A return to our roots

Published 3:40 pm Friday, April 17, 2009

By Staff
Agree with them or not, this week’s local, state and national “tea parties” remind us of our nation’s roots and our right as American citizens to voice our feelings about government.
The tea parties have drawn healthy crowds to small towns and metropolitan areas alike, and that proves the American birthright of protesting real or perceived injustices is very much alive.
The latest tea parties, including the one at the Beaufort County Courthouse on Thursday evening, were organized and attended by people who say they are fed up with unfettered deficit spending by government at all levels. They resent the tax burden placed on them to help pay off the debt associated with that spending.
One of the battle cries that helped galvanize the American Revolution is the familiar “no taxation without representation.”
The Boston Tea Party, which occurred on Dec. 16, 1773, was a response to Britain’s Tea Act of 1773, which came on the heels of the Stamp Act, Sugar Act and Quartering Act in previous years.
Some of the good people of Edenton, not to be outdone by their Boston counterparts, served up the Edenton Tea Party on Oct. 25, 1774.
Penelope Barker, wife of Thomas Barker, treasurer of the province of North Carolina, organized a tea party for about 51 women. At that party, according to historical accounts, she persuaded the women to stop drinking tea and buying certain goods from England. She also got them to sign a petition outlining their decision.
Although this week’s tea parties around the country were no doubt promoted by conservative voices, media reports show that many protests were nonpartisan affairs that included Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians and independents.
Retirees, college students who work part time and business owners also voiced their concerns.
Many tea party participants feel like Iowa businessman Doug Burnett.
The tea parties have also spawned another American tradition: counterprotests, which were held across the nation Wednesday, too.
The Associated Press reported that at Fountain Square in Cincinnati a counterprotester held a sign that read, ‘‘Where were you when Bush was spending billions a month ‘liberating’ Iraq?’’
The folks in Boston and Edenton some 235 years ago would understand — and approve of — the protests and counterprotests.