Who Founded the Tea Party?

By: May 27, 2011

Earlier in this space, both Christina Botteri and Felicia Cravens addressed the question: Who founded the modern Tea Party movement? Both suggested that topic would be an appropriate topic for a Voices of the Tea Party e-book.  I will take the discussion one step further, and suggest another Voices of the Tea Party e-book topic:  the origins of colonial resistance prior to the American Revolution.

The Tea Party began much the way that public resistance to the Mother Country started in the 1760s.  British citizens who were living in the North American colonies were fiercely independent, knew their history, knew British law, and knew their rights.  When the king and Parliament attempted to expand their control over the colonies through greater regulation and taxation, the colonists rejected their government’s expansion of power.  A resistance movement emerged to protest the government encroachment.  The protesters saw themselves as the true defenders of constitutional law who were standing up to an out of control government.

As MIT historian Pauline Maier wrote in her excellent book, From Resistance to Revolution, the movement was spontaneous, decentralized, and mostly non-violent.   There were local community leaders but no one founder and no centralized leadership.  The British press, however, portrayed the movement as an angry and violent mob; bands of radical ruffians.  Sound familiar?

Tim Johnson is a Professor of History at David Lipscomb University and author of  Liberty VS Power: The Founding Fathers’ Vision for America.

Tagged as: Tea Party,  Tim Johnson

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