The Boston Tea Party of 1773 is known to every schoolchild, yet it recently found a new place in public debates after the rise of the Tea Party movement in 2009. This presentation explores the fractured nature of eighteenth-century politics, particularly in Revolutionary Boston. American reactions to the Boston Tea Party were mixed, and even Benjamin Franklin and George Washington expressed doubts about it. Some destroyers of the tea felt ashamed of their actions, and the phrase "Boston Tea Party" only became famous in the 1820s, fifty years after the event. Since then, generations of Americans have debated the meaning of the Tea Party and used it for their own purposes, from abolitionists to the Ku Klux Klan, from temperance advocates to tax protesters. Drawing connections between past and present, this presentation discusses how the appropriation of historical events can shape public debate.
Benjamin L. Carp is an Associate Professor of early American history at Tufts University. He is the author of Defiance of the Patriots: The Boston Tea Party and the Making of America, which won the Society of the Cincinnati Cox Book Prize in 2013; and Rebels Rising: Cities and the American Revolution. He has a B.A. from Yale University and a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia, and he previously taught at the University of Edinburgh. He has written for BBC History, Colonial Williamsburg, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post, and he has appeared on BBC1, C-SPAN2, C-SPAN3, and the Discovery Channel.
This event is free and open to the public.
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In 2013-2014, the Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere at the University of Florida has organized a nine-month speaker series that seeks to understand the dialogues (or lack thereof) about major issues that have gained political traction in the United States. These issues are as basic as the future of our planet, the price of minority discrimination, and how we construct and remember our collective history. This speaker series has two parts. The first semester will examine the fault lines that divide us, and the conditions that prevent reasoned dialogue. The second semester will generate discussions of how we might foster conditions that will bring us closer together, or at least help us to enter into broader dialogue about the human condition. This semester on “healing” these fractures will explore the future impact of digitization on the written word, the importance of solitude to personal transformation, and how academic scholars can productively frame controversial research topics.
This series of six lectures is co-sponsored by the Rothman Endowment at the Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences with co-sponsorship from the UF Libraries, Honors Program, Department of History, Department of English,Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Hyatt and Cici Brown Endowment for Florida Archaeology, Office of Research and the Office of Sustainability.
For an overview of the Civil Society Speakers series, click here.
Past lectures can be viewed online here.
Center for the Humanities
and the Public Sphere
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
200 Walker Hall
P.O. Box 118030
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL 32611