Fist Of History

Louisiana Purchase – the Congressional Opposition

July 21st, 2014


In 1803 the United States got an amazing offer on a land deal, originally planning to offer $10 million to Napoleon for control of New Orleans and Florida (if the negotiators could get it) – if not they were to settle for just control over New Orleans and its amazingly valuable port.  The negotiations began in 1802 and Napoleon’s representative to the negotiations offered a counter-deal, if the United States was willing to pony up $15 million they could have the entire Louisiana Territory now technically controlled by France, a land deal that would roughly double the size of the United States and at a rate of only $0.03 per acre of newly acquired land.  The American commissioners – trying not to poop themselves with excitement – had a brief discussion about the fact the purchase exceeded their original mandated purchasing limit of $10 million but, as notifying Washington and getting approval would take several weeks, and the deal might vanish, they went ahead on their own authority and agreed to the deal.  A treaty was inked and it was sent to the United States government, two levels of Congressional approval were needed, the Senate needed to approve the treaty itself and the House of Representatives had to approve the funds to pay for the newly acquired vast tract of land.  The Senate ended up ratifying the treaty with only token opposition, because the deal was simply seen as incredible.  The House however proved a bit more difficult.


The House was divided between the two major political parties of the early 1800s, the Democratic-Republicans (the party of Thomas Jefferson, United States President) and the Federalists.  The Democratic-Republicans generally supported the idea of the purchase, although some had concerns about the constitutionality of the purchase as the Constitution did not approve the government explicitly buying a huge tract of land.  (Thomas Jefferson had run on the idea of a strict adherence to the Constitution and some of his supporters, such as John Randolph of Roanoke, opposed the purchase potentially on these grounds.)  Randolph, pictured above, ended up a key leader of the opposition to the Louisiana Purchase, an opposition based mainly upon the Federalist party not wanting the country expanded because it was feared that this new territory would:

  • Undermine the power of the Atlantic seaboard and New England states, Federalist strongholds, in the newly expanded United States
  • Expand the “slave power” of the south further west, undermining another delicate regional balance of power
  • Make the Democratic-Republicans look really cool and make it extra hard for the Federalists to win future elections

These conditions inspired the House to divide on the issue sharply, a special bill was put forward denying the funds to purchase the land but that bill was defeated by two votes, 59-57, meaning that the funds would be released and the land purchased.  (Mainly due to the fact, it was argued, the treaty obligated the United States to pay for the land and therefore the House would have to actively refuse to pay for it.)

There was also the technical problem that Napoleon, by a strict reading of the treaty between him and Spain, the original holders of the Louisiana Territory prior to France gaining administrative oversight on the territory (don’t ask, you really don’t want to know), Napoleon technically sort-of couldn’t sell the land.  But he wanted to and the United States apparently wanted it.  (Later Spain protested the sale on these same grounds and was told by the United States that life is full of sadness.  Also no backsies.)

The United States government did eventually gain the land and began to properly divide it up and many of the issues the Federalists feared did come to pass.  However should you ever feel your particular government is being difficult on an issue just remember, the United States Congress came within two votes of not doubling the country peacefully at rock-bottom prices not out of a fear they couldn’t pay for it, not out of a fear they couldn’t hold it, but because it would make one political party loose position compared to the other.

Sources:  Wikipedia entries on the Louisiana Purchase and John Randolph, the Monticello entry on the Louisiana Purchase, and two entries (here and here) from The Louisiana Purchase: A Historical and Geographical Encyclopedia


Old Cartoons and Ads

July 18th, 2014


Source:  Life Magazine, 1891


Source:  Life Magazine, 1901

Note – when I think of Extract of Beef I always think of Society Girls, it is a natural association


Source:  Life Magazine, 1893


Source:  Life Magazine, 1901

Note I like how they are using a pretty girl posing with a gun to sell an outdoors magazine, some things never change


Source:  Life Magazine, 1887

Note – “Galvano Electic” is a trendy brand-type name for galvanic electricity, i.e. electric current  (U.S. patent application 700783 as proof)


Source:  Life Magazine, 1883


Source:  Life Magazine, 1892

Note – I believe that is an engraving of President Garfield, assassinated in 1881 and a martyr for the nation.  It takes guts to use a martyred president to help hock your tea

Bonus Friday Entry – Panic of 1893 and note redemption

July 18th, 2014


One of the fascinating things about the Panic of 1893 is it was, in part, fueled by currency speculation, specifically individuals depositing silver with the United States Treasury, getting paper currency, and then demanding that paper currency be redeemed in gold.  (I talked about this in a previous Fist of History entry.)  What I discovered today though was that the currency notes issued by the Treasury (one example pictured above) allowed the Secretary of the Treasury to pay them in either gold or silver.  (These particular bills are known as the Treasury Notes of 1890.)  If you look closely at the larger image of the note you will see it says “in coin” on the bill – this was specifically because the Sherman Silver Purchase Act of 1890 allowed the Treasury that flexibility precisely to avoid these sorts of problems.  So the question this inspired in me was why did the federal government during the Panic of 1893 continue to issue gold when these notes were redeemed when it was obvious to anyone watching that the government was losing money on the proposition.


The answer, as it turns out, is unclear, the Secretary of the Treasury at the time was John G. Carlisle and by an account of the period he chose to continue honoring the notes in question in gold, despite rumors sweeping the financial world during the worst of the panic in March and April of 1893 that he might stop honoring the notes in gold.  A rumor also swept the street that millions of these notes had been redeemed in gold and that statutory limits on the minimum amount of gold on deposit in the Treasury might force Secretary Carlisle’s hand in this regard.  However in reviewing the actual Treasury reports I could find on the public debt and its redemption during this period you can see large numbers of the Treasury Notes of 1890 being redeemed by the Treasury, and no record of payments being ordered in silver, you also see a large number of a special earlier Gold Certificate of 1882 being redeemed as well during this period.  (In particular if you look at Secretary Carlisle’s end of year report to the Congress on the Treasury’s activities.)


The Gold Certificate of 1882 was the first issued to the public that entitled the bearer of the certificate to an amount of gold from the Treasury – prior to that a Gold Certificate was much closer to an actual certificate of deposit than a piece of currency, it listed the specific person who deposited the gold and the date, handwritten on the note, and only that person could present it to the Treasury in exchange for actual gold.  The Gold Certificate Series of 1888 and 1900 returned to this earlier model of “only the person who deposited the gold gets it back.”  After 1900 the Treasury went back to these bearer gold certificates, but my question then is – why?  It seems a reaction by the Treasury to some poorly documented aspect of the Panic of 1893 and there was a brisk trade in these certificates during the panic.

At this point we enter the realm of speculation but from a source I read during the Panic of 1893 one of the major issues was banks ceased to honor checks drawn on them – refusing to hand over currency for the check, and a brisk side business appeared of individual speculators who would give a business or wealthy individual cash for a check made payable to them, for an amount somewhat less in hard currency than the value of the check.  (For those curious that would be on par with today’s paycheck cashing services.)  So here is my theory – you are a wealthy individual in March or April 1893 and you are hearing wild rumors that your Treasury issued currency of 1890 might be paid in rapidly depreciating silver coins at any point.  You want to get your money out but if the timing is wrong you could lose a fortune.

But then some nice individual comes to you with those lovely bearer gold certificates you see above and offers to exchange them, at a slight premium of course, for your potentially less valuable Treasury Notes of 1890.  Yes you will lose some of the face value of those Treasury Notes but if the government suspends payment in gold you might lose a lot more.  The nice individual is willing to shoulder that risk because he thinks he’ll end up doing alright from the exchange.

Sadly I cannot find proof of such dealings but it does seem to fit the kind of sneaky opportunism that was a part of 19th century capitalism.

Source:  Wikipedia entries on the Treasury Notes of 1890, Sherman Silver Purchase Act, Gold Certificates, and John G. Carlisle, US Department of the Treasury history of Secretary John G. Carlisle, an article on the Panic of 1893 by Alexander Noyes written shortly after the event, Annual Report of the Secretary of the Treasury covering 1893, and Statements of the Public Debt from March, April, and November 1893.

Locarno Treaties and Rehabilitating Post World War I Gemany

July 16th, 2014


Gustav Stresemann (1878-1929) was probably one of the most influential German politicians shaping the new interwar face of Germany, Stresemann was almost solely responsible for transforming post-World War I Germany from an international pariah nation into one that was welcomed back into the “fold of nations” by the mid-1920s.  Stresemann for a brief period served as the Chancellor of Germany in 1923, but his real strength was working as Germany’s foreign minister from 1923 until his death in 1929.  Stresemann focused Germany’s post-war foreign policy on conditional acceptance of the Versailles Treaty of 1919, with an emphasis on lowering Germany’s level of payment on its war reparations to lower levels and normalizing Germany’s relationship with Western Europe in an effort to end the stigma Germany was operating under just after World War I.  This stigma, and second-class status, was best exemplified by the occupation of the German Ruhr by France between 1923 to 1925.  (For a failure by German to pay its war reparations on time, France occupied the Ruhr to forcibly seize payment in goods.)  After the same periods hyperinflation and economic dislocation in Germany Stresemann was focused mainly on getting Germany back to a position where it would be treated like any other European power and could focus on the more critical tasks ahead of it, rebuilding and stabilizing.

Locarno, Gustav Stresemann, Chamberlain, Briand

Negotiated in 1925 and signed in December of that year, the Locarno Treaties were a series of agreements between Germany, France, Belgium, Italy, and Great Britain in which Germany renounced any intention to modify its western border and renounced any claims to territories it formerly held in Western Europe that had been ceded under the Versailles Treaty of 1919.  This was considered a major breakthrough and paved the way for Germany to join the League of Nations in 1926, an organization originally founded in part to provide an international response to future aggression and war – basically although never stated an anti-German expansion international political body.  The Locarno Treaties also reaffirmed that in any border disputes with Czechoslovakia or Poland Germany would turn to an international tribunal to settle the issues rather than war.  France reaffirmed its defensive treaties with Czechoslovakia and Poland and a new era of peace in Europe was hailed, with Germany now being treaty as a partner in ensuring stability in Europe.


The dark side of the Locarno Treaties though was how Stresemann very carefully refused to include any mention of acceptance by Germany of its eastern borders as final – the shared borders with Czechoslovakia and Poland in particular, Stresemann was also careful to emphasize that there would be no “Eastern Locarno” while he was foreign minister.  The other signatories to the Locarno Treaties were, at least on the surface, understanding of Germany’s goal to adjust its eastern borders, as long as the adjustment was undertaken “properly.”  Until his death Stresemann focused his efforts upon maintaining good relations with Western Europe but also in working with the German government in anticipation of a re-alignment of Germany’s eastern borders.  This is particularly useful due to the fact that it shows the policies of Nazi Germany, although more extreme, were an extension of the framework of relations that had been laid by Stresemann, and Hitler’s plans to seize territory east of Germany and modify the terms of the Versailles Treaty in regards to Poland and Czechoslovakia have older ideological roots in German government.  (Probably Hitler’s most unique ambition in his initial foreign policy was his Anschluss with Austria in March 1938.

Many like to think that Hitler’s foreign policy ambitions sprang from his own odd mental process, however evidence indicates Hitler, with his ambitions to the east and his goals for renouncing the Versailles Treaty’s territorial shifts, has a foreign policy that is merely a faster implementation of plans already in place by his predecessors.

Sources:  Wikipedia articles on the Locarno Treaties, Gustav Stresemann, and the Occupation of the Ruhr.  Section from The Weimar Republic by Eberhard Kolb.

Vietnam War – River Patrol Boats and the Rung Sat

July 14th, 2014


During the Vietnam War one of the more challenging missions faced by the United States military was patrolling the vast interior river systems that dominated transportation and communication within Vietnam.  The United States Navy had a part in handling these patrols but along with the Navy the U.S. Coast Guard was heavily involved in such missions.  In some ways the river patrols were one of the most dangerous types of missions in Vietnam, most river patrols were conducted in a small craft the Navy referred to as a River Patrol Boat (pictured above.)  These lightly armed, unarmored, fast moving ships were designed to have a shallow draft and to be able to work in narrow rivers.  They had a pair of powerful high-speed engines and their goal, if they got in trouble, was to use their speed and maneuverability to get out of trouble.  Sometimes however that did not quite pan out as desired.


Meet Boatswain’s Mate First Class James E. Williams who was leading a two-boat river patrol in October 1966 in one of the most dangerous river systems in Vietnam, the Rung Sat.  The Rung Sat was a dense river system southeast of Saigon and a major center of Vietcong activity.  On his patrol Williams encountered a heavy patrol of regular North Vietnamese soldiers on boats, forty boats to be exact with a total of over 800 enemy soldiers.  Williams two ships had a total of two 50-caliber machine guns between them and a total of eight sailors, Williams decided the best plan was to launch an immediate attack on the surprised enemy and blazed through them firing wildly on all sides.  Both of his ships made it through the gauntlet and as he raced away Williams called for air support, attack helicopters followed up on his attack and further destroyed the disrupted enemy in his wake.  However Williams was not finished with his patrol of “Brown Pants Level Five” – even as he was escaping the first enemy force his two ships encountered a second enemy force, even larger this time, and still unaware of his approach.

Williams used the same tactic again to good effect and chopped through the second force relying upon speed and surprise to blast his way through the enemy forces massed against him, and once again he was successful, passing through a second major confrontation with no losses and minimal damage to his ship.  Williams trailed attack helicopters and, now, large numbers of U.S. aircraft as well.  After escaping this gauntlet, Williams was asked by one of the attacking pilots what his further intentions were in the combat.  Williams replied:  “I’m goin’ back through.”

That, by the way, is one way to win a Congressional Medal of Honor.

Sources:  Wikipedia entries on James E. Williams, River Patrol Boats, and Rung Sat Special Zone; The Vietnam War, A Graphic History by Dwight Jon Zimmerman & Wayne Vansant

Old Ads and Cartoons Friday

July 11th, 2014


Source:  Life Magazine, 1901

Note – yes I find it insufferably cute as well


Source:  Life Magazine, 1900

Note – Yes Lowney’s Bonbons, meeting all your chocolate carried by fat winged baby needs


Source:  Life Magazine, 1890


Source:  Life Magazine, 1893

Note – I have no idea why either and my research did not turn up an easy answer to this view of Chicago girls having huge feet


Source:  Life Magazine, 1896


Source:  Life Magazine, 1896

Note – I just love how majestic this ad seems


Source:  Life Magazine, 1890

Note – I’m really unsure what this means precisely.

The Year of Two Summer Olympics – 1984

July 9th, 2014


In 1980 in protest of the Soviet Unions 1979 invasion of Afghanistan, United States President Jimmy Carter declared a boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics, taking place in Moscow.  As protests go it wasn’t the most effective but the slight was remembered by the leadership of the Soviet Union, so in 1984 when the Summer Olympic games were to be held in Los Angeles the Soviet Union declared it would be boycotting these games.  The official reason given was concerns for the “safety of the Soviet athletes” in Los Angeles but most people considered it a simple response protest to the earlier U.S. boycott of the 1980 Olympic games.  Several other nations joined in the boycott, including:  Bulgaria, East Germany, Mongolia, Vietnam, Laos, Czechoslovakia, Afghanistan, Hungary, Poland, Cuba, South Yemen, North Korea, Ethiopia, and Angola.

Iran, Libya, and Albania also did not participate in the games but did not do so for the same stated reasons as the Soviet Union, Iran bowed out in protest of United States policies in the Middle East officially, for example.

For anyone who thinks that the Communist powers were a united bloc during the 1980s, Romania, Yugoslavia, the People’s Republic of the Congo, and the People’s Republic of Benin joined the game.  Another famous People’s Republic joined as well, China, but they did so in part to tweak the Soviet Union as the two nations were having one of their repeated ideological/political spats.


But the nations not participating in the 1984 Summer Olympics were not going to miss all the medal granting fun, and the Soviet Union spearheaded their own set of games, called the “Friendship Games.”  These ran for several months in 1984 and had events hosted by several different nations, the Friendship Games were carefully timed to (mostly) not conflict with Olympic events.   Oddly enough the United States and most other western nations actually sent athletic teams to compete in these games as well, often backup teams but a presence was maintained.

With two competing games in place both ideological blocs dominated their respective games, United States athletes did incredibly well in Los Angeles and Soviet athletes rocked the Friendship Games.


Oddly enough one advertising promotion caused a great deal more problems than originally expected due to these events.  McDonald’s in 1984 offered a major promotion, each time the United States won a gold medal, you would get a free Big Mac if you had an entry event card that matched the event won by the United States.  You got free fries with a silver and a free beverage with a bronze.  McDonald’s did not plan their numbers well but they really did not anticipate the Communist bloc athletes almost entirely not showing up and the United States crushing their opposition in many events that normally the U.S. didn’t win.

The total impact to McDonald’s bottom line is not know but there were rumors throughout 1984 during the games of McDonald’s running out of supplies.

Sources:  Wikipedia entries on 1984 Summer Olympics and the 1984 Friendship Games, New York Times article on the McDonald’s 1984 Olympic promotion and the boycott’s impact

War Production Board

July 7th, 2014


In the history of the United States probably one of the greatest periods of economic challenge was the switch from depressed economic productivity as the Great Depression drew to a close in the late 1930s and the shift to massive levels of wartime production to meet the needs of the combined Allied forces in World War II.  The most difficult issue was the allocation of strategically critical raw materials and the coordination of formerly civilian production to meet the war needs of the booming U.S. military.  The federal government, under Franklin Roosevelt, felt that allowing the market to sort out supply and demand could prove disastrous to meeting the production needs of the expanding military, so by an Executive Order the War Production Board was formed – a coordinating federal agency whose overall mandate was to put most of the United States economy under a form of central planning for the duration of World War II.


The major impact of this was the ending of much production of goods for civilian use, in particular high-end consumer goods such as automobiles had their production simply halted or severely curtailed for the duration of the war and the factories previously used for such civilian needs were shifted over to wartime production.  Overall the War Production Board was fairly effective in its goals – from 1942 to 1945 the United States produced over 40% of the total world production of all munitions, the other Allied nations, combined, produced only 30% of the total global munitions in the same period.


Civilian corporations continued to advertise even as they were focused solely or overwhelmingly on war production – with ads that emphasized their role in the war effort and used those production efforts to promote the quality, craftsmanship, and patriotism of their product lines.  Some companies entire production was refocused on serving military needs exclusively and they advertised to remind the civilian population of their products and promised their return after the war, often appealing to the patriotic role they were filling.


With the end of the war the function of the War Production Board came to an end and it was then rolled into a new federal economic oversight unit, the Civilian Production Administration, which was tasked with overseeing the shift from a wartime focused economy to one capable of meeting the economic needs of the civilian population.  There was strong federal concern that post-World War II the U.S. economy would re-enter depression conditions due to the collapsed federal demand for goods and services, although there was a brief economic slump from 1946 to 1948 the economy rapidly rebounded due to the pent up civilian demand for goods and services.


World War II is not the only time the United States federal government has considered intervening in the civilian economy to deal with emergency shortages of raw materials.  Another example were federal plans to ration gasoline on a national level in both 1973 and 1979 due to massive oil shortages as a result of political actions undertaken by OPEC.

Sources:  Wikipedia entry on the War Production Board and the Office of Price Controls, Executive Orders creating the War Production Board and the Civilian Production Administration.

Anthony Comstock and Obscenity

July 2nd, 2014


Sometimes even the most recent headlines can seem to be a repeat of older ideas returned to the top of public debate once more, in honor of the recent Hobby Lobby ruling I present to you the case of one Anthony Comstock (1844-1915) who was instrumental in the late 19th century American quest to squash the distribution of materials of an “obscene or lewd” nature with the goal of preserving the decency of the American public.  Specifically Comstock sought to find ways to enforce a proper spirit of morality on the public and these efforts focused on quashing pornographic materials being distributed through the United States Postal Service or across state lines.  For Comstock, one particularly critical form of vulgarity was the distribution of information on contraceptive practices and contraceptive devices through the U.S. mail.  The core text of the law is as follows:

“Be it enacted…. That whoever, within the District of Columbia or any of the Territories of the United States… shall sell… or shall offer to sell, or to lend, or to give away, or in any manner to exhibit, or shall otherwise publish or offer to publish in any manner, or shall have in his possession, for any such purpose or purposes, an obscene book, pamphlet, paper, writing, advertisement, circular, print, picture, drawing or other representation, figure, or image on or of paper or other material, or any cast instrument, or other article of an immoral nature, or any drug or medicine, or any article whatever, for the prevention of conception, or for causing unlawful abortion, or shall advertise the same for sale, or shall write or print, or cause to be written or printed, any card, circular, book, pamphlet, advertisement, or notice of any kind, stating when, where, how, or of whom, or by what means, any of the articles in this section…can be purchased or obtained, or shall manufacture, draw, or print, or in any wise make any of such articles, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and on conviction thereof in any court of the United States… he shall be imprisoned at hard labor in the penitentiary for not less than six months nor more than five years for each offense, or fined not less than one hundred dollars nor more than two thousand dollars, with costs of court.”

(In today’s money that minimum fine is around $2,000.)

As it was a federal law it only applied in the District of Columbia and the territories, however twenty-four additional states added versions of the Comstock law (out of thirty-eight total states) making the ban on distributing contraceptive devices prevalent throughout most of the United States.  The goal of this campaign was fairly explicit, to prevent “illicit” sex for pleasure with the idea of promoting public morality and curbing the spread of venereal disease.  The United States Postal Service also created a special position for Comstock, where as a Special Agent to the postal service Comstock had broad powers to prohibit items from circulation in the U.S. mail.  Apparently at the height of his control Comstock even prohibited anatomy textbooks from being mailed to medical students due to their “obscene” contents.

Comstock laws stayed in place well into the 20th century, Margaret Sanger made a point of attacking them in the early 20th century to break down the controls on mailing information on contraception, a mostly successful but lengthy effort, and in 1936 the U.S. federal courts finally ruled that contraceptives could be shipped through the mail.  (In the famous case of United States versus One Package of Japanese Pessaries - one of my favorite case names personally.)

Comstock in his career claimed the following statistics:

- The destruction of 15 tons of books

- The destruction of 284,000 pounds of plates for printing books

- The destruction of 4,000,000 images

- The arrest of 4,000 individuals

- 15 suicides due to prosecution by Comstock

Sources:  Wikipedia entries on Anthony Comstock and Comstock Laws, PBS American Experience on Comstock

Tax on Tea and American Revolution – Opinion

June 30th, 2014


So I saw this gem circulating on Facebook today and although most of it delves into a review of the current state of the United States, the initial comment is about the so-called “three percent tax on tea leading to the American Revolution.”  This is, to put it mildly, a gross over-simplification of the many different events and threads that lead to the American Revolution that began in 1775.  However the cornerstone point I’d like to express is that the American Revolution owes its roots, broadly, to three core concepts of which the tax on tea was merely a representative example of the broader problems.

The first was the lack of representation for the American colonies within the British Parliament, the British Parliament was controlled solely by representatives elected by the British population located in Great Britain, leaving the American colonies with the power to petition the British Parliament through their colonial governments.  Although actual power was semi-shared in a more complex arrangement between the colonial government and the British government, after the French and Indian War the British Parliament enacted taxes upon the colonies and stood firmly on the fundamental principle that it had the sole and exclusive right to tax the American colonies, directly, and could do so without the consent of the colonial governments.  Furthermore, although elements with the British government were open to discussion on taxes on the colonies, and many of the taxes were rescinded due to popular actions like boycotts, the British Parliament remained firm on its core principle that they could tax the American colonies directly and that the colonies had no direct say on the issue.

Second was restrictions on trade, the American colonies for many decades were technically prohibited from trading with nations other than Great Britain but effectively such regulations were loosely enforced at best.  This allowed American merchants to participate in a more connected system of global trade and pursue the greatest value possible for their goods between several competing European markets, in particular French and Spanish traders were a ready source of competing bids to the prices offered by British buyers.  After the French and Indian War though you saw a vastly increased level of enforcement of these regulations by collections officers – officers paid directly by the British government (technically the British Crown) – who were disconnected from any pressures by the Colonial governments.  This caused vast anger among the rising American merchant class and American producers of goods and raw materials for export, as with a forced monopoly of trade with only British merchants under-valued prices were the only option for American goods.  These undervalued prices were only offset by more covert smuggling, which continued, but the volume of trade with non-British buyers declined and the risk of such trade increased.

Finally, third, the period from 1774 to 1776 was a period of increased British crackdowns on the American colonies, mainly in response to popular uprisings, of which the tea dumping incident was but one example.  The British Parliament passed four Intolerable Acts:

The Massachusetts Government Act which changed the government of the colony, making all judicial and executive office appointments solely the purview of the royally appointed Governor of the colony and making it so that any town meetings could only occur with the Governors permission.

The Administration of Justice Act which restricted the trial of British soldiers to only occur in British courts in Great Britain

The Boston Port Act which closed Boston harbor till the full value of the tea was repaid – an act which destroyed Boston’s local economy and further messed with American trade as Boston harbor was one of the key harbors for shipping from the American colonies.  (Boston was also at this time a hub for cultural development and education in the colonies.)

The Quartering Act which required American colonial families to provide food and shelter for British soldiers – an act that also shoved British troops throughout the colonies as a dispersed force to maintain law and order.

I leave it to the readers to consider if the above actions are on par with what is being described in the image quote at the top of this post, however I do feel safe in asserting that it was more than just a tax on tea that helped spark the American Revolution.

Reference Source:  Wikipedia on the American Revolution