The small Loyal Nine group soon grew into the Sons of Liberty, with branches in every colony. Its members were mostly middle-class merchants, lawyers, and local politicians. They used newspapers and printed sheets called broadsides to encourage the public to support democratic rule in the colonies and fight the imperious taxes. The Sons of Liberty organized boycotts of British goods in protest and successfully pressured Britain to drop the Stamp Act tax, only to see it replaced by different taxes in the Townshend Acts, which faced similar boycotts until most of those taxes were also repealed. But the tax on tea was left in place.
The Boston chapter of the Sons of Liberty was one of the most vocal and active. Its membership included names everyone thinks of when the topic is the American Revolution: Sam Adams, his cousin John Adams, John Hancock, and Paul Revere. Members of other chapters included Patrick Henry and Benedict Arnold.
James Otis, another one of Boston’s Sons of Liberty, made popular the slogan that became the motto for the colonists: “No taxation without representation.” He first said it to protest that Parliament wasn’t treating the colonists like British citizens, but like lesser people. What the Sons of Liberty really feared was being treated like the Irish, a population controlled by London with no say in their own government. According to the English Bill of Rights of 1689, the public—meaning men with property, of course, not women or the poor—had the right to vote for their representatives in the government. Since even the wealthiest colonists couldn’t vote, they had no direct representation in Parliament.
With the tea tax, the Sons of Liberty finally had a cause they could rally all the colonies around. King George III could have solved the whole mess by allowing the colonists to vote. Instead he ended up with a lot of tea soaking in Boston Harbor, the first tea party of several. The Sons of Liberty became the Founding Fathers, uniting the thirteen colonies into a new nation, the United States of America.
Marissa Moss's America’s Tea Parties: Not One But Four! is the first nonfiction picture book to ever share that New York, Philadelphia, and Charleston each had their own tea party that took place around the same time as Boston’s. Click here for more info.
_______________________________________________________________ Memorial Day began with broken-hearted civil war wives decorating their husband's graves, but grew to become a day when the nation remembers all of its fallen war heroes. Kerry Hollihan will tell you about the way she celebrates tomorrow.