In the fall of 1772, Massachusetts House of Representatives member Samuel Adams began to stir up some trouble in Boston. The legislature had traditionally paid the salaries of the Governor and of judges, but the British decided that they would pay these officials directly. This removed an important check on power, diminishing the power of the colony’s elected representatives. Adams had had enough of dirty British political tricks. It was time for action.
In November, he formed the Committees of Correspondence, effectively forming a shadow government that was not accountable to the crown. Adams’ document forming the Committees of Correspondence consisted of three parts:
“First, a State of the Rights of the Colonists and of this Province in particular–
Secondly, A List of the Infringements, and Violations of those Rights.–
Thirdly, A Letter of Correspondence with the other Towns.-“
In many ways, it was a precursor to the Declaration of Independence that would follow less than four years later. Samuel Adams’ declaration of rights goes further than our other founding documents. He felt that no citizen could voluntarily cede their rights. These were gifts from God.:
“If men through fear, fraud or mistake, should in terms renounce and give up any essential natural right, the eternal law of reason and the great end of society, would absolutely vacate such renunciation; the right to freedom being the gift of God Almighty, it is not in the power of Man to alienate this gift, and voluntarily become a slave.”
Can we look at today’s federal government and believe anything less than that we have alienated this gift? While we fight over football players and statues and fake news, others fight to cede their gifts (and ours) to a bloated power in Washington.
Eight years ago this month, tens of thousands of Tea Partiers marched on Washington in the 912 March, demanding an end to the bloat. Looking back, it seems that much of our effort was futile. We can look at Washington today and we see little effective effort in Congress to deflate the bubble of bureaucracy. Yet, many of us still fight on. The fight is a lot more lonely today, but no less important. Are we going to cede the gift of liberty through inaction and apathy? We may not gather again in enormous crowds, but we can fight on alone, in our neighborhoods, and in our towns. This was where Sam Adams brought the battle. And, it is there that he helped spark the brush fires of liberty that we celebrate today.
Worcester Tea Party