Tea: Symbol of Rebellion

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The Bostonians Paying the Excise-Man, or Tarring and Feathering

London, Philip Dawe


This cartoon refers to the riot in Boston in which John Malcom, a customs officer, was tarred and feathered and theatened with hanging. Here, Bostontians pour tea down the throat of a tarred and feathered excise man. The Liberty Tree has a noose hanging from a branch, and a sign saying "Stamp Act" upside down posted on it. In the background, crates of tea are being poured from a ship.

The Bostonians Paying the Excise Man, or Tarring & Feathering (colored version)



A New Method of Macarony Making, as Practiced in Boston

London, printed for Carington Bowles

October 1774

Another print depicting Bostonians about to pour tea down the throat of a customs oficer who has been tarred and feathered. A gallows stands in the background.

The Able Doctor or America Swallowing the Bitter Draught (line etching)


London, April 1774

A satirical print published in The London Magazine. America is attacked by Mansfield, Lord North who is pouring tea down her throat and has a copy of the Boston Port Bill in his pocket), Bute, and the Earl of Sandwich. A Frenchman and a Spaniard look on, while Britannia weeps. In the foreground, a "Boston Petition" lies torn on the ground. The background shows "Boston cannonaded," while "Miltary Law" stands guard.

The Able Doctor, or America Swallowing the Bitter Draught Paul Revere

June 1774

In Revere's version of this print, which appeared in The Royal American Magazine, the word "TEA" is inscribed on the teapot.

America in Flames (woodcut)

English, The Town and Country Magazine

1 Dec. 1774

This cartoon is critical of those in the British government who promoted the policies which were alienating the American colonies. A letter accompanying the cartoon in the magazines where it was printed described the picture in this way: "America is represented under the figure of a venerable lady, whose critical situation required the aid and assistance of all the patriotc band, who are exerting their utmost endeavor, to quench the flames that threaten the existence of or colonies, for little more than the demolition of an old tea-pot."

A Society of Patriotic Ladies, at Edenton in North Carolina (mezzotint)

London, March 1775

"This satirical print portrays a group of fifty-one ladies in Edenton who decided to sign a petition pledging that they would neither drink tea nor wear dresses of English fabrics. Note the representatives of the Committee of Correspondence in the doorway who are collecting the remaining tea. Anti-tea drinking pledges and publicity addressed particularly to women had been ongoing in the colonies since the Townshend Acts of 1767. For example, a pieces of newspaper doggerel from ca.1769 urged the ladies of Boston to drink ""Labradore tea,"" a substitute for English tea made from the redroot bush:
""Throw aside your Bohea and your Green Hyson Tea,
And all things with a new fashioned duty;
Procure a good store of the choice Labradore,
For there’ll soon be enough here to suit ye;
There do without fear, and to all you’ll appear
Fair, charming, true, lovely and clever;
Though the times remain darkish, young men may be sparkish,
And love you much stronger than ever."""

Same as previous (detail)

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