tea from Britain. By 1770, the Townshend Act was repealed in all manner except for its taxation of tea. The British Prime Minister, Lord North, asserted that this is still showing that the British have the right and the power to tax the Americans. The colonists celebrated the reduction in taxes and British tea was once again common place in the market. (imagine that - reduce taxes and business picks back up). However, with the ascendancy of King George the III, the tax on tea under the Townshend Act was reinstituted. Lord North was warned that this might cause colonial resistance again, but he stubbornly pressed for this legislation. This, along with other methods of oppression imposed on the colonies, led to the iconic revolt in Boston's harbor.

When the Dartmouth arrived in Boston Harbor, a Whig, Samuel Adams, called a meeting in which thousands attended. They resolved to have the Dartmouth sent back to England without collecting any of the tea tax; as well as assigning 25 men to stand guard by the ship to make sure it wasn't unloaded. Governor Hutchinson declared that the Dartmouth would not leave until the tax was paid. Then, on December 16th, 1773, about 7,000 men gathered outside the Old South Meeting House demanding that Governor Hutchinson release the ships without paying the tax. He again refused and Samuel Adams declared that these meetings could do nothing further to "save the country." Some believe this was a pre-established slogan to initiate the tea party. Adams could not keep control over the meeting and many headed out to Boston Harbor. That evening, many boarded the ship and began to dump the tea into Boston Harbor. Britain was outraged and decided to punish the colonies with the Intolerable Acts.

The Intolerable Acts consisted of these facets:

1. The Boston Port Act - The port of Boston was closed until the East India Company was reimbursed for all the tea lost at sea

2. The Massachusetts Government Act - The Massachusetts government was brought under complete control of the British Government. Any positions in the government were to be appointed by the King.

3. The Administration of Justice Act - This allows the Massachusetts Governor to move the trials of royal officials to other colonies or even to England. This was thought to allow British soldiers the opportunity to harass Americans and then escape justice.

4. The Quartering Act - This Act gave the British soldiers the legal right to be quartered in the homes of the colonists without their consent. (Note the 3rd Amendment to the US Constitution.)

5. The Quebec Act - This Act took away colonial settled land and gave it to Quebec.

These Acts were the spark that lit the fuse on the American Revolution. The colonists had had enough. They knew they wanted freedom and remaining under the rule of the King wasn't going to supply such freedom. The colonists understood that as Government expands, liberty contracts. They knew that their freedom was being strangled by massive Government regulations on their lives. Ultimately, they knew that you cannot be diplomatic with a tyrant. They rose up and fought off the greatest military power of the day.

Right now, we have tyrants running our Government. They are imposing massive Government regulation by means of health care, the environment and global warming, taxes, etc. Our freedoms are voted away each day by those we voted into office. As long as we have the right to vote, we have the ability to produce revolution again. However, if the day comes that we cannot change Government with the ballot box, rest assured we will change it then with the cartridge box.

Catch the fire of freedom!

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