BBC, Dec. 16, 2023: How Britain’s taste for tea may have been a life saver

A Dec. 16, 2023 BBC article with the above-noted title is of interest:

An excerpt reads:

In a recent paper in the Review of Statistics and Economics, economist Francisca Antman of the University of Colorado, Boulder, makes a convincing case that the explosion of tea as an everyman’s drink in late 1700s England saved many lives. This would not have been because of any antioxidants or other substances inherent to the lauded leaf.

Instead, the simple practice of boiling water for tea, in an era before people understood that illness could be caused by water-borne pathogens, may have been enough to keep many from an early grave.

Click here for previous posts about the British empire >

Also of interest – a Dec. 15, 2023 BBC article is entitled: “Phillis Wheatley: The unsung Black poet who shaped the US.” An excerpt reads:

She is believed to be the first enslaved person and first African American to publish a book of poetry. She also forced the US to reckon with slavery’s hypocrisy.

When the Dartmouth sliced through the frigid waters of Boston Harbor on 28 November 1773, the Quaker-owned whaler carried a cargo that included 114 chests of British East India Company tea. Eighteen days later, the tea, along with 228 additional trunks from the soon-to-arrive Beaverand Eleanor, would play a starring role in the US Colonies’ most iconic act of resistance, which ultimately led to the Revolutionary War.

In the Dartmouth’s hold was another precious cargo: freshly printed copies of Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, a collection by Phillis Wheatley, the first enslaved person, first African American woman and third female in the US colonies to publish a book of poetry. Her life and work would become emblematic of the US struggle for freedom, a tale whose most visible representation – the Boston Tea Party, when American colonists protested Britain’s “taxation without representation” by dumping tea into the harbour – celebrates its 250th anniversary on 16 December this year.

Evan O’Brien, creative manager of the Boston Tea Party & Ships Museum, said, “Our mission, especially this year, is to talk not just about the individuals who were onboard the vessels, destroying the tea, but everyone who lived in Boston in 1773, including Phillis Wheatley.”

A Dec. 14, 2023 NPR article is entitled: “The Boston Tea Party at 250: History steeped in myth.”

An excerpt reads:

Now, on the Boston Tea Party’s 250th anniversary, O’Brien said it’s a good opportunity to look anew at what many consider the nation’s first peaceful protest and why it mattered — both then and today.

If we were sitting in London in 1773, thinking about the empire, Massachusetts would be last on our list of important places,” said Robert Allison, a historian at Suffolk University. “We would be thinking about Barbados, Jamaica, and most importantly, India.”

At the time, the British East India Company controlled trade out of India. But there was a problem: It was in debt and about to go belly up. To bail it out, the British parliament gave the company a monopoly over the American market to sell tea.

East India Company

In The Anarchy: The Relentless Rise of the East India Company (2019), William Dalrymple highlights (p. xxix) the connection between the East India Company and the American Revolution:

To the West it shipped Chinese tea to Massachusetts, where its dumping in Boston harbour triggered the American War of Independence. Indeed, one of the principal fears of the American Patriots in the run-up to the war was that Parliament would unleash the East India Company in the Americas to loot there as it had done in India. In November 1773, the Patriot John Dickinson described EIC [East India Company] tea as ‘accursed Trash’, and compared the potential future regime of the East India Company in America to being ‘devoured by Rats’. This ‘almost bankrupt Company’, he said, having been occupied in wreaking ‘the most unparalleled Barbarities, Extortions and Monopolies’ in Bengal, had now ‘cast their Eyes on America, as a new Theatre, whereon to exercise their Talents of Rapine, Oppression and Cruelty’. [4]

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