In a couple of recent public lectures Tufts University historian Benjamin Carp provides some much needed historical perspective on the “Tea Party Movement.” Carp is writing a book about the history and memory of the Boston Tea Party (1773) that promises to be the definitive work on the subject. As far as I know, he is the first historian to place the Tea Party in its larger global context.
Carp is asking some great questions:
- What is the relationship between tea and sugar? What role does this play in the Boston tea party? Is there a West Indian slave connection? If you can boycott tea to protest against the political slavery of the British Empire, why not boycott sugar as a protest against the institution of black chattel slavery? Did the Boston Tea Party detract Americans from participating in a global anti-slavery movement?
- What was the meaning of the Indian disguises? Carp offers some suggestions.
- How was the Boston Tea Party perceived around the world? How was the event constructed? How was it used in American history?