Lepore, Tea and Sympathy

Lepore, Tea and Sympathy - B o s t o nt e a p a r t i e s p...

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Boston tea parties past and present : The New Yorker LETTER FROM BOSTON 8l 2r n0 12 26 PM TEA AND SYMPATHY Who owns the American Revolution? by Jill Lepore MAY 3 20'i0 The Tea Party has roots in a battle that began around the Bicentennial. T h. Boston Tea Party Ship is not open to the public. She has no masts, no rigging, and hardly any decking. To I clamber aboard, I had to climb down an iron ladder, cross two floating docks, crawl under a stretch of ropes, and walk a plank. barefoot. This ship is a replica; the original Beaver, whose cargo of tea was dumped overboard in 1773, is fong gone. ln 1912, three Boston businessmen got the idea of sailing a ship across the Atlantic in time for the tea party's bicentennial. They bought an old Baltic schooner, built in Denmark, and had her re-rigged as an English brig, powered by an anachronistic engine that was, unfortunately, put in backward, and caught fire on the way over. Still, she made it to Boston in time for the hoopla. After that, anchored at the Congress Street Bridge, next to what's now the Boston Children's Museum, the Beaver became a popular tourist attraction. ln 1994, the ship was bought by Historic Tours of America, "The Nation's Story4eller," a heritage-tourism outfit founded in the nineteen-seventies by entrepreneurial Floridians who also run, among other things, duck tours in D.C. In 2001, the site was struck by lightning, after which the Beaver was towed, by tugboat, twenty-eight miles to Gloucester, for renovation, where she has been ever since. all but forgotten. The Tea Party, meanwhile, is the talk of the nation. Last year, the CNBC business commentator Rick Santelli, outraged by the federal government's bailout plan, called for a new tea party. He wanted to dump some derivative securities into Lake Michigan. "This is Americal" Santelli hollered from a trading-room floor in Chicago, surrounded
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Boston tea parties past and present : The New Yorker 8 I 21 I I0 12:26 PM one thing: "lf you read our Founding Fathers, people like Benjamin Franklin and Jefferson, what we're doing in this country now is making them roll over in their graves." The importance of the Founding Fathers and of the events of 1773 for the twenty-first-century Tea Party movement rnight seem slight; surely the name is happenstance, the knee breeches knickknacks, the rhetoric of revolution unthinking. But that's not entirely the case, especially in Boston, where the local chapter of the Tea Party bears a particular burden: it happened here. After Santelli's
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Lepore, Tea and Sympathy - B o s t o nt e a p a r t i e s p...

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