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Who Were the Sons of Liberty?

August 19, 2019 in History

By Patrick J. Kiger

Most famous for their role in the Boston Tea Party, the Sons of Liberty used grassroots activism to push back against British rule.

The Sons of Liberty were a grassroots group of instigators and provocateurs in colonial America who used an extreme form of civil disobedience—threats, and in some cases actual violence—to intimidate loyalists and outrage the British government. The goal of the radicals was to push moderate colonial leaders into a confrontation with the Crown.

The Sons marked one of their early victories in December 1765. The.

The political protest by the Sons of Liberty famously known as the Boston Tea Party, took place on December 16, 1773 in Boston, Massachusetts.

During this time, the Sons’ core views evolved, Carp says. They rejected the British notion that they had fought the French and Indian War on behalf of the colonists, and that as a result, the Americans were obligated to pay for continued upkeep of British soldiers in North America. But beyond that, they also rejected the authority of the British Parliament to make laws for Americans. Most of all, they argued the British government could not compel Americans to pay taxes.

Their overarching goals similarly shifted over time. “At the outset, most Sons of Liberty only wanted something limited—for Parliament to repeal the Stamp Act,” Carp explains. “But over time, more and more Sons of Liberty became convinced that independence was the answer.”

The Boston Tea Party

Parliament’s passage in December 1773 of the Tea Act, which propped up the financially struggling British East India Company by giving it a virtual monopoly on selling tea to the colonies, pushed the Sons to become even more brazen. The law threatened the livelihood of the American merchants who had been importing tea from Dutch traders. The Sons couldn’t let that stand.

“I don’t think the Bostonians set out to destroy property. I think they felt it was a last resort,” Carp says. “Their first preference would have been to send the tea back. But when the merchants (consignees) were unwilling, the ship captains were unwilling—it would have ruined them—and the governor was unwilling to bend the rules for them, they felt they had no choice.”

“If they’d allowed the tea to land, they knew that customers wouldn’t be able to resist it—so they would have paid the tax on it AND let a monopoly company, the East India Company, muscle into the …read more


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