The 5 Most Important Things Ever Done While Black Out Drunk
History, they say, is written by the victors -- who usually have a vested interest in portraying themselves in the best light possible. This light notably does not include things like "mass, pants-pissing drunkenness." But as we've shown you before, many historic events were such drunken shitshows that it's hard to imagine what modern civilization would even look like if not for the intervention of booze.
The Boston Tea Party Was An Alcohol-Fueled Riot
History remembers the Boston Tea Party as the night when angry patriots ended a standoff with a bunch of British ships by boarding them and throwing crates of tea into the harbor, thus giving birth to America. What history usually fails to mention is that this event would probably have ended much more diplomatically if said angry patriots hadn't been raging drunk on the night in question. Hell, there's a better-than-even chance that most of them didn't even remember it the next day.
Unlike the modern Tea Party, which you only wish you could forget.
The drinking started after a meeting led by Samuel Adams at the Old South Church, when a group of men gathered at the house of newspaper publisher and tea-hater Benjamin Edes to discuss what to do about the British ships. Among the participants was a potent "punch" of red wine, rum, and whiskey to facilitate the flow of ideas, served in Edes' family punchbowl, which his son Peter was instructed to keep topped off like the country itself depended on it.
Hours later, the Sons of Liberty were deeply under the effect of Edes' freedom juice, and the party began to reach that precarious point in a heavy drinking session at which property damage becomes an inevitability. Sam Adams declared (with a likely slur in his voice) that diplomacy was getting them nowhere. Drunk logic dictated that they should therefore dress up as Indians, stumble down to Boston Harbor, and show the British how irrational they were being by wrecking their shit.
"Next target: income tax. Burn all the money!"
The punch-drunk patriots boarded the ships and spent hours tossing the tea crates into the harbor, their efforts reportedly slowed by mandatory barf breaks. One Son of Liberty, John Crane, was knocked unconscious by a falling crate and mistaken for dead by his comrades. Thus did they waste additional time trying to figure out where to hide the body, eventually determining that the best place for it was in a pile of wood shavings in a shop near the dock. Given the situation and BAC levels that night, this is admittedly not the worst place Crane could have woken up.
The destruction of the tea outraged even those British officials who'd been supportive of the colonists, prompting Samuel Adams, whose speech had partially inspired the protest, to launch a propaganda campaign to shape public reaction to it. Thanks to the publicity efforts of the most recognizable face of America's craft beer renaissance, this heroic act of patriotic defiance is barely remembered for the drunken hissy fit it mostly was.
Which probably puts it on par with most Boston drinking stories.
And speaking of the founding fathers ...
Hessian Booze Forced Washington Back Across The Delaware
Nearly as iconic as the Boston Tea Party is General George Washington's crossing of the Delaware river to surprise-murder the British on Christmas. It was such a turning point in the war that textbooks rarely mention that soon after, the troops were too drunk to continue fighting.
On the morning of December 26, 1776, a day after the crossing, Washington's forces defeated the British's Hessian allies at the Battle of Trenton. The story goes that the Americans were betting on the German mercenaries being too trashed from celebrating their Lord and Savior's birth to shoot straight the next day. To the surprise of the victorious American troops, however, they captured not just 1,000 hangover-free Hessians, but all their unmolested kegs of booze as well.
"Aw, snap. This is how you bitches fight sober?"
When Washington was informed of the Christmas miracle, he ordered his men to empty the kegs. He then presumably learned a valuable lesson about clarifying what he actually meant. Within nanoseconds, the American forces dedicated themselves to chugging the booze out of existence.
According to witnesses, the soldiers "drank too freely to admit of Discipline or Defense." Some strutted about shoeless and half naked, stealing helmets from their Hessian prisoners and wearing them like the drunk asshole at a party who puts a lampshade on his head.
Today, the site memorializes the event with this statue of male genitals.
The next day, Washington took his army and new prisoners back across the Delaware, explaining in a letter to Congress that his forces were too small and far away from supply lines to hold the river bank. He left out the part about the drunken animals under his command being too lit to even care about, much less defend against, imminent British retaliation. The evacuation was hampered by soldiers tumbling into the icy, pee-filled river, but eventually, Washington got his men to safety. He was, after all, the designated driver.
A Pilgrim Community Partied A Little Too Hard
The early Pilgrim colonies in Massachusetts basically proved H.L. Mencken's definition of Puritanism as "the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy." Daily life as a colonist was a joyless, miserable experience -- not unlike living in, or reading, The Scarlet Letter -- which didn't really appeal to most potential future settlers. The exceptions were the men of Merrymount, located in the modern Boston suburb of Quincy, whose colonial sales pitch was basically a sign saying "free beer!"
"And not shitty beer, neither. We haven't invented that yet!"
Merrymount's founder, Thomas Morton, had nothing but contempt for Puritan intolerance. He banned forced labor and invited all to come to Merrymount to live and trade as equals, a deal sweetened by the promise of endless barrels of "excellent" home-brewed beer. Morton also had a hippie-like admiration for the Algonquin Indians, whom he always invited to Merrymount's very regular keg parties, encouraging his sausagefest of a colony to slap Puritan sexual and racial taboos in the face by pounding brews with Indian bros and hooking up with Indian "lasses." Most offensive of all was Morton's 80-foot-long erection ... of a maypole upon Mount Wollaston; a visual "fuck you" that reminded the Plymouth colonists of the pagan-influenced "merry old England" customs and concepts of "having fun" they'd wanted to leave behind.
What's more, Merrymount soon became the lone colony that was growing and thriving. Their controversial "treating Indians like human beings" policies scored them all the best trade from Maine to Rhode Island, along with sweet hunting, fishing, and agricultural tips. This outraged the Puritans, who couldn't understand how Morton's den of sin and sex was receiving God's bounty, while their regimen of prayer, social repression, and self-denial earned them starvation. Eventually, the Pilgrims decided this misallocation of God's favor had to be fixed.
Using the "hand of God," if you will.
Miles Standish led an armed posse to invade Morton's colony, only to find that the guns were unnecessary. It was the morning after a typical Merrymount rager, and no one was sober enough to fight back. Morton was arrested and banished back to England, the maypole was chopped down, and the Pilgrims repurposed Merrymount's supplies as their own, praising God for blessing them with the bounty they stole.
Morton's nearly successful attempt to restore Merrymount and get the Pilgrims' royal charter revoked was thwarted by King Charles' own Puritan woes in the English Civil War. Merrymount now survives solely in the name of the neighborhood built upon its location, and a bitter short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Had the Puritans not been such literal killjoys, and if the Merrymounters had just laid off the bottle for one night, we might live today in a world in which The Scarlet Letter reads more like Van Wilder.
Replace the toga with a doublet and pantaloons, and the Tara Reid with anyone else.
But it's not only American history that was continually altered by drunken shenanigans ...
A Drunken Bout Of Vandalism Changes The History Of Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece gave birth to a lot of artistic traditions that have influenced art up to this day. One tradition that absolutely did not have lasting power were the "Hermae." These were statues that consisted of a block of marble, the top of which was carved into the depiction of a god's head, while down at crotch level was a lovingly carved, heroically erect, throbbing, veiny dick.
"Who's got one-and-a-half balls and divine powers? This guy!"
These dick statues were the pride of Greece back in the day, being stationed along the roads in and out of Athens; which, in a completely different culture, was in fact a positive advertisement for the city. But one night in 415 BC, a wave of vandalism spread through Athens. All of the Hermae statues had their dicks chiseled off, which was as offensive to the Athenians as it is hilarious to us.
Initially, Athenians wanted to blame their enemies the Spartans for the mutilation, but witnesses exposed the culprits as anonymous "drunken revelers." It was nothing more than some drunken dudebro dick-defacement. The Athenians, however, went dick-crazy, and launched a witch hunt for the knob-snatchers, eventually placing the blame on Alcibiades. One of Athens' best generals and statesmen (and Socrates' boy-lover), Alcibiades had accrued tons of insanely petty political enemies, along with the kind of reputation in which his name usually got paired with things like "drunk," and "disorderly," and "That is not a toilet!" The de-donging of deities frankly seemed like the sort of thing Alcibiades and his friends would do.
"Bullshit! The only penis we were defiling last night was my own."
Based on that unimpeachable evidence, Athens -- the birthplace of logic -- tried, convicted, and sentenced Alcibiades to death in absentia, and ordered the seasoned military leader to return home to serve his sentence right on the eve of their campaign against Sparta. Alcibiades chose another option: He defected to the Spartans and served as their "military adviser." Unsurprisingly, the Sicilian Expedition, and ultimately the rest of the war, was an unmitigated disaster for the Athenians.
Alcibiades, on the other hand, fled Sparta after sleeping with the king's wife, then served the Persians for a while before falling out of favor with them too, for unspecified reasons. And somehow, he still convinced Athens to take him back, all within a few years. Pretty smooth for the guy sentenced to death for divine dong-smashing, and who was made fun of by Plato for his long and uncomfortably detailed "I love you, man" speeches.
The Black Death Was Orgy Central
The people of 14th-century Europe had many different ways of coping with the Black Death. Some took the chance to grow closer to their families. Some returned to church to try to get right with God. But many gazed out across the blasted, decaying landscape, wiped away a tear, and calmly announced "Gentlemen, it is time for us to get drunk and fuck, to a degree hitherto unseen in human society."
Which explains why these folks all look like they died mid-"ring around the rosie-ing."
Part of the reason for this is that the sudden death of half the population had an interesting effect on the distribution of wealth. Peasants suddenly found themselves swimming in cash they inherited from their ten recently deceased uncles. And according to Boccaccio's Decameron, they usually conducted themselves with all the restraint and financial acumen of a meth-addicted lottery winner. Cities like Florence and Venice reported wild orgies held everywhere from the middle of the streets to churches. Even graveyards, like one in Avignon, became the sites of bacchanalia in which people drank, gambled, bowled, played party games, and, of course, had dirty peasant sex over the graves of the dead.
Whether in graves or in other holes, bones were getting buried.
The thing is that, before Europeans really had any idea what disease was or how it spread, nobody realized that they were making the problem much worse by constructing neighborhood-wide fuckpiles. But (then as well as now) drunken hookups turned out to be both the cause of and solution to Europe's problems. Nine months later, the population began to bounce back.
If there's one thing we know, it's that booze is mired in falsehoods and half-truths. For proof, look no further than The 5 Most Ridiculous Drinking Myths You Probably Believe and 6 Ridiculous Drinking Myths You Probably Believe.
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