Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Boston Tea Party in the Hedge

This is John, this Sunday, with a couple of Osage "oranges." If there was any kind of economic value to these things, we could be millionaires. This year generated a particularly rich crop of the fibrous balls which are the legacy of ground sloths and mammoths that used to exist in this part of the world.

Osage Orange, aka Maclura pomifera, is not a very big tree, and comes in male and female forms. The wood is very dense and makes good tool handles and, because it does not rot, very good fence posts. Osage was also used by the native Indians to make pretty good bows.

I pointed out to John the enormous white oaks on this land -- some of the best boat building wood in the world. One of the smaller white oaks on this property can be seen over his right shoulder

Osage Orange has also been used in boat construction. Here in Maryland, where we were digging, the 59-foot, 1768 replica schooner Sultana, was made with Osage Orange frames.  The Sultana, the smallest boat in the British navy at the time, was used to patrol the Chesapeake for Townsend Act violators.

The Townsend Act, or "Tea Act" is the law that "Tea Party" activists routinely screw up the meaning of.

Here's the real story:  the British East India company had warehouses groaning under the weight of tea from India. In order to get rid of the tea, the British LIFTED the tea tax for the British East India Company (and the British East India Company alone) so that British tea could economically compete with tea that was being smuggled into the colonies from the West Indies. The Sultana's job was to catch boats smuggling tea into the Chesapeake Bay -- tea still subject to taxes under the Townsend Act.

The Boston Tea Party, then, was NOT at act of resistance to a tax being imposed by Britain, but an act of protest against a tea tax being lifted.  The colonists, dressed as fake Indians, dumped the untaxed East India Company tea overboard so it could not compete with their smuggled tea from which they made a good business.  Yes, that's right:  the Boston Tea party was an act of vandalism by smugglers who were pissed off at a lowering of taxes which was harming their tea-smuggling business.

Surprise hunts for a mouse inside an old Osage Orange fence post.

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