Tea, benjamin franklin, and the declaration of independence
Discover the role of tea in the history of American independence!
As we noted in our article « tea in history », tea has gone through the ages.
Often simple anecdote, or incident in the lives of some fictional or real personalities, tea has sometimes been a player in history!
So when we talk about America, Amerindians, Benjamin Franklin, and the American Revolutionary War, we do not necessarily think about tea, and yet!
Boston Tea Party
So we will relocate the context.
Between the 16e and 17e century, against a backdrop of race to global economic power, competing with other European countries such as France and Spain, Britain holds 13 colonies in North America:
Virginia, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maryland, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware, North Carolina, South Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Georgia
These colonies (dark red) are located on the East Coast of the United States, as shown on this map.
All of these settlements have interesting stories and events, but we will focus on one province (settlements) in particular, the province of "New England".
New England is New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island combined.
In this set of settlements, we find the most populated city, Boston.
Colonization and mixed
First of all, it is important to know that at the beginning of the colonization, the lands being still very little fertile for agriculture (for New England), the settlers of this region had to focus on trade to survive to their needs, taking advantage of the direct access to the coast, the maritime exchanges being thus largely facilitated (as well as the fishing).
During the first phase of colonization, the promises of a better future (to escape the problems of societies of their country of origin) and of wealth, confer to the colonies expansions very fast due to an always more important arrival of colonists. For example, for New England, it is estimated that the population has increased from about 90,000 to more than 600,000 in less than 100 years.
The revolution and the declaration of independence being a very complex and dense subject, historical sites and articles will explain and detail this historical event much better.
Be that as it may, and to put it simply, certain tensions arise from the mix of religions, statutes and customs of different countries (colonies welcoming people of all origins), all this being under the authority of England. This "mixture of people" therefore, saw the birth of a sense of belonging to the "American" identity, and no longer to England, which imposed different laws (and taxes), giving rise to anger among the settlers. .
tea, commerce and freedom :
To establish its authority and bail out the Kingdom's accounts, England is using its tax levy to enforce and intensify them on the settlements, so we come to our subject, the Boston Tea Party.
Among the taxes, we find the tea tax, which becomes the highest tax among commercial products.
The English East India Company, an importer of tea to the colonies via cargoes carrying large stocks, was simply boycotted by the inhabitants, with John Hancock as head of protest in protest of the tax. At the same time, a smuggling network of tea was set up.
The Crown (the British Government), to alleviate the problem, exempted the English East India Company from this tax, in order to dispose of the stocks of teas at lower rates than the independent merchants, and to break the contraband market, and to take the monopoly on this market.
Against a background of anger and fear vis-à-vis the freedom of trade, already strongly present among the settlers, this last action fired the powder, in every sense of the word, and any sailor of this English company of Eastern Indians (and other tax representatives) were highly susceptible to terrible consequences.
Cargo Tea, Benjamin Franklin, and Declaration of Independence
To ease tensions, England decided to remove a large part of the taxes applied, but still left the tea tax.
So no less than three ships loaded with tea landed in Boston.
In protest, a group of inhabitants of Boston (disguised as Indians to arouse fear) broke into the various ships, and tossed the cargo of tea, estimated at no less than 45 tons, overboard.
In return, England decided to close the port of Boston, and to apply much more severe restrictions, and King George III also demanded the refund of the destroyed tea, which Benjamin Franklin proposed to do.
Following these sanctions, all the colonies decide to put an end to the oppression of the crown and formulate various demands for freedom.King Georges III refuse them and declare the colonies in a state of rebellion, it is the "beginning" of the war of independence.
For the record, following these events and for many years, drinking tea was frowned upon (anti patriotic), and was replaced by coffee.
Still today the Boston Tea Party serves as a reference for various American protests, and repeatedly the subject of the challenges (such as a law on taxes) is thrown into the water in the port of Boston (as in 1998 by example).
A stamp is created with the image of this event:
We also all know the famous Statue of Liberty, offered by France on the occasion of 100 years of the declaration of independence of the United States.