Continued from Tuesdays With Norwood: Taxation Without Representation – Part 1

By eliminating the tax of over 100 percent, the Company directors were sure to undersell the Dutch in America. The threepenny colonial tax seemed to them a silly issue–even a Dr. Johnson living in Charleston or Philadelphia and paying the maximum could trim his tea budget enormously. For the colonists, however, the issue remained the same: taxation without representation was illegal under the British Constitution. “They have no idea,” wrote another great tea lover of the time, Dr. Benjamin Franklin, “that any people can act from any other principle but that of interest; and they believe that threepence on a pound of tea, of which one does not perhaps drink ten pound in a year (!), is sufficient to overcome the patriotism of an American.” As a point at issue, it was silly–a saving to American tea drinkers and of no appreciable value to the British treasury. But as a cause, tea, “farfetched and dear bought,” assumed an enormous importance to both sides. And even thus, our harmless, necessary tea was dragged into the conflict, all for a projected annual income of a mere million dollars to the Crown.

Read next: Tuesdays With Norwood: Colonial Tea Parties – Part 1