The Revoluntionary College Project

tea party

ABOVE - At the 2007 Chestertown Tea Party Festival, crates of contraband tea - and several unlucky Redcoats - are launched, authentically or otherwise, into the murky waters of the Chester River. Photo by Scott Shumaker.

 

Red SwirlTea and Fantasy

Every Memorial Day weekend, thousands of tourists converge on Chestertown to commemorate the 1774 "Chestertown Tea Party." Townsfolk have long told the story that in May of that year, a band of patriots stormed aboard a vessel carrying dutiable tea from London, and threw the offending beverage into the harbor - just as their comrades in Boston had done some six months earlier. At each spring's Tea Party Festival, the event is commemorated with a rousing reenactment, a parade, street fair, performances, and raft races.

But did the fabled Tea Party actually occur? In 2005, students in Adam Goodheart's course  "Chestertown's America" set out to research the incident ... and what they discovered  rattled more than a few local teacups.

Goodheart later published their research in an essay in The American Scholar. "Friends started warning me, only half-jokingly, that I’d better watch my back around town: people around here can take the colonial past pretty seriously," he wrote. "A few reminded me about the “Simpsons” episode where Lisa discovers the secret pirate confessions of her town’s revered founder, Jebediah Springfield, and ends up as a target for historical-society hit men."

Click on the link below to download the article, and read about the mythology and - perhaps even more interesting - the reality of what happened in Chestertown during the mysterious spring of 1774.

Tea and Fantasy PDF

 


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