#2. The Colonists Were Crazy
Here's maybe the most blatant display of colonial bullshit, because this is where everything starts coming together. Remember that expensive war the colonists dragged Britain into? Great Britain thought it was only fair that the colonists share some of that cost, especially since the victory showed more benefit to the colonists than it did Great Britain. That's reasonable. To cover this cost, GB tried throwing in some more taxes, which is also reasonable. As you'll recall, though, the colonists hated paying reasonable taxes, so all of the new taxes, (except the tax on tea), were repealed.
We can't even conceive of a government repealing taxes based solely on us not wanting to pay them, because that's all taxes, but Great Britain pulled out. Just like that. Just to make the colonists happy, (those sonsabitches loved their tea), Great Britain came up with the Tea Act of 1773, which would give the colonists tea that was both cheaper and better than the tea they were getting from smugglers. Still sounds reasonable. France is out of the colonists's hair, some taxes are removed, and they get high quality tea at a cheaper cost.
The colonists threw the tea in the water.
It worked like this: the East India Trading Company was being driven into the ditch by colonial smugglers, and they only had one asset left that could save them: tea. So, Britain gave them an exclusive deal to sell their high quality tea cheaply to the colonists. Then, the British bundled it with a smaller import tax. Yes, it was like having to buy every Wii bundled with a copy of Let's Lotion Stuff 2, but the whole damn thing would only be 25 dollars, so it sounded like a fair compromise. Britain just wanted the Tea Tax in there to a) show they still were running shit at least a little bit and b) discourage people from illegally buy low-grade crap from smugglers.
Smugglers, like John Hancock, hate being told they can't smuggle. Their businesses were metaphorically dependant on everybody remaining horrified by Great Britain's terrible, (reasonable), awful, (in retrospect economically responsible) taxation practices, so they started a smear campaign in New York and Pennsylvania, painting the Tea Act as just a sneaky way to get everyone to accept new taxes. By this point, "new taxes", while vital to paying down the still-a-massive-problem national debt, was a phrase now capable of making the colonists go apeshit like it was the fucking secret word on Pee-Wee's playhouse.
"THEY'RE TAKIN' OUR TEA!"
And in this case, the secret word demanded that some motherfuckers better get their tea-dump on.
Riots, pamphlets and one Tea Party later, all done to help level the playing field for tea smugglers who were not about to let quality goods get in the way of their incredibly shortsighted business model.
#1. They Stirred Up Religious Bigotry to Get People on Their Side
To be fair to the asshole teabaggers, there were a few legitimate reasons to hate Great Britain but, to be fair to history, the colonists didn't really choose any of those reasons. They picked greed and bigotry.
In 1774, Parliament passed the Quebec Act, which did two big things: 1) it provided religious toleration and rights to Catholics and 2) it expanded Quebec's land in Canada down to the Ohio River, away from the colonists (who, remember, stole it from the French in the first place). Basically, it was like a big fruit basket from the British to Catholic French Canada with a card that read "Sorry we conquered you; maybe in time you will learn to love us?"
At this point, even after the Boston Tea Party, Massachusetts was the only colony that was really on board with the whole independence idea. Massachusetts, that is, and people like Washington, Jefferson and Patrick Henry, who invested a lot of money in the Ohio territory and didn't exactly want to sit back and let the British give it to the stupid French and Indians, so they could ruin it with hairy armpits and crepe teepees. They were outraged and felt oppressed, sure, but they were still the minority at the time. They needed to convince the mostly king-loyal public that these laws were meant to oppress them silly, and they weren't going to do that with the whole "I put all my eggs in the 'Ohio Country' basket and am personally screwed if this goes tits up" argument, so they decided to tap into the old English standard: frothing, belligerent Catholic hating.
Except for one problem: people didn't really hate Catholics anymore. But they definitely had it in them to hate anything that they thought was ruining the Land O' Opportunity, and the founding fathers totally played into it.
"Are you just going to sit there and let the goddamned Catholics eat all your babies?"
Alexander Hamilton argued that Quebec would become an irresistible magnet for Catholics who would then destroy the colonies, which is really about a drink away from just coming out and saying that Quebec is a self-arming death-ray that shoots popes. Paul Revere drew a cartoon showing the writers of the Quebec Act in cahoots with the Devil, and the Catholics for being one bishop short of Captain Planet:
It might not seem like a lot, but it was enough to enrage the colonists. Predictably, the British were pretty confused that THIS is what got the masses to turn against. But considering how much of a complicated clusterfuck the issues between the colonies and Great Britain had already been, it makes perfect sense that it would take something as simple as the 18th century equivalent of THEY TOOK OUR JAHBS.
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