Letter to the Editor

Response to Jerry Crew

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

I noted in the Tuesday edition of the Daily Reporter that one of our habitual letter writers had broken a promise to himself. I think he should have kept the promise; I’ve gotta side with Bob on this one.

The figures we commonly refer to as our “founding fathers” did not start out as freedom fighters. They were mostly wealthy planters, businessmen and artisans, and they really had about all the freedom they could expect, thanks to 300 years of British constitutional reform. In fact, they had so much freedom that they were able to deny it to the slaves and indentured workers who toiled to make their various enterprises prosperous. They were protesters (or protestors, both are correct).

And what were they protesting? The same thing Americans have always protested — taxes. However, not in the way you’d think. They were not protesting the size of taxes. Most of them were wealthy enough to avoid paying the taxes or to pass them along to their customers. No, they were protesting the use of those taxes. What really galled them was that the receipts from the taxes were used to build and maintain roads and schools in Northumbria and Sussex instead of in Massachusetts and Virginia.

So they used the classic forms of protest of the day to object. They made speeches and printed pamphlets, a lot of pamphlets. There was even the occasional direct action protest — remember that tea party thing. That is, until it all got out of hand one day when a group of laborers, unemployed young men and at least one free black man who had been reading some of those pamphlets got into a scuffle with some British soldiers up in Boston. Shots were fired, and, as they say, the rest is history.

However, it is always good to remember that history is a fickle mistress. She will lead you around a lot of nasty corners and up some dark alleyways before you finally get to the boudoir.

— H Schar, Spencer