Lessons Learned Under the Liberty Tree

Lessons Learned Under the Liberty Tree – The Deadline – Midnight 12/16/1773
by John Hansel

As one “deadline” after another in the Debt crisis goes by, I am reminded of another “deadline” faced by the patriots of Boston in December of 1773. Unless they took action by the 16th, the Tea would be landed and the Tax on it would become law.

Some 5,000 to 7,000 of them… the population of Boston was only 18,000… crowded into Old South Meeting House on that cold, rainy morning determined to prevent landing of the Tea, “whatever the consequences”. In this latest attempt at “Taxation without Representation” their relations with the British parliament had reached a tipping point. By midnight they would either make history, or, be history, risking all, one might say, to “get the gov’t off their backs”

Next day John Adams, well aware of the key role which his older cousin Samuel had played behind the scenes, wrote this in his diary. “There is a Dignity, a Majesty, a Sublimity in this last Effort of the Patriots that I greatly admire…This Destruction of the Tea is so bold, so daring, so firm, intrepid, & inflexible, and it must have so important Consequences and so lasting, that I cannot but consider it as an Epocha in History…”

Meanwhile, the “rebellious stripes”, America’s first flag, flew atop the Liberty Tree, awaiting the next turn of events in the rebellion which became a Revolution.


John Hansel is the founder of the Liberty Elm Tree Society, a member of the NHTPC. The date December 16 is significant also because the first modern day tea party was held on December 16, 2007 when we tossed tea in the harbors all over the United States. The tea party movement is soon to celebrate its 4th year.

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