Boston. The site of the tea party, a world first where so much of the leaves were dunked in water that the fishes surely would have gotten more caffeine than they wished for. But it was also the trigger to one of the most significant events in the history of the world. For this event led to the rise of the modern superpower of the world.
Wow. Imagine that.
Imagine for just a moment that this event was snuffed out. That it did not occur. The 13 colonies continued to remain under the British ‘yoke’. What would the world have become today?
These were some of the questions that swelled in our heads as we headed to the commons in Boston on a beautiful late spring day. This is where we would park in the underground garage that cost us $18 for 3 hours.
Today the commons is a public garden, and back in the early colonist days it was already held as a collective area where horses were grazed etc.
Final resting ground
One of the first stops on this trail is the Granary burial ground next to Park street church. It is here that quite a few of the early American revolutionary heroes are buried. These men were instrumental in stirring up awareness amongst the colonist of the unequal treatment they were getting from the British government. You see back in the day the colonists weren’t viewed as much as equal to those back home.
In fact it seemed that this “practice” was rife amongst the colonizing empires such as Spain and Portugal. You might read of how Spaniards born in the Americas were not considered in the same way as those in the home country, even if they were of noble birth. And so it was the case with the 13 colonies. And the ironic thing was that these patriots of revolutionary America weren’t anti-British. They had sought to correct the wrongdoings of the colonial administration but were rejected outright.
Hence the seeds of separation and independence were sown as these early patriots realize that they will have to,
Hang together or hang separately
The Old south meeting house is the site of the Boston Tea party. It was the largest at the time and was also here that approximately 5000 colonists (as literature goes) gathered and mobbed the tea ships after concluding that British taxation without representation was not acceptable.
The circumstances at the time the tea party occurred were tensed. Barely 3 years had passed since a massacre (see next section) had occurred, and anniversaries had been held annual to commemorate the event. During these events, the fervor of the crowds had been whipped up by the revolutionaries. You must remember this was the 1770s. By that time the British had endured a civil war where parliament ruled even though it may seem the monarchist system retained power. You might recall that the British barons had a fight with King John way back in the 1200s leading to the Magna Carta.
In essence, the right to rule was attached to representation in the parliament, even if the peers (landed nobility) continue to have a final say in legislature.
This was the society in which the colonists had been before departing for the Americas. And this was where it came to a head in the middle of the 1770s. With no representation in parliament, the colonists did not feel it (parliament) had any cause to rule over them since the colonies had been established on charters of self-government.
The conflicting interest came upon a violet twist when parliament tried to enforce a monopoly that tea imported into the colonies can only be supplied by the EIC. That was effectively to prop up a company that was rapidly failing to deliver commercial profits.
Massacre! And a declaration made public
And this was the old state house. As its name suggests, it was the seat of government specifically colonial government. Back in the early 1600-1700s when the colonies were formed, they were given royal charters which effectively led them to be self-governing. The early British settlers were simply transplants from the home country. Back in the 1600s the British were too embroiled with Europe to be give much attention to the colonies and these had developed local representations.
We should at this point leave out the word British, for they were all part the same polity 13 colonies or not. Unfortunately for the colonists, their rising population and wealth began to attract the attention of the home government, and this together with growing rivalry with France led to stronger intervention in the colonies. Many of the revolutionaries were actually in the service of the British government as local militias in the wars against the French colonists in the mid-1700s!
However, as the wealth of the colonies grew so did the eyes of parliament widened. And thus began the long exorable struggle to impose taxes on these self-governing colonies by way of legislation.
So what started as a struggle by colonist Englishmen against taxation from fellow Englishmen from afar led to local protests in the city of Boston, one of the most prosperous of ports. And it led to a riot as local toughs and soldiers (in capacity as policemen those days) acted out what can be seen today on TV all the time. Unfortunately live rounds were discharged when the rioting crowds got too violent.
First shot out!
We sort skipped a lot of sites in between in our walk, as we side tracked to the other sights of Boston. But we did end up on the hill where one of the earliest battles in the American revolutionary war took place. Well, some of fighting anyway but it is the place immortalized by historians.
By 1775, parliament has effectively viewed developments in the colonies as being in a state of rebellion.
And this was to be suppressed of course. But the colonies still had cards on their hands to play – they had local militias, established since the days colonists arrived. And they were well organized too, having seen action against the French and the native Americans. The dice had been casted, a new power was to arise.
Today a monument rises about 67m in the air, made of granite. If one wishes to climb it, get to the museum across the road and queue for a ticket. They issue them every hour or so and with that one can commence the 294 steps to the top. We took the ticket but decided not to climb, so the two tickets remain our souvenirs to this day.
Isn’t it interesting to know how all of this led to the formation of a nation?
We blazed the freedom trail in May 2017