All this research, combined with hours spent walking around the city, looking at old buildings, listening to stories of early inhabitants, and examining historical landmarks, has given me a keener sense of the city and its part in the founding of our country. Monday’s terrorist attack struck deeper than it might otherwise have done as I saw the damage it did to buildings, to innocent people, and to our local psyche.
The training activities also reinforced, however, that there is a history of violence in Boston.
Boston Tea Party: On December 16, 1773, members of the Sons of Liberty dressed themselves as Indians and marched on three ships that had recently carried tea to Boston. The Dartmouth, the Eleanor and the Beaver carried a cargo that was subject to the recently enacted and odious tax on tea. This action was the culmination of months of dissatisfaction with taxes over which the colonists had no control and which did not benefit the colony because it served only to repay England for the expensive French and Indian War. The Sons of Liberty vowed to turn Boston Harbor into a teapot. Shouting that “taxation without representation is tyranny,” they boarded the ships and threw crates of tea—worth $1.3 million in today’s dollars—overboard.
These were acts of rebellion, not terrorism, however. More blood would follow as the American Revolution began but a new country would emerge from that war. The British Regulars and their mercenaries, the Hessians, fought the Colonial Army with guns and cannons. Both sides wore uniforms (at least, when the Colonial Army could afford them). There were rules of conduct and rules for treating prisoners of war. Civilians surely died, women and children among them, but that was not the main goal.
One studies history to learn from it but what we are learning now is that the only way to fight these cowards and psychopaths is to refuse to bow to terror. This afternoon, a neighbor asked me if I was rethinking being a tour guide in Boston. I replied that I am more determined than ever. On Saturday we study Federal Boston and I’m looking forward to it.