The Shoemaker and the Tea Party The nickname “The Boston Tea Party” that refers to the rebellious actions of dumping tea into Boston harbor was actually given in a later time period. The original name that colonist described it as was “The Destruction of the Tea”. 1An important man named George Robert Twelves Hewes gives a personal recollection of his participation during the prerevolutionary war. Hewes was renounced a hero in his later years towards his hundredth birthday. He was the last know survivor of the massacre, a leader during the tea party, and a privateer.
Hewes’ story helps identify how ordinary men were treated in the American and their opinions of equality in the late eighteenth century. A revolution was necessary to impede the over taxation and discrimination of the colonist. The British passed many acts that would over tax the colonist causing many of the colonist to remain poor while the motherland benefitted substantially. British soldiers would also abuse their power upon the colonist and sometime find themselves hurting and even killing the colonist.
A change in George R. T Hewes was the result of British power abuse, his sense of citizenship and his ptimistic view of equality despite economic rankings. Most men in the eighteenth century were considered ordinary men. George Robert Twelves Hewes was considered an ordinary man because of his financial standpoint. Hewes was a shoemaker. Most shoe makers were generally poor during this era due to the simple craftsmanship. The reason why George was put into shoe making was because “No one in his family had the indenture fee to enable him to enter one of the more lucrative trades. 1 This was not the only thing that prevented Hewes from becoming anything but a shoe maker.
George was too small to enter trades that demanded brawn. “1Hewes eventually wanted to escape his life of shoe making through the military. However, Hewes did not fulfill the height requirements of the royal army. 1During the summer of 1768, four thousand British soldiers were stationed in the town where Hewes’ shop resided. Hewes claimed he knew how irritating it became to be challenged by British soldiers after curfew. 1The soldiers simple annoyance of curfew was not the only thing they had done to Hewes.
One soldiers in particular ordered shoes from Hewes. However, the oldier never paid for them. Hewes also says he witnessed a soldier “sneak up behind a woman, felled her with his fist, stripped her of her bonnet, cardinal muff and tippet. “1 It was clear to Hewes that the soldiers were abusive. The colonist must have also witnessed countless attacks similar to what Hewes recollected. Lethal violence was used by British associates and soldiers in unnecessary situations. The incident where eleven year old Christopher Seider was shot and killed by a paid customs informer for picketing a merchant that was violating the anti-import resolutions.
Hewes accounted for other actions that the British soldiers committed which would eventually lead up to the Boston massacre. A group of unarmed men which Hewes describes as “essentially defensive” challenged a group of British soldiers which were led by captain Preston of the British army. The soldiers opened fire on the crowd because some snow and sticks were thrown at the soldiers. 1 Hewes claims that he knew four out of the five men that were killed in the massacre that day on Kings Street. He also recalls that one of the men standing next to him was shot in the back.
Hewes aid that he helped carry this man to a doctor shortly after the dispersal of the crow that was being fired on. 1 Like a majority of the Bostonians, Hewes became militant after the massacre. He put down in his deposition that he went home to arm himself. Hewes also became more political after the massacre, he was one of ninety one Bostonians who gave a deposition for the prosecution of captain Preston captain Preston’s men. Hewes has now become involved because of a sense of kinship with ‘his townsman” in danger.
By testifying, he had become a citizen, and a political man. hese events would lead Hewes into more patriotic roles such as the destruction of the tea in Boston harbor and changing his opinion of his selfworth. Over taxation and violence by the British had eventually taken its toll on the Bostonians. Radical Whig leaders began to non-violently protest British rule. A plan was organized by the Whig leaders to dump imported tea into the Boston harbor. At this time Hewes becomes more than a simple volunteer. Hewes is appointed boatswain by the commander of the division to board the ship. Hewes was given orders to obtain the keys to the cargo and ithout damaging the ships and to throw the tea over board.
Hewes and his crew were successful in boarding the ship and executed the plan accordingly. Hewes claimed that John Hancock worked beside him. “Hewes in effect had brought down Hancock to his own level. ” John Hancock and George Hewes breaking open the same chest at the tea party remained a symbol of a moment of equality. 1The actions of the tea party made Hewes feel he was no different from any of the rich Whig leaders despite his economic position in the colonies. Not only does Hewes feel equal to his leaders but now he filled with atriotic pride.
Shortly after the tea party, George Hewes decides to go privateering for the rebel army. It is also possible that Hewes go privateering for a chance to become rich after pirating a ship. Although Hewes went on many voyages as a privateer, he never came across any riches. 1 George R. T Hewes walked away a different person after the destruction of the tea. His optimism created his own sense of equality with solid reasoning. George states that “I am as good as any man regardless of rank or wealth. “1 The ideology created the thought that poor men might be as good as rich men.
George had the same idea of independence as Samuel Adams and John Hancock but what actually sets them apart is how the revolution affected them each individually. “Georges experienced transformed him, giving him a sense of citizenship and personal worth. Adams and Hancock began with both; Hewes had to arrive there. “1 Since George feels that he is equal to every other man, this explains why he literally will not take his hat off for any man. Ordinary men such as George must have been discriminated against entirely to feel such obligation to think they are not equal richer men.
Hewes in a way can be a symbol of the ordinary man before and after the revolution. It is possible that the ordinary man had the same attitude about equality such as George R. T Hewes did. The revolution not only freed the colonist from British tyranny rule, but changed ordinary men’s opinions of freedom and equality. The colonist fell intolerable of British rule after much economic and physical abuse.. George R. T Hewes was regarded as “living history” when he gave his accounts of what happened during the revolution.
George’s story is vital for history purposes because he gives irsthand details on how life was growing up in the colonies as a poor man, as a protestor and as a patriot. Although Hewes did not gain any riches or instant popularity from being a patriot, he did gain liberty to think of himself as a better man. After fighting and protesting side by side with the Sons of liberty and other patriotic men, George Robert Twelves Hewes discovered that he is indeed equal to any man despite being a poor shoe maker. 1 George Hewes is a symbol for the ordinary man that existed and participated in the events during the revolution.