Destroy the Tea For Liberty and Laws?

in about Warren


Author: Anonymous

Date: [late December 1773]



 “Rally Mohawks, and bring your axes
And tell King George we’ll pay no taxes
on his foreign tea;
His threats are vain, and vain to think
To force our girls and wives to drink
his vile Bohea!
Then rally, boys, and hasten on
To meet our chiefs at the Green Dragon!
Our Warren’s here, and bold Revere
With hands to do and words to cheer,
for liberty and laws;
Our country’s “braves” and firm defenders
shall ne’er be left by true North Enders
fighting freedom’s cause!
Then rally, boys, and hasten on
To meet our chiefs at the Green Dragon.”
Source: This poem or song lyrics are described as a celebratory street ditty sung on the streets of Boston in the immediate aftermath of the Destruction of the Tea on the evening of December 16, 1773. Modern authors such as David Hackett Fisher(1) cite Goss’ late 19th century biography of Paul Revere(2) as their reference for this.  Esther Forbes quotes it as a street ballad of the time, but does not list her primary source. I have seen snippets of it quoted in late 19th century texts, such as the Masonic Centennial Memorial of St. Andrew’s Lodge(3) and Drake’s Tea Leaves(4).  I do not recall Professor Ben Carp employing this quote in his recent definitive account of the Boston Tea Party(5).  Frothingham, the first book-length biographer of Joseph Warren, was neither aware of, nor included Warren “and bold Revere” in his encyclopedic 1865 book.
Commentary: For purposes of the new Warren biography, I accepted this song as contemporary to late December 1773.  Among other things, it appears to be a calling card of Warren’s otherwise cryptic participation in the Destruction of the Tea.  I am having second thoughts about its authenticity.
This song presumably is traceable to a late 1773 broadside or a participant’s recollection. I am yet to locate the specific primary source, but continue to pursue it. There are two reasons for my wanting to ‘trace this to ground.’   First, participants in the Destruction of the Tea went to great lengths to conceal their identities. It seems counter-intuitive that a presumed Boston publisher of this sympathetic song, such as Edes and Gill, would have identified “Our Warren’s here, and Bold Revere” in a celebratory song.  Second, identification of King George with the hated taxes would not have been politically correct in Patriot circles at that juncture.  Patriots toasted loyalty to the King while resisting measures of his misguided Tory ministers.  Is it possible that, despite citations by excellent historians, this is a 19th century production? Alternatively, could it be a street ballad of 1773, but recorded much later along with anachronistic interpolations?

[1]  Fischer, D. H. (1994). Paul Revere’s Ride. New York, Oxford University Press, pp. 24-25

[2]  Goss, Elbridge Henry. The Life of Colonel Paul Revere. 2 vols. Boston: Joseph George Cupples, 1891, pp. 123-124.

[3]  Palmer, E., H. Willis, et al. (1879). Centennial Memorial – The Lodge of St. Andrew and the Massachusetts Grand Lodge. Boston, Arthur W. Locke & Co., p. 170 “doggerel Tea Party poem: ‘Our Warren’s there, and bold Revere,

‘With hands to do and words to cheer

For Liberty and Laws!’”

[4]  Drake, F. S. (1884). Tea Leaves: Being a Collection of Letters and Documents Relating to the Shipment of Tea to the American Colonies in the Year 1773 by the East India Tea Company. Boston, A.O. Crane, p. 128 p. “Fragment of a rallying song of the Tea Party at the Green Dragon”

[5]  Carp, Benjamin J. Defiance of the Patriots – the Boston Tea Party & the Making of America. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010

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