One of the events, which I enjoy sharing as I teach America’s Christian history, is the Boston Tea Party, including the reasons and the events of that night. Why did those individuals resist by dumping the tea? One historian, Richard Frothingham, wrote this:
“The resistance contemplated was in general such action as might be necessary to thwart by lawful methods this ministerial measure. The idea had been grasped in America that there was a Constitution which limited the power of kings, lord, and commons. . . But political science had not devised the peaceable mode of obtaining redress in such cases in the manner suggested by Otis, – an idea embodied subsequently in the powers vested in the Supreme Court of the United States, and familiar to the American mind. This tribunal declares such legislation void. The only way then to defeat an odious scheme to collect an illegal tax was to follow the methods, as circumstances might dictate, of popular demonstration, which had long been customary in England, and thus render the law inapplicable. . . .” [emphasis added]
In 1773, the only means of redress was popular demonstration. In many countries around the world, this remains the only opportunity for seeking redress for unjust laws and tyranny. But America has a form of government which provides the legal means of redress, which does not require “popular demonstrations” to seek that redress. Do we fall into these activities because we are ignorant of our constitutional principles, impatient with those who we chose to represent us, or ignorant of the meaning of representative government?