J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Oh, It’s On Now!—Tea Party Talks in February

Last month the Shirley-Eustis House in Roxbury hosted a lecture by Jonathan Fairbanks titled “Rum Parties – Not Tea — Launched Liberty in 1768 for Boston and America.”

Later this month the same house museum will host Prof. Benjamin Carp speaking on his book Defiance of the Patriots: The Boston Tea Party and the Making of America. Guess we won’t hear so much about rum then! Parliament never set a rum tax, after all! (It did put tariffs on the crucial ingredient of molasses, and colonies levied excise taxes on alcohol.) And Bostonians certainly never dumped rum into the harbor! (Like Capt. Jack Sparrow, they would never have been so wasteful.)

But can’t we all get along? According to Peter Edes’s recollection, quoted in full here, “on the afternoon preceding the evening of the destruction of the tea, a number of gentlemen met in the parlor of my father's house. . . . my station was in another room to make punch for them in the bowl which is now in your possession, and which I filled several times.” So the Boston Tea Party was probably carried out under the influence of rum punch.

Ben’s talk at the Shirley-Eustis House is scheduled for Sunday, 27 February, starting at 1:30 P.M. Admission is free, but donations and new membership fees are no doubt welcome.

In addition, Ben will speak about the challenge of researching individual Boston Tea Party participants at the New England Historic Genealogical Society on Wednesday, 23 February, starting at 6:00 P.M. The N.E.H.G.S. headquarters is at 99-101 Newbury Street in Boston’s Back Bay.

And earlier that day Ben’s speaking at the Museum of Fine Arts as part of its high-ticket afternoon semester course, “The American Journey 1620-Present: History, Art, and Culture.” So he might be appreciating tea’s caffeine content.


RFuller said...

"pot valour" and Dutch courage" come to mind....

Anonymous said...

I would be very much interested to know whether my ancestor was at the Boston Tea Party. There is a bit of a twist though, he was a tidesman at the Customs House at the time. In March 1776 he was evacuated to Halifax with his family. The family has been in Nova Scotia for the past 235 years. I found your blog a few days ago; it's very interesting.

Colin Kiley.

J. L. Bell said...

There were some Customs service employees caught up in the Tea Party, though not as participants. I think their names were recorded in the Crown's investigations of the event. There's also a list of Loyalists, including Customs-men, who evacuated with the British military in March 1776. But I don't know what name you're searching for.

Anonymous said...

He is there on that list. His name was John Kiely, which I believe is the John Ciely listed on the document.