I recently read with joy a conservative blogger’s attempt to connect the TEA party movement to its historic roots; a topic I have been meaning to write about for months now. The blogger rightly said that the “the historical precedent for the TPM wasn’t the Tea Party event in Boston Harbor on December 16, 1773.” I actually uttered an “Amen, brother!” He went on to describe the Continental Association established on October 20, 1774 by the First Continental Congress in response to the Intolerable Acts. That’s when I realized that I have waited long enough to write this article.
The fact is the Continental Association of 1774 (10 months after the Boston Tea Party) is about 10 years too late. The first organized opposition to a tyrannical government in the colonies came in 1764 in the form of the Committees of Correspondence.
In April 1764 Parliament passed the Sugar and Molasses Act. These laws were originally passed in 1733 at the insistence of the large plantation owners in the British West Indies (can you say lobbyists?) The six-pence tax was never successfully collected, and so the Sugar Act actually cut the tax in half but stepped up enforcement. At the same time, the Sugar Act taxed the sugar, coffee, wine, and spices the colonists used, and also regulated the export of lumber and iron. This “excessive taxation and regulation” immediately impaired the colonial economy. In conjunction with the Sugar Act, parliament passed the Currency Act, which essentially assumed control of the colonial monetary system. The Currency Act also established “superior” Vice-admiralty courts to ensure rulings favorable to British interests.