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The Two Faces of the Tea Party Essay

The Tea Party movement of the late 18th century has been reinvented by a different group of political figures in today´s society. Both movements have similar intentions but are protesting and campaigning for very different reasons. This paper will look at today´s Tea Party and compare the protesters and their reasons for protesting with those of the Boston Tea Party all those years ago.

The first movement called ´´The Boston Tea Party´´ began in 1773. It represented action taken by the colonists of one of America´s largest cities, Boston, against the British government who were ruling the country at that point. Colonists in Boston had become frustrated with many of the British government’s policies including their high taxation laws. These issues came to the forefront when protesters took a stand against the Tea Act of 1773 implemented by the British. It is an iconic moment in American history and was a major part of the larger struggle for American independence. The modern movement created in recent times is called the Tea Party movement as a reference to the movement in 1773.

It started in 2009 and is an American populist movement recognized as being both conservative and libertarian, started by a group of people protesting against the American government. The group’s goals are the reduction of government spending, opposition to taxation, reduction of the national debt and federal budget deficit and the adherence to an original interpretation of the United States Constitution (Raphael). Both of these movements have one ultimate goal which is why they have been given the same name in the media. They both hope to change the way their current government works and create a different ruling system.

The Tea Act was an Act of the Parliament of the Great Britain. Their principal objective was to reduce the big surplus of the tea held by the financially troubled British East India Company in its London warehouses. A more detailed objective was to undercut the price of tea smuggled into the British colonies in America. Colonists in America recognized the implications of the Act and immediately a group of merchants and artisans started an opposition to the delivery and distribution of the tea. One of the main arguments that the colonists had was against taxation without representation. They were angered by the fact that they were being forced to pay taxes by a government that they had played no role in choosing. Another source of grievance for the colonists was the domination of the tea industry by the East India Company.

In Boston this opposition culminated in what we now refer to as the Boston Tea Party on December 16, 1773 (Forsht). A group of angry colonists boarded three British ships carrying a large amount of tea in Boston Harbor. They took over the ships and after a short stand-off they made the surprising decision to destroy all the tea by throwing it into the water. The Boston Tea Party gained an angry reaction by the British government because of the huge loss of revenue. Even some Americans were shocked by the reaction of the colonists and Benjamin Franklin stated that all the amount of tea lost in the destruction of the ships should be repaid to Britain.

It also led to the British implementing other laws such as Coercive Acts. These were a direct response to the Tea Party and attempted to lessen the increasing resistance being shown by American colonists. The Act put several restrictions on the colony of Massachusetts hoping that by making an example of them that they will gain their control of America. Although the Tea Party had some negative effects in short years following the protests it ultimately became a major factor in the American Revolution.

The modern Tea Party movement is similar to the previous one because both movements are looking to create political change. The movement began in 2009 shortly after President Barack Obama took office and is still ongoing. The Tea Party is mainly a Republican movement led by several high profile politicians. The 2012 Republican Presidential candidate Ron Paul is a leading figure of this movement, along with many other politicians such as his son Rand Paul, Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann (Cowley). The modern Tea Party movement has nothing to do with tea and it is not a recognized party. It is a group of individuals that share the same collective grievances with the current American government. Their main objectives are to reduce government involvement in the everyday lives of the American people.

They are unhappy with the government’s current policies concerning tax rates, national debt and government spending. In order to seek these changes there have been many protests since 2009, including one high profile protest which was held on September 12th, 2009 to coincide with the anniversary of 9/11. Although the Tea Party movement has gained much publicity over the past couple of years it has yet to have any meaningful effect on the American government. Many see the movement as an attack on President Obama and his administration rather than true complaints about the policies that have been implemented.

These two movements are similar in some ways but have had different effects. Both movements attempted to have an incredible influence on each of their governments. The Boston Tea Party in the 18th century became a part a part of the American Revolution; therefore it was a success in its ultimate goal which was to change the system of government. Today’s movement seeks a similar outcome but has had less of an influence at the federal level. They have been able to halt some of the government’s proposals such as the health care reform. Time will tell how successful the modern Tea Party movement will become as it still ongoing.

Works Cited

´´Boston Tea Party´´. Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th Edition (2011):1 . MAS Ultra- School Edition. Web. 2 Feb. 2012 Cowley, Michael. ´´The Tea Party´s Triumph.´´ Time 178.6 (2011): 34-41. Academic Search Complete. Web. 2 Feb. 2012. Forsht, JimWilmore, Kathy. ´´The Boston Tea Party.´´ Junior Scholastic 114.3 (2011): 16. MasterFILE Premier. Web. 2 Feb. 2012. Goldstein, Jared A. ´´The Tea Party Movement and the Perils of Popular Originalism.´´ Arizona Law Review53.3 (2011): 827-866.Academic Search Complete. Web. 2 Feb. 2012 Raphael, Ray. ´´Tea Party Myths´´, American History 45.2 (2010): 60. MasterFILE Premier. Web. 1 Feb. 2012. Woodard, Colin ´´A Geography Lesson for The Tea Party.´´ Washington Monthly 43.11/12 (2011): 10 . MasterFILE Premier. Web. 2 Feb. 2012.


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