Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Fish and Tea and Taxes

Ne'er let Corruption taint the Patriot's Name.
Poor Richard, March 1759

And so we come to March, with spring less than two fortnights hence. For many, thoughts need focus upon the year's planting, with little time left to ponder the philosophies of men.

Yet, 'twas in March 1775 that Mr. Patrick Henry spoke the words "Give me liberty or give me death!" The sentiment is not often echoed by American patriots in our own times. Indeed, Mr. Franklin would remind us that those unwilling to give up personal safety for liberty are not deserving of it.

This month, too, our thoughts turn to taxes. As well, in those the early months of 1775, in New England, an anonymous author penned these words to "Derry Down," a popular fiddle tune of the day:

What a court hath olde England of folly and sin,
'Spite of Chatham and Camden, Barre, Burke, Wilkes and Glynn!
Not content with the Game Act, they tax fish and sea,
And America drench with hot water and tea.

The names mentioned were all members of Parliament who were sympathetic to the complaints of the colonies. The complaint, of course, was against the taxation of fishing and tea, because those taxed were given no representation within the British government.

Note should be made that, unlike those who lately associate "tea party" with a desire for no taxes at all, American colonists of 1775 were not against taxes. They understood that for the British government to serve and protect them, and to encourage their economy--especially from an ocean's distance away, considering the costs of shipping--taxes were a necessary evil. They merely objected to having no say in where those tax revenues would originate. The tea parties of America in 1775 were a protest not against taxes, but against a lack of representation in Parliament.

The song "Fish and Tea" can be heard on Colonial Revelers CD Revelry, Reflection and Revolution.

Your humble servants,

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