tv Boston Tea Party Debate CSPAN February 6, 2016 1:00pm-1:49pm EST
after the debate, colonists marched to griffin's wharf and dumped the tea in the boston harbor. this re-creation of the scene was hosted by old south meeting house and the boston tea party museum. >> and now, ladies and gentlemen, the 242nd anniversary celebration of the boston tea party. >> good evening. my name is george. perhaps you have heard of me.
i have been a shoemaker most of my life, a tradesman of the humble class, but now as an old man, i parade around in my colonial clothing as the last remaining participant in the boston tea party. how strange it is to think what i have seen here in boston, how i witnessed a nation board of protest. i was no student of history or politics myself. my entire education consisted only of a modest understanding of reading and writing. i belonged to no associations, participated in no government, but in the years before our war of independence, i became a staunch liberty boy. i was continually reflecting on the sufferings inflicted on the people of boston by the tyranny of great britain, and my mind
was excited by a desire to aid in chastising the king. >> here, here! >> i sat in this very hall after the bloody massacre in king street in march in 1770, and again with the meetings of the bodies of the people in 1773, when we decided the fate of that tea. [indiscernible] >> i came into this building a shoemaker. i left a true citizen. tonight, friends, i ask you to indulge my memory and join me in a voyage back in time to 1773. you and i will participate in one of the most important events in american history, as i did once before.
we will debate the issues of the tea tax and the three ships of tea floating in the harbor. and then, my friends, we will take a stroll to the harbor, perhaps. >> [indiscernible] >> thank you. [laughter] >> i would like you to imagine what it was like here on december 16, 1773. you have all gathered in old south meeting house, the largest building in the town, and with more than 5000 fellow colonists, it is the largest political meeting ever held in the town of boston. we have gathered here for over two weeks to try to decide what to do about the three shiploads of tea that lie anchored in boston harbor. if that tea is landed, then we must pay a tax upon it.
[indiscernible] >> our previous meetings have determined that the tea must not be landed, or we will not pay that tax! [indiscernible] >> the royal authorities, of coarse, but firm that the tax must be paid and the tea must be landed by midnight tonight. we are at a crisis. all of our efforts to return the tea to england without unloading it have failed! tonight, we will find a legal way to refuse this tea!
now, tonight, we meet as the body of the people, which means even the lower ranks like me may participate in the debate. even you all may lend your voice. in your programs, you have a card. take it out. if that card is blue, you will be arguing tonight as a loyalist. a friend of parliament! if, however, the card is yellow, you will be arguing tonight as a patriot! a friend to his country! if you wish to speak at the meeting, you may do so by getting in line behind one of these speaking tubes, here,
here, and two in the balcony. please wait to be recognized by the meeting moderator. if you do not get a chance to speak, you may still show and lend your support for your fellow loyalists or patriot, but i ask you to do so as i and my fellow colonists once did. to show your support for the speaker, you should shout "ha-za!" now let's warm it up. on my count, 1, 2, 3 -- >> ha-za! >> i am an old man, so these don't work quite as well. i think you could do better than that. remember, king george is
listening. let's try it one more time, shall we? on my mark, 1, 2, 3 -- >> ha-za! >> much better. you can also show your disapproval and disdain for the speaker by shouting "why!" like that. 1, 2, 3 -- >> why! >> well done. just between you and me, i hear that the sons of liberty. the whole tonight, and they may have a secret plan that they will put into action if it is needed. [laughter] >> you are asked to follow the instructions of your meeting moderator. he will alert you when the meeting is adjourned, and when our procession may begin.
we thank the clerk for his kind notes of our last session. i call the meeting to order. we have met here at the old south meeting house since -- since november 29 to decide the fate. at those meetings, this body resolved firstly that the duty imposed by parliament upon the tea landed in america is a tax on the americans without their consent. secondly, that a virtuous and steady opposition to the ministerial plan of governing america is absolutely necessary to preserve even the shadow of liberty, and it is a duty in which every free man in america owes to his country, himself and his austerity.
>> here, here! >> thirdly, the east india company of america is a violent attack upon the liberties of america. and fourthly, it is the duty of every american to oppose this tax. we have made every effort to peaceably prevent the landing of the tea and the paying of the duty. mr. francis wrote. good evening, sir. >> good evening. >> you are asked earlier to get clearance to leave boston's harbor without unloading its cargo of tea. that man, including samuel adams, accompanied you as witnesses. sir, can you tell the assembly what has taken place? >> yes.
commissioner of customs, mr. richard harrison, he confirmed to his superior whose opinion it was that mr. harrison could not do so until the duties have been paid for all the articles on board. >> here, here. >> gentlemen, with our assistance, -- he too said his hands were tied until mr. roach gave him clearance. >> i recognize mr. paul revere. >> i move that mr. roach protest against the customs house and prepare a path for the governor that he will sail with his vessel to london! >> no, no! it is impractical, impossible! it is indeed out of the question, sir!
>> you promised to take your ship dartmouth out of the harbor within 20 days of its arrival. tomorrow is the 20th day. will you, sir, give the order for your ship to set sail this day? >> no, i cannot. >> we have order on the floor. all in favor and the motion to stand with mr. roach, one more time, to governor hutchinson. to get this ship out of the harbor, please say aye! >> aye! >> mr. roach, this body requests that you carry your protest to governor hutchinson and to ask for a path to safely take your guns to the castle. i will make one final attempt. >> i leave for milton immediately. >> oh, no. a sham.
>> it appears this may be our last hope to peacefully return the tea. we will await captain roach's safe return to the meeting house. the chair recognizes mr. john hancock. >> we have adopted the resolutions set forth in philadelphia regarding this oppressive act. every town in the province must appoint this immediate inspection so this is never -- >> here, here! >> the chair recognizes mr. clark. >> we encourage the merchants to stand firm and exercise their right to sell this tea. this tax encourages commerce. is that worth the bloodshed the so-called sons of liberty seek to call upon us? [indiscernible]
>> order! mr. clark has the floor. >> my cousin and i import good english tea in a legal manner, unlike the smuggler of beacon hill, who brings his dutch tea under the cover of darkness like a thief in the night! >> order! order! gentlemen, please, let us maintain civility. the chair recognizes mr. john copley. >> i am an artist, not a politician, but like so many others in this town, i have been pulled into this matter. just a month ago, my father in law and others were wanting to see peace in boston. it was out of their power to send the tea back to england, but they offered to have it stored while they awaited further orders, and they would allow the tea to be inspected to ensure said committees that no tea would be sneaked off and be sold.
but this body refused those concessions. and so with the consensus of the consignees, as they were not involved in introducing the tea to the town, they would not at all interfere with the people. >> the consignee! >> mr. may, you're out of order. >> the consignee -- >> mr. may, you will wait. we will have an orderly house tonight. mr. may, you may now speak. >> the consignees desire to lay the blame among the people of boston entirely. the consignees are under the direct and immediate influence of the governor. >> let us not forget! >> order! >> then who of the seven consignees are governor hutchinson's son?
his friends and in-laws, mr. copley. it is the governor himself who has devised this devilish plan. >> the consignees must be excused. >> all this talk as though the consignees were the passive instruments of the king's well. it was not so long ago that i and mr. clark protested the kings taxes. just last week, he proposed out right an invitation for myself and other sons of liberty to discuss these matters in a civil fashion. the consignees show themselves to be as guilty as parliament themselves! [indiscernible]
>> order! >> mr. molineaux, you speak as though you and your compatriots are the gentleman in this debate? mr. clark and the other consignees are only trying to protect themselves and their families from the likes of you, sir! by refusing to show their face, even in a public meeting such as this -- >> mr. clark, what about you? >> who threatens my good friend mr. clarke for his wise refusal to meet with an unnamed crowd under your so-called liberty tree. was it not you, mr. molineaux, who not too long ago that a mob that ransacked the home of our governor? i believe i should not call you , sir but by your more fitting
nickname. >> order, order! >> can i name a few of the other names that have been called by me? [indiscernible] >> gentlemen! we will have order in this house! gentlemen, let us for member the issue at hand. >> dr. warren, sir. >> thank you. gentlemen, the issue here tonight is much greater than this tax. we must demand our right to representation, because these duties are an infringement of our natural and constitutional rights. we must defend our right to representation, on us stands the fortune of america! >> we recognize mr. may again.
>> what good would representation do us if we were to send 13 representatives to that unjust body, one from each colony, or two or three from each colony? we would still be outvoted. and then, we would have legitimized the right of parliament to tax us. representation in parliament is a strawman, i say. we hold our right to tax ourselves and will not surrender that right to the corrupt placement and phenyl politicians of parliament. >> here here. >> the chair recognizes dr. gardner. >> i am distressed that someone -- some would seek to delude us
about this wholesome and legal --. if there is a poison about us, it is which flows from the lips who inspire the mob. is protesting a tax worth the destruction of trade in this town? >> the chair recognizes mr. samuel adams. >> governors have no right to speak and take what they please. instead of being content with the station that signed them, they instead become absolute masters, desperate to kill! as a private man has a right to say what wages he will pay in his private affairs, so has the
community to determine what it will give of its substance to the administration of public affairs. >> the chair recognizes mr. archibald wilson. >> i apprehend that the application of a modicum of decency and civility to this assembly will have no ill effect. as i suppose mr. adams would have us drink his healthy new england rum or good english tea. i fear any excesses of parliament are less than the petty tyrants and despots in this town who hide behind john hancock and wish to destroy all those who oppose them. i strive to serve my customers of all political persuasions. dissent is the lifeblood of the
body politic, but when it interferes with my life, it defies the principles that the courts uphold. [indiscernible] >> order! are there any others who wish to speak this evening? let them come forward to the front of the aisles, to the corners of the balcony. we have many who wish to speak thus far. clearly, we have a few more. the chairman recognizes the young gentleman to my left on the main floor. serve? >> my name is adam colson. i think parliament's taxes are ruining the lives of most of us who live in the colony. [indiscernible]
>> i think it is man's right to be free, and to live with a just ruler, not an unfair tyrant like king george! >> order! the chair recognizes the speaker to my right on the balcony. >> can you not see that this issue has caused nothing but trouble? brother has turned against brother, father has turned against son. i argue with my brother-in-law, john hancock, all the time. to what end? let us pay this small tax and be done with it? >> i recognize my speaker to the right on the floor. >> i come in and out of the harbor, and i see many of the town's merchants. if only seven or eight men are allowed to sell tea, what happened to the other ones?
>> i am a wig maker. you loyalists think that this issue is over three cents, but it is not. we are fighting over representation in parliament, a right of all english men. >> the chair recognizes the speaker to my left on the main floor. >> my name is john cochran. i sell wine, not tea. what is stopping parliament from taxing every item it chooses? we need representation! in >> the chair recognizes my speaker to the right. >> i go for the peaceable route. parliament has removed all other taxes. why not just go for the two pence, drink our tea and enjoy
>> my name is nathaniel russell. i have friends that are both patriots and loyalists, but i am caught in the middle of his tax issue. but the patriots have begun a campaign that includes threats and violence, so i can no longer remain neutral. [groaning] >> be careful what you say, young sir. >> the sons of liberty are not following the law. however, there is no justice. we must do what is right! >> the chair recognizes the speaker to the right. my name is james brewer. i understand that you loyalists are upset by some of the violence of the patriots. if violence is what it takes for the king to listen to us, then i support the patriots. >> the chair recognizes the speaker to my right. >> under the tea tax, that tea is smuggled.
i encourage my colonists to purchase british made goods. >> we are concerned about the violence, but as a patriot, i think we must consider our fight until our voices are heard. hi >> the chair recognizes my speaker to the left in the balcony. >> this chaos must stop. let us return to our orderly lives. >> the chair recognizes my speaker to the right on the balcony. >> what will happen if we continue to divide parliament? it could close the harbor. is this protest really worth risking our freedom? >> i recognize the speaker to my right on the floor. >> my name is isaac williams. we need to demand our full
rights as english citizens. without representation, gentlemen, parliament is committing a violent attack on the liberties of the colonists. >> i recognize the speaker to my left on the floor. >> mr. chairman, members of the congregation, i am a merchant. these meetings have been tiresome and a waste of our time. why not leave well enough alone? >> the chair recognizes the speaker to my right on the balcony. >> i feel that a bunch is ahead of us if we do not resolve this issue. we must not let the riots and violence rule our streets. >> the chair recognizes the speaker to my left. >> these meetings have been a waste of our time. why not leave well enough alone? >> the chair recognizes the speaker to my right on the floor. >> my name is benjamin tucker,
junior. by refusing to send tea back to england, the tea makers are causing even more problems in boston. >> i am a baker, and i believe that we must follow the good laws passed by parliament. laws protect us and keep the colony strong. >> the chair recognizes my speaker to my right. >> my name is nicholas. i am very angry that i am not being allowed to sell tea. our businesses are losing money. the king's laws are preventing us from providing for our families. >> i, too, am a simple merchant. since the tea act, i cannot sell tea, and i feel like i am punished. for what? >> for the right to speak your mind.
>> i am a weaver of this town. we must not push too hard against king and parliament, or the costs of our community may also unravel. >> the chair recognizes the speaker to my right on the balcony. >> my name is joseph. the loyalists say we should behave as englishmen and talk about this peacefully. i say we have brought this forth in parliament for 10 years now, and they still have not listened. >> the chair recognizes my speaker to my left in the balcony. >> my name is samuel, a loyalist. we should behave like english men and talk about this peacefully. we have been talking to the king and parliament from his 10 years -- for almost 10 years now, they still have not listened and they are not going to listen. the time to talk with them is over. the time for action is now.
>> the chair recognizes the speaker to my right on the floor. >> my name is peter harrington. my family has been boycotting british made goods and will continue to do so until the king and parliament start listening to the colonists! >> the chair recognizes my speaker to my left in the balcony. >> i say the king is infringing on our liberties by telling us what we can and cannot buy. we are being treated like second-class citizens. until england gives us the respect we deserve, i will smuggled tea into the colony. >> be careful about your public statements, young lady! the speaker recognizes the person to my right and the balcony. >> we are all englishmen who must all obey the laws of king george. violence must stop and order must be restored.
>> the chair recognizes the speaker to my right on the floor. >> i fought in the french and indian war, and we did not need the help of the bridges -- british soldiers to win. why must we pay our troops we never asked for? >> the chair recognizes my speaker to my left on the floor. gentlemen! sir, you may speak. >> i understand that the loyalists are upset by the violence. i understand that violence is a way to make important changes. if violence is what it takes, i support the patriots and what other methods they choose. >> be careful. >> i am john cooley. these so-called "patriots" complain about a 3/10 tax, yet they pay higher prices for
smuggled dutch tea, i ask you, where is their sense? >> order! the chair recognizes the speaker to my right on the balcony. >> my name is charles, a loyalist. the sons of liberty are causing violence and making boston a dangerous place to live. remember the boston massacre? you patriots threw snowballs at the soldiers. no wonder they fired on the mob. >> the chair recognizes the speaker to my left in the balcony. >> i think king george has been good to us, and i worry about what will happen to the patriots if they continue to defy him. >> the chair recognizes the speaker to my left on the floor. >> as a doctor, i worry about the well-being of people in this violence, but as a patriot, i believe we must continue with our fight until our voices are heard and the king takes us
seriously. we must stand up against the king. >> the chair recognizes the speaker to my right on the balcony. >> my name is benjamin simpson. i say it is unfair that king and parliament say we can only buy british goods. i think i should be able to drink french tea if i like. >> the chair recognizes the speaker to my right on the floor. >> i consider myself a proud english subject. i did not partake in the protests, but watched silently. now i see that i serve the crown asked by upholding her values. this means joining the protest. >> the chair recognizes the speaker to my left in the balcony. >> my name is joseph.
only seven merchants are allowed ea.sell east india company t we are at a disadvantage. we don't have our voices heard. >> the chair recognizes the speaker to my left. >> my name is edward. the tax may be on tea now, but what is stopping parliament from imposing a tax on wood, sugar, or cloth? we need to continue to boycott unfair laws. >> the chair recognizes the speaker to my right on the floor. >> you loyalists complain about violence and how violent we patriots are. violence may be terrible, but tyranny is worse. i say if violence is the only way to get them to stand up and take notice, then so be it. violence is it. [gavel] >> order!
-- keepertavern heber and i say we are not children who throw fits when we do not get what we want. we must settle for negotiation. >> the chair recognizes the speaker to my left. >> my name is robert davis. i am tired of being told what to do by the government that has ignored us for years and knows nothing about our lives. if i have to pay taxes, i want to see where my money is going and know that it is helping my fellow townspeople. >> the chair recognizes the speaker to my left on the floor. >> i asked my compatriots, what will happen to this colony if we continue to defy the king? if we anger the king, taxes will be the least of our problems. >> order! the chair recognizes the speaker to my right on the floor.
>> enough with the liberty tea nonsense! we are all english man and subject to the king's laws. >> order! the chair recognizes the speaker to my left. >> my name is cooper. i teach my sons to respect their father's words. we are not the sons of liberty. we are the sons of our father and our king who protects that. >> the chair recognizes the speaker to my right on the floor. >> we patriots must continue to protest. >> my name is john. i ask you, loyalists, who shall respond?
i will ask in her name. i ask you, my brother, to join me, and together we shall fight for justice. >> the chair recognizes the speaker to my left in the balcony. >> why should we support a government whose laws are hurting our economy? we must protest. >> ladies and gentlemen, the night grows late. i realize we have many more who wish to speak that we have time to accommodate. the question may soon be called. i will ask the monitors to please select one more person who may speak this evening before we try to move to some resolution on this issue. my left? >> my name is john murray.
everyone here knows that 3/10 is a small price for the king's protection during the french and indian war. you are acting like spoiled children. [indiscernible] >> order! order! the chair recognizes the speaker to my left on the balcony. >> why can we only buy english tea, and why were only seven merchants chosen to sell this tea? the tea tax is an insult to the people of boston. >> the chair recognizes the speaker to my left on the balcony. >> i pride myself in keeping warm, dry, and well fed. why should we go away from the king's protection? >> the chair recognizes the gentleman to my right on the floor. >> i am a rope maker.
why do we allow the king to trample our rights as englishmen? we should rid ourselves in the king's laws and create our own government! ha-za! >> order! order! order! this is an open assembly, treasonous or otherwise. in the events that governor hutchinson refuses this provision, will this meeting abide by our former resolution? >> so moved. >> so moved? second? >> second. >> all in favor of the motion please say aye. the motion is carried. we have a notion that the tea shall never be landed in the province, and every town must appoint a committee of inspection to prevent the tea
from coming into this town. all those in favor? >> aye! >> opposed? >> nay. >> the chair is in doubt. all those in favor? >>aye! >> opposed? >> nay! >> it is the resolution of this meeting that the tea shall not be landed. the chair recognizes mr. quincy. >> gentlemen, it is not the spirit in these walls that will withstand us. the exertion of the stay will call forth certain events that will make a very different spirit necessary for our selfish -- salvation. those who suppose that shouts will and the trials of the day entertain a childish fantasy. let us look to the end. let us weigh and consider before
we moved to those motions that will bring forth the most trying and horrific struggle that this country ever saw. >> mr. roach. >> mr. roach! >> mr. roach, we have been waiting for you, sir. >> you have returned from requesting a pass from governor hutchinson. to return your ship to england with the tea without unloading it. can you tell us what has happened, sir? >> yes, sir. his excellency said he is willing to grant anything consistent with the law, and his duty to our king -- the vessel passage until it had been properly cleared by the customs house! i will finish!
if the vessel could obtain proper qualification, it would make no distinction between my vessel or any other? >> dr. young. >> he must not suffer harm to his personal property. he has shown us today he is a good man who has done everything in his power to satisfy us. >> thank you, doctor. captain roach. >> under the present circumstances, will you order the dartmouth back to london with its cargo of tea? >> i apprehend that will be my ruin. >> if you will not order your vessel with its cargo back to london, will you attempt to land the tea? >> i will have no part of the tea, but if properly called upon to do it, i will attempt to decline the regulations of the
custom commissioner with my own security. the king can do nothing more to save the country. >> mr. adams, you are out of order. mr. hancock, you are out of order, sir. order! order! this meeting is not yet adjourned. keep to your seats. mr. adams. >> mr. moderator. i moved that dr. thomas young, who desired to address the meeting. >> mr. young, you away to be recognized by the chair, but you may be recognized by the chair and you may speak. >> thank you, sir. mr. moderator, you are most kind as opposed to others like him over there. this tea is really a slow poison that has a corrosive effect on all those who consume it.
i have given it up since it became a political poison -- >> this meeting is not adjourned yet. keep your seat. sir, you have the floor. >> thank you, sir. tea produces nothing of value. it is insidious and leads to various distempers. i trust that you fellow countrymen have decided to eschew this tea, and will resist your urges toward this wicked weed, and to all other needless imported commodities. we are here in boston a free and
generous people, and we have decided that to gather here today to exercise our right, which is long-standing right. where this order will take us, i cannot rightly prognosticate, but mark my word. now that the hand is on the plow, there must be -- >> order! order! mr. young, you still may proceed. >> thank you, sir. what measures will the ministerial government in london take? will they resent this meeting? will they dare to resent it? who knows. what measures will they take
against us? will they punish us? how? by quartering troops on us? by annulling our charter? by laying on more duties? by restraining our trade? or how? who knows? the question is whether our assembly and deliberations were truly necessary, and -- >> sir! >> i believe they absolutely and positively are. we must be strong and resolute in case any one of you here be called to account for being at this. and may god defend our right to freedom for this country!
>> order! order! you the people have manifested exemplary patience, having done everything in their power to preserve the tea without paying duty on it and preventing it to be sold. we have attempted in every way to send it back unharmed to its owners. therefore, this meeting is resolved. >> we must go. maybe harbor be awash tonight, with tea. >> every weekend on american history tv on c-span3, we feature programs that tell the american story. some of the highlights include tonight at 8:00 eastern, history
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