Boston Tea Party Sestercentennial Comics

Today is the semiquincentennial of an act by patriots – or maybe by smugglers? Both?

December 16, 1773: Americans disguised as Mohawks dumped cheap, but taxed, English tea into Boston harbor.

panel 1: George the Third of England sat upon his throne.

And to Lord North, his treasurer, made all his stamp acts known.

panel 2: Lord North then took the Stamp Act to a skipper of renown.

Who carried it o’er the Ocean to the Governor of Boston Town.

panel 3: Governor Hutchinson got the Stamp Act and read it to the crowd.

It made them scold and sputter and mutter right out loud.

panel 4: The Housewives brought their teacups to the ancient Liberty Tree.

And smashed them all to smithers, so they couldn’t be used for tea.

panel 5: The men found paint and feathers and tomahawks all keen.

And dressed themselves like Injuns, the fiercest ever seen.

panel 6: On Old Fort Hill they gathered and danced and whooped all day.

When they saw the English Tea Ship sailing up the bay.

panel 7: It didn’t take long to board her and to throw into the sea

Every blessed chest she had of King George’s Stamp Act Tea.

panel 8: Next morning Yankee Doodle pulled his cart up Century Hill,

With the Eagle screaming on the seat, just where it’s screaming still.

From the Boston 1775 blog:

This funny-pages version of the Boston Tea Party appeared in newspapers in 1904 and is reproduced in Peter Maresca’s new book Society Is Nix: Gleeful Anarchy at the Dawn of The American Comic Strip 1895-1915.

It starts with King George giving his Stamp Act to Lord North, which prompts Boston housewives to break their teacups at Liberty Tree. And at the end the American eagle is born. Okay, that’s a historical hodgepodge, but at least the graphics are striking.

The cartoonist was Augustus L. Jansson who did the Sunday page for the June 5, 1904 Boston Herald.

While Boston1775 doesn’t think much of the liberties taken with some of the historical facts in the above, what would they think of the Bicentennial’s Give Me Liberty by Gilbert Shelton, Ted Richards, Gary Hallgren, and Willy Murphy who got the date wrong?

Closer to the event is Henry Dawkins‘ 1774 illustration (with word balloons!) celebrating the Boston Tea Party.

The Library of Congress remarks:

This complicated cartoon shows the major players in the American conflict: the Sons of Liberty, the Loyalists, and the British, as if one were looking down from the far north, so that England is on the left and the American colonies on the right. Although there is no date of publication on the print, it refers to events that occurred between the Boston Tea Party and April 1774, and reflects the British and the American response to the Intolerable Acts.

Dawkins offers some clues as to why he created his cartoon. Fame and Liberty, two allegorical figures in the upper right, celebrate the actions of the Sons of Liberty. On the left, the cartoonist places noted Philadelphia Loyalist, Dr. John Kearsley, in the clutches of Belzebub, a devil. Nearby boxes of tea that have been rejected by colonists, have returned to England. Across the ocean, America, represented as an American Indian woman, aims her arrow demanding that the Sons of Liberty help her maintain her freedom. The Sons of Liberty are feather-clad, a visual reference to the Boston Tea Party. The Loyalists, standing below the Sons of Liberty, are determined to behave as if they, too, did not want trade or tea from England.

The Boston Tea Party edition of J. Carroll Mansfield’s Highlights of History comic strip.

And then there’s the Big Nate Wright version:

5 thoughts on “Boston Tea Party Sestercentennial Comics

  1. The forgotten detail: They dressed as Natives. The kind of subterfuge which is a defining trait of American politics to the present day.

    1. Looking at the comics, it doesn’t seem that the Native America “detail” was forgotten. Except for Big Nate, there are native “costumes” shown in each comic.

      1. I suspect he wanted to drag a particular politician’s chicanery into the discussion but was hard-pressed to find legitimate reasoning.

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