Historians are adept at picking critical events which change the course of nations. With each succeeding decade, they get the benefit of a longer perspective to judge which events can be deemed the most important in the heritage of a country. With respect to U.S. history, there has been a long-standing debate regarding which city- Boston or Philadelphia- warrants the title “cradle of liberty”. The discussion continues today and this author will attempt to address the issues and events worth considering in making an accurate judgment.
|The Boston Massacre|
|The Boston Tea Party|
Yet the stirrings of discontent actually predated this notorious event by more than five years. In Angry Mobs and Founding Fathers, historian and Alexander Hamilton scholar Michael E. Newton mentions the Sugar Act of 1764 imposed by England upon her thirteen American colonies as the first event which raised tensions among the colonists. The colonial response was so overwhelming; the Sugar Act was quickly repealed. Many in New England were among the first to strongly oppose ‘taxation without representation’, exacerbated by the Stamp Act of 1765, which heightened the discord developing. Rhode Island quickly denounced the Stamp Act as unconstitutional. England imposed other Acts upon her colonies in subsequent years to help pay for the Seven Years War (French and Indian War) which had drained their Treasury. These Acts helped to fan the flames already burning as colonists resented having money taken out of their pockets without being granted a voice in Parliament. The Tea Act of 1773 brought tensions to a boil, resulting in open civil disobedience.
The Boston Tea Party occurred on December 15, 1773 as a protest against the recently imposed Tea Act. Although the terms of the Act actually made tea more affordable for the colonists, they resented the imposition of ANY tax, fee or surcharge without having a say in its passage. In addition, many colonial merchants who dealt with tea resented the monopoly given to the East India Company by England. The Boston Tea Party marked a new level of colonial resistance to British authority. That her subjects would openly resist England’s governmental authority was shocking to King George III and many of his supporters in Parliament. The fact that this event occurred in Boston lends additional weight to that city’s claim to being the cradle of liberty in the early days leading up to the American Revolution.
|The Battle of Lexington|
|The First Continental Congress in Philadelphia|
|The Declaration of Independence|
|The United States Constitution|
|Independence Hall in Philadelphia|