61 Comments

  1. James Pollack – prior to the troubles with GB imports were generally coming through GB if not originally from there. Coins were not sent to the colonies in any amount by GB as they wanted commerce to be on the books of the British/Scottish factors and all commerce with other countries and the colonies should go through GB. As I explain – cotton was a more expensive fabric than linen or wool as it came it from India (not much cotton grown in colonies/US until Eli Whitney cotton gin). It went from India to GB – taxed coming into to GB – and then would be reshipped to the colonies – taxed again and sent on British ships. So normally goods from Holland would be coming from GB and on British ships.

    During the period of the Revolution colonial ports were often blockaded so that ships could not come into port with supplies. It is only later that Dutch tea starts coming in.

    The other part to this is – similar to having a victory garden in WW2 was patriotic, not drinking tea was considered to be patriotic to the colonial cause. The fact the tea was Dutch and not British would not be obvious if one served it or was seen drinking it – so it was safer not to have any tea, other than “meadow” tea. Even tea one had from before the trouble started was not suppose to be used. If one was found drinking tea one’s name would be published in the newspaper as sort of an enemy of the cause.

  2. The way I was taught it, the colonists happily paid more for smuggled Dutch tea than for officially-taxed British tea, and the British knew it but were unable to stop the smuggling.

  3. The British tea was cheaper, even with the taxes, but as far as “happily paid more”… it would be more accurate to say they were riled up to reject British tea: it would not be unfair to call Sam Adams a rabble-rouser.

    When my son was eight, we visited the Boston Tea Party Tourist Area (or whatever they really call it). When the guide told us about the British tea tax, my son was skeptical of the story and asked how much the tax actually was. Nobody knew, and I had a pretty fun time of it looking that up pre-Internet, It was the first I’d known that British tea was actually cheaper. That’s NOT the narrative we were taught in schools.

    A few years later, as a substitute teacher, this came up an I told the kids this little tidbit. The regular teacher… was not pleased that I strayed from the party line. But I couldn’t lie to the kids, could I?

  4. Bill: A while ago I read a British history textbook, and it was often interesting to see the different perspective on events in America. Their summary of the Tea Party events was something like “Parliament came up with what seemed like the perfect win-win solution, where the colonists would get cheap tea, and Parliament would get to tax just one good. Unfortunately, . . .”

    It was also fun to see their perspective on the War of 1812, which figures so big in our history books, but for them was just a page in a long chapter on the Napoleanic wars, basically saying “BTW, there was a war with the U.S. as well. We don’t have the space to go into details here, check out the bibliography if you want to know more.”

  5. Oh, everybody was in the slave trade. I love how some countries get so sanctimonious with “Oh, we abolished slavery the importation of slaves in 1790 and slavery itself in 1825, but YOUR horrid country didn’t abolish the importation of slaves until 1801 and slavery itself until 1830.”

    And they’re serious about it.

  6. As I understand the tax on the tea was “a mere thrupence” (3 pence) – on what quantity I have no idea. Tea was being smuggled into the country financed by various merchants – including John Hancock – and the tea with the tax was cheaper than the illegal tea – it was the idea not the cost. When they set up the no tea at all rules they did it in stages – as of this date you cannot bring it into the colonies, as of this date you can no longer sell the tea, as of this date you can no longer have it in your house or drink it. The enforcement was basically by embarrassment and threatening people to not do business with them, etc.

    I am in an online needlework group that dropped down to mostly me and two ladies in the UK. They keep asking me questions about the US colonial period as they told me that it is not taught in school.

    I subscribe to BBC History magazine. In recent issues there have been articles on the slave trade and its connections to various locations and people in (what was then) England. Apparently people there do not know that ships bringing the slaves here and also there were British ships and this is a surprise to them.

    CIDU Bill – I am presuming an error in “you abolished slavery in 1830” or a reference to another country as it was not abolished in the US until the mid 1860s.

    What we call the French and Indian War (partially started by George Washington) is called the Seven Years War elsewhere and was actually so widespread that it is considered to actually be the first world war.

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