Last week I attended a discussion and book signing for Defiance of the Patriots: The Boston Tea Party & the Making of America by historian Benjamin Carp. History might not run as deep here in Massachusetts as it does in Sicily, but it’s pretty thick in Boston and the event was held at the Old South Meeting House, a site of major interest to the topic of the 1773 Tea Party.
I will not attempt to summarize the book, largely since I have not read it, but I do have to highlight something Carp mentioned in his talk: tea, coffee, and chocolate – all hot, bitter, caffeinated beverages – all hit the European scene around the same time (the 1580s) and some say they they fueled the enlightenment in Europe and then the revolution in America.
That’s a big claim, but I’m not one to underestimate the power of coffee, tea and chocolate. Europeans gradually figured out that they liked their chocolate, coffee and tea with both milk and sugar, the latter another product of the transoceanic trade that somehow made these goods widely if not cheaply available hundreds of years before GPS.
The colonists dressed as Indians who dumped tons of tea into the harbor in 1773 had autonomy and self-determination on their minds more than a particular choice of beverage, but it would be as interesting to hear their take on 21st century Americans arguing about patronage of small independent coffee shops or multinational megacoffeechains as it would to know what they think of today’s tea party movement.