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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The American Creed

In his second inaugural address, President Obama repeatedly referred to the American creed.  At RealClearHistory, Brian Vanyo discusses the origins of this creed, with specific reference to the Tea Act crisis of 1773:
The Tea Act was designed primarily to prop up the struggling British East India Tea Company by granting it a license to export its tea duty-free to North America. But it also aimed to undercut the price of tea being smuggled into America — tea that many Americans bought to evade the tea tax imposed by Parliament’s 1767 Townshend Acts. The effect of the Tea Act was that Company tea became cheaper (even with the Townshend tax) than smuggled tea, thereby presenting the American people with a corrupt bargain. They could buy Company tea at lower cost, but by doing so they would be implicitly accepting Parliament’s right of direct taxation in America.
The American people rejected the tea altogether. When a shipment of Company tea arrived in Boston in December 1773, Samuel Adams famously led the Sons of Liberty in an attack on the ship and tossed the tea into the harbor. This brazen act demonstrated that the American people were committed to liberty at all costs — that they would not betray their principles even when doing so might benefit them financially.

The Boston Tea Party made the Revolutionary War practically inevitable, for Parliament responded in 1774 by passing the Intolerable Acts, which then prompted the American people to convene the First Continental Congress.
At Philadelphia in 1774, the First Continental Congress requested the British government to redress its many grievances, but it also proclaimed in the Declaration of Colonial Rights the sacred principles upon which the American political union was based. In the very first resolution of this document, Congress declared that the American people, “by the immutable Laws of Nature ... have the following rights: ... that they are entitled to life, liberty and property; and they have never ceded to any foreign power whatsoever, a right to dispose of either without their consent.”