The First Tea Parties Went Viral, Too

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Everyone knows about the Boston Tea Party -- that is,  the original one in 1773. But somehow, elementary school text book authors forgot to tell us about dozens of others. Turns out, the current Tea Party craze went viral the first time around, too.

In his new book, Ten Tea Parties: Patriotic Protests that History Forgot, Joseph Cummins tells the story of a series of protests and tea boycotts that galvanized revolutionaries from Maine to South Carolina.  

In Annapolis, Maryland, the owner of a ship of tea agreed to allow the colonists to burn the tea, but when mob showed up at his house while his wife was giving birth, he burned the entire ship.  

And in Edenten, N.C., a group of 51 women signed a document agreeing not to let a sip of tea pass their lips until "all Acts which tend to enslave this our Native Country shall be repealed." The meeting’s organizer did this despite the fact that her husband worked for the North Carolina government and was often in London.

Cummins argues that if Boston had been the lone site of a tea party, the revolution would never had gotten underway. It was the sum total of all the civil disobedience that created unity among colonists.

“Before the Revolutionary War, people from the thirteen colonies were not all that fond of one
another -- there were regional differences and prejudices,” Cummins said.

The author believes there are some similarities with present day Tea Party groups. The colonists were battling economic hardship, and were outraged by high taxes and inadequate government representation. But the comparison pretty much stops there.  An argument can be made, Cummins said, that the tea parties are just as tied to Occupy Wall Street.

“The present day Tea Party is funded, at least in part,  by corporate interests, so it didn’t really arise from the grassroots even though it certainly engages average people,” Cummins said.

“The original tea party activists were fighting against wealthy Loyalist merchants and the East India Company, and they were using civil disobedience. So in that way, they are much more like the Occupy movement. ”


More in:

Comments [2]

Rashid Anees from Pakistan

Honorable Sir

With profound regards we humbly request you that We are a voluntary organization which sets up work in Indus Valley Sindh, the southern part of Pakistan our project is to help and facilitate a libraries program in Sindh, with the name of “Mother of Civilization Library” We therefore anxious in collecting resource materials including any books of Sir Joseph Cummins an internationally well-known historian creative author.

Here is a large part of college, and university aged population in Sindh towns and countryside, who love to read and know more about his work specially his books, “ The World’s Bloodies History, anything for a Vot, History” Great Untold Stories, The War chronicles, Eaten by a Giant ,Turn Around Run like Hell, History Greatest War, Great Rival in History, and Why Some Wars Never end” as we are unable to purchase books due to lack of resources and fundamental facilities of libraries, and became very much in troubled after big catastrophe of supper flood which hit the large part of population of this province in which all educational institutions and libraries infrastructure has been destroyed.

Your donations of books can do much to stimulate and encourage the growth of learning, especially among the young generation of Sindh about it. Therefore we appeal your great institution to make a little contribution of above books on compassionate and humanitarian ground; the result would be the placement of new or used books (or equivalent educational materials) into the library for needy and destitute Students.

Hope you will consider our humble supplication with the glance of appreciation and make small numbers of books donation for this libraries program. In case, you wish to know more about our libraries program and various facets associated with it. Please free to contact our office on all the days.

Thanking you

Yours Sincerely

Rashid Anees

Project Manager

Library Postal Address

Name Mother of Civilization Library
Sobho Khan Magsi
City Radhan Station Dadu
Province Sindh
Postal Code 76310
Country Country
Phone 00923003609982

Feb. 26 2012 12:49 AM

“The original tea party activists were fighting against wealthy Loyalist merchants and the East India Company, and they were using civil disobedience. So in that way, they are much more like the Occupy movement. ”

...and they both have the custom of relieving themselves outdoors.

Feb. 10 2012 12:32 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.


About It's A Free Country ®

Archive of It's A Free Country articles and posts. Visit the It's A Free Country Home Page for lots more.

Supported by

WNYC is supported by the Charles H. Revson Foundation: Because a great city needs an informed and engaged public.  Learn more at


Supported by