Return of the prodigal

Posted by Tory Historian Thursday, December 17, 2009 , ,

Tory Historian has been a tad busy but has now returned with a few interesting dates to be celebrated or, at least, remembered this week. (Tory Historian also vows to keep this blog up to scratch in the coming year and, indeed, to introduce a few novel ideas, painful though that might be.)

December 16 is an important date in the history of the Anglosphere. The Americans mostly remember a certain event in 1773 when a number of colonists improbably disguised as Mohawk Indians boarded British ships, opened the chests of tea and threw the contents into Boston harbour. Their main complaint was that tax raised on the tea trade and taxation in general. Sad to say, by the time the American War of Independence, or the Third English Rebellion was over, those who remained, the loyalists having made their way to Canada or back to England, found themselves paying more in tax than ever before. Here are some eyewitness accounts, probably somewhat over-excited by the events and here is Walter Russell Mead on the relevance of those tea-parties to present-day United States.

Mead also mentions the really important event of December 16 (though it is hard to work out from his account whether this was the old calendar or the new) - the passing of the English Bill of Rights, which ought to be the cornerstone of the British Constitution (together with such constitutional legislation as the 1701 Act of Settlement and the 1707 Act of Union as well as numerous electoral reforms and, not to be forgotten, the 1679 Habeas Corpus). Sadly, things have changed but, Tory Historian is sure, those constitutional settlements will triumph over arrogant power once again.

December 15, 1791 saw the United States Bill of Rights become the first ten amendments to the US Constitution. Based largely on the English Bill of Rights, its provisions are still part of that estimable document, despite many attempts to undermine them.

December 17, 1778 saw the birth of Sir Humphrey Davy, inventor of the safety lamp for miners, who also discovered sodium, magnesium, calcium, barium and strontium, one of the finest of England's scientists and inventors whose influence on developments in the world was incalculable.

But let us end on a more ambivalent note: on December 18, 1946 Attlee's government won the vote (unsurprisingly, given the huge Labour majority after the 1945 election) that allowed them to nationalize just about every part of British industry. A defeat for the Anglosphere? Only temporarily.

1 Responses to Return of the prodigal

  1. I love the comment about the Boston Tea Party in Mary Poppins: "this made the tea undrinkable - even for Americans!"

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