Tea Parties: The Way Forward From A Historical Perspective

Patrick Henry in the Virginia House of Burgesses, 1765

“Caesar had his Brutus, Charles I his Cromwell, and George III… …may profit by their example. If this be treason, make the most of it.”

The Tea Party Movement in 2009 set a precedent that hasn’t been seen since the original Tea Party. The last time so many Americans gathered to tell their government that they were dissatisfied with the direction it was going they were speaking to a British Monarch. I don’t need to point out to anyone that it was a totally unexpected and unprecedented occurrence on the American political scene, then or now.

The original Tea Party Movement was in the years leading up to the American Revolution. The original Tea Party, in Boston Harbor, 1773, was perpetrated by the “Son’s of Liberty”. Ushistory.org describes the beginning of the Son’s Of Liberty…

The first widely known acts of the Sons took place on August 14, 1765, when an effigy of Andrew Oliver (who was to be commissioned Distributor of Stamps for Massachusetts) was found hanging in a tree on Newbury street, along with a large boot with a devil climbing out of it. The boot was a play on the name of the Earl of Bute and the whole display was intended to establish an evil connection between Oliver and the Stamp Act. The sheriffs were told to remove the display but protested in fear of their lives, for a large crowd had formed at the scene. Before the evening a mob burned Oliver’s property on Kilby street, then moved on to his house. There they beheaded the effigy and stoned the house as its occupants looked out in horror. They then moved to nearby Fort Hill were they built a large fire and burned what was left of the effigy. Most of the crowd dissipated at that point, however McIntosh and crew, then under cover of darkness, ransacked Oliver’s abandoned home until midnight. On that evening it became very clear who ruled Boston. The British Militia, the Sheriffs and Justices, kept a low profile. No one dared respond to such violent force.
By the end of that year the Sons of Liberty existed in every colony. Their most popular objective was to force Stamp Distributors throughout the colonies to resign. The groups also applied pressure to any Merchants who did not comply with the non-importation associations. Wherever these groups existed they were either directed in secret by leading men in the community or actually lead by them. However, there were opportunists everywhere, too, who would use the name Sons of Liberty to carry out acts of revenge and other violence not related to the cause. For example, in South Carolina a group of sailors, calling themselves The Sons of Liberty, formed a mob to coerce money from people on the streets*. Such behavior could certainly undermine the cause, so the Sons spent a great deal of time policing themselves and pretenders. This was the origin on names such as “True Sons,” and “True-born Sons” of Liberty. (emphasis mine)

This describes exactly the place we find ourselves today. The Tea Parties find themselves on the verge of being twisted, co-opted and abused. People and groups ranging from the Republican Party, the Democrat (Progressive) Party, the Pauliacs, and thousands of those merely greedy souls who see a chance to profit are all making plays for control of the various local Tea Party groups. How did the original Son’s Of Liberty deal with such competition?

They developed (or perhaps grew out of, no one is quite sure the Son’s Of Liberty was a secret organization) Committees of Correspondence. These groups are described as “colonial groups organized prior to the outbreak of the American War for Independence and were established for the purpose of formally organizing public opinion and coordinating patriotic actions against Great Britain.” So they communicated, but remember the state of communication in 1765. They may have written copious letters but each individual chapter was on its own. A letter from Fayetteville, NC (my adopted hometown and a hotbed of revolutionary thinking in 1775 NC) may have taken weeks to reach New York or Boston, and the replies have taken the same amount of time to return. Even upon receiving a reply, any questions or unclear portions of the original question would have to be answered in the next letter, requiring yet another span of weeks before an answer could be received. Each chapter of the Son’s Of Liberty was on its own, marginally linked with all the others by infrequent but focused correspondence. The Son’s Of Liberty movement was local, though each was linked to a “National” headquarters. The amount of time required for communication alone left each chapter as a local organization, forcing each chapter to concentrate on local issues.

With today’s instantaneous global communications possibilities the Tea Party Movement could easily become a nationwide power. With each chapter at the beck and call of a national organization, the force of millions (a couple hundred if you listen to the MSM) of citizens who disagree with the course of our Federal Gov’t could be harnessed to support whatever agenda its leaders chose.

That very harnessing and focus will be the death of the movement! The local focus of the original Son’s Of Liberty and their ability to attune the Son’s message to their neighbors and friends was their strength. Each and every chapter was able to bring their neighbors and friends into the organization and their way of thinking, because they could capitalize on their National reputation while still focusing on their local issues. One mistake with the power of the Tea Parties today will result in the denigration and ineffectiveness of the entire movement. Our self appointed “New Aristocracy”, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and their ilk are slavering to further denigrate us as “Teabaggers” and extremists. We cannot afford a mistake that they can use against us.

Can I prove that a local effort is better? The Son’s Of Liberty already did it for me…

In 1765, as pictured above, Patrick Henry, as the newest member of Virginia’s House of Burgesses drove through the Virginia Resolves:

1. Resolved, that the first adventurers and settlers of His Majesty’s colony and dominion of Virginia brought with them and transmitted to their posterity, and all other His Majesty’s subjects since inhabiting in this His Majesty’s said colony, all the liberties, privileges, franchises, and immunities that have at any time been held, enjoyed, and possessed by the people of Great Britain.
2. Resolved, that by two royal charters, granted by King James I, the colonists aforesaid are declared entitled to all liberties, privileges, and immunities of denizens and natural subjects to all intents and purposes as if they had been abiding and born within the Realm of England.
3. Resolved, that the taxation of the people by themselves, or by persons chosen by themselves to represent them, who can only know what taxes the people are able to bear, or the easiest method of raising them, and must themselves be affected by every tax laid on the people, is the only security against a burdensome taxation, and the distinguishing characteristic of British freedom, without which the ancient constitution cannot exist.
4. Resolved, that His Majesty’s liege people of this his most ancient and loyal colony have without interruption enjoyed the inestimable right of being governed by such laws, respecting their internal policy and taxation, as are derived from their own consent, with the approbation of their sovereign, or his substitute; and that the same has never been forfeited or yielded up, but has been constantly recognized by the kings and people of Great Britain.
5. Resolved, therefor that the General Assembly of this Colony have the only and exclusive Right and Power to lay Taxes and Impositions upon the inhabitants of this Colony and that every Attempt to vest such Power in any person or persons whatsoever other than the General Assembly aforesaid has a manifest Tendency to destroy British as well as American Freedom.

It took many more years and another round of increased taxation but these Resolves were followed by the:

Chestertown Resolves (May 1774)
Bush River Resolution (March 1775)
Suffolk Resolves (September 1774)
Orangetown Resolutions (July 1774)
Mecklenburg Resolves (May 1775)
Liberty Point Resolves (June 1775)
Tryon Resolves (August 1775)
Halifax Resolves (April 1776)
Fairfax Resolves (July 1774)
Hanover Resolves (July 1774)
Fincastle Resolutions (January 1775)
Virginia Declaration of Rights (June 1776)

Each of these “Resolves” or “Resolutions” were issued by local organizations, each owing at least a modicum of credit to the National Son’s Of Liberty, but each incorporating local issues. Look through the links, each shares basic tenets but varies according to the locality that issued it, reflecting that locality and its citizens concerns. Each, like the Liberty Resolves, signed 10 miles from my current home, at Barges Tavern, on the corner of Bow and Person Streets in Fayetteville, North Carolina, carries the concerns of the 60 local citizens who signed it.

This local political power is the strength of the Tea Party Movement, each citizen concerned with what affects him or her, personally. A dozen, or a hundred, or ten thousand local citizens have begun to reassert control over the actions of their local government, and through those actions they will control the actions of the National Government. One over-arching national organization will merely allow more power hungry politicians to use our combined individual force to enrich him, or her, self and promote his, or her, selected national agenda, once again to our local detriment.

To every concerned citizen of the United States of America, please, maintain local control of your Tea Party or 9/12 Movement, force them to serve you first, locally, then, if you can spare it and if it deserves your attention, allow your local organization to support a national effort, under your terms! Once your local organization has control of your School Board, your Town board, your City Council, your County or Parish Commissioners, and your GOP Precinct Committeemen, then allow someone else to borrow the power of your local Tea Party Organization, and watch them like a hawk! The power of the people of America, also described as “the consent of the governed“, has already been hijacked once, by the likes of Pelosi and Reid, now that we are setting about taking our power back, do not allow it to be hijacked again! Keep your power local, and under your supervision and control!!