"We . . . heartily join our Merchants and other worthy Citizens, in preventing this pestilential Commodity [tea], from being parbuckled on Shore"Revolutionary War Printed Broadside: "Tom Bowline . . . A Letter". One page, 6.5" x 4", Port of New York, December 20, 1773. "Tom Bowline", the pseudonym representing all sailors, writes this provoking broadside letter to "his worthy Messmates, the renowned Sons of Neptune, belonging to the Port of New-York." The broadside was issued in response to ships ladened with tea belonging to the East India Company and heading to colonial harbors (one ship was headed to each harbor in New York, Charleston, and Philadelphia, while four were headed to Boston).
The letter reads, "My dear Boys, As the Time is approaching, in which the Ship with the East-India Company's Tea, may be expected to arrive, and be moored in our Harbour, to put the finishing Stroke to our Liberties, and ruin the Trade of our Country, by establishing a Monopoly; which will in Time (should it be effected) deprive Numbers of our worthy Merchants of their Sheet-Anchor, and oblige them to quit their Moorings, and steer into the Country to take a Trick at the Plough; and will (as sure as the Devil's in London) drive many of us to the cruel Alternative of seeking Employment in a foreign Country, to prevent starving in our own; - and as much depends upon our Steadiness, and Activity, in Regard to weathering this Storm; I must therefore, strongly recommend the Necessity of keeping a good Look-out; and that we do, one and all, hold ourselves in Readiness, and heartily join our Merchants and other worthy Citizens, in preventing this pestilential Commodity, from being parbuckled on Shore. I am, my Hearts of Oak, Your Friend and Messmate, TOM BOWLINE".
The anger in the broadside was directed at the British Parliament, rather than the East India Company, for passing the Tea Act seven months earlier. The act gave the East India Company a monopoly over the tea market in the colonies, mainly by allowing the company to sell directly to the American colonies for the first time. By doing that, rather than selling through British middlemen, the company was able to offer lower prices which undercut the prices of the smuggled Dutch tea that American merchants were selling. That Dutch tea had dominated the New York market. The East India Company's tea threatened the business prospects of the colonial merchants, which is why this broadside emphasizes the doomsday predictions about what might happen to those merchants. By the time this broadside was printed, Boston's Sons of Liberty had already celebrated their Tea Party on December 16. In New York, the British tea ships were never unloaded and were eventually forced back to Britain. The result of these events was a hardened resolve on both sides of the Atlantic against the other. This toned broadside has a decorative border. With separations at folds, tattered edges, and dampstaining; laid down on cardboard (8" x 5"). A previous collector has written in pencil on a slip of paper taped to the verso, "Mrs. Grace Bartels descended from General Lamb Paid $10 for this May 1940. . . ."
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