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The Boston Tea Party

December 5, 2021

Born in New England in 1804, my ancestor Diantha Louisa Hull Goodwin lived to see 95 years – most of the 1800s. The country was young but growing when she and her husband helped settle an area of southern Ohio. Her obituary cites her accomplishments as living a long life, being the mother of 13 children, living during the time of our first presidents, being the daughter and granddaughter of men who were involved in The Revolutionary War and The War of 1812, and for giving five sons to the Union Army (all but one returned and the fifth is buried here in Nashville). Included in the obituary is a record of her statement that her grandfather was the "captain of the Boston Tea Party."

That statement could not be proven since the participants had to remain anonymous, but I did discover that the statement was correct about him being a captain and that the "tea party" action was involved. Captain James Hull was the commander of the whaling vessel Dartmouth, one of the ships that carried the tea that was destroyed in the Boston Tea Party. Since they were forbidden to unload the tea, the captains of the ships wanted to carry the tea back to England. The governor would not give his permission, so the ships stayed in Boston Harbor. By midnight of December 16, 1773, they were boarded by protestors who proceeded to unload 46 tons of tea into the harbor (worth more than a million dollars in today's money).

When Hull later shipped out to England, he gave testimony about the events surrounding the "tea party" which included the fact that no other cargo was touched and that after the action, the raiders swept and cleaned the decks of the ships, making sure all was in order before departing. The Sons of Liberty did not do damage to other cargo, nor to the ships, nor to any person. The ships were American; it was the tea that was British, and the tax on it was being protested. The Colonists would not stand to be taxed on the tea without representation in Parliament.

The Boston Tea Party was the first step to becoming The United States of America. It is not usually celebrated, but I like to remember the day. A tea party is always in order and at the close, my guests and I have been known to march to the nearest body of water (or to a kiddie pool out back) where we have taken great pleasure in tossing a tablespoon of tea each into the water while declaring, "No taxation without representation!" If you go to Boston today and you buy tea, there will be no tax on it! As an interesting aside, drinking coffee instead of tea was a political statement during the early days of the Revolution, and coffee became the most common beverage of choice in America! Coffee shops sprang up everywhere. Patriots gathered in the shops to have coffee and to discuss the news and, perhaps, plan their next actions!

To learn more about the Boston Tea Party and tea parties in general, check out our online catalog and order some materials! Some of the many resources are listed below.

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Donna Reagan has served as Children's Specialist at the Bellevue Branch Library since 2002. She produces My Storytime Place, a local TV show for young children. The ALA's Every Child Ready to Read initiative forms the foundation of her early childhood programming.