Reflecting on Independence Day
Friction between London and the American colonies burst into flame on Nov. 1, 1765, when Parliament enacted the Stamp Act. This nasty piece of legislation was meant to force colonists to pay a levy on newspapers and various other documents. Instead, colonists rallied behind the “taxation without representation is tyranny” cry.
Parliament soon backed down. Two years later the British lawmakers slapped a tax on numerous goods imported by the colonies. Opposition was fierce. Again, Parliament retreated. Every tax was repealed in 1770, with the exception of a tax on tea. Matters reached a critical stage in 1773. A group of colonists boarded British ships anchored in Boston’s harbor, and then proceeded to dump tea overboard. John Adams wrote these words about that seminal event:
“This is the most magnificent movement of all! There is a dignity, a majesty, a sublimity, in this last effort of the patriots that I greatly admire. The people should never rise without doing something to be remembered – something notable and striking. This destruction of tea is so bold, so daring, so firm, intrepid and inflexible, and it must have so important consequences, and so lasting, that I can’t but consider it as an epoch in history!”