Part One - Prelude to Revolution
Sons of Liberty
It's a chilly early December afternoon in Boston in the Year of our Lord 1773. You have been visited by an old friend who is a member of the Sons of Liberty. Asa gave you the appropriate secret SOL password, sign and handshake. Not that he needed to. You have been close friends since your youth when you both served on John Hancock's smuggling ship named Tyrannicide. Then he placed the long awaited silver medal crafted by Paul Revere in your hand. It had a Liberty Tree and the words "Sons of Liberty" engraved on it. Asa had rushed in, on his way to alert other brothers, to urge you to attend a meeting at the Green Dragon Tavern to discuss a Tea Party to be held in honor of King George and Parliament. It's time to close up shop and kiss Harmony good-bye for the evening.
Green Dragon Tavern
After providing the password, signs and handshake to the guards at the Tavern in the basement, you are escorted upstairs where Asa, as the Sergeant at Arms, has you swear an oath of secrecy on the Holy Bible before entering the meeting hall. Sitting around several tables pushed together is a small group of key leaders headed by Sam Adams, Paul Revere, and Doctors Warren and Church. The table is covered with ample amounts of grog and bread. Sam is discussing the need to protect identities through a hierarchical structure of secret cells where each group would only know the name of their section commanders (the Chiefs). In a Ballad written shortly after the Tea Party only two patriots were named. Grab a mug of grog and sing along out loud.
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!1
At the end of the meeting, Asa comes around to collect money for the supper of grog and bread, the rental to be paid to the Tavern landlords (St. Andrews Masonic Lodge) and contributions to the cause of liberty and of course the upcoming party.
Here is an important question dear reader. What money was in our pockets to pay the Sergeant at Arms?
It wasn't pounds and shillings. Britain's mercantilism stupidly lead her to hoard her specie (gold and silver coins) and therefore there was very little of it available for commerce here in the colonies. This led us into all kinds of ill fated rag (paper) money experiments that inevitably lead to heady booms and painful busts. And if you did bring out shillings, you'd probably not see sunrise. It wasn't Old Tenor2 rag money notes because if you were smart you dumped those as soon as you got them.
It was dollars - Real Dollars. We had Spanish Milled Dollars (a.k.a., Pieces of Eight and Pillar Dollars) in our pockets and purses. Spanish Milled dollars are made of silver and mostly minted in Mexico City.
To say "Silver Dollars" in 1773 is to be redundant. The word "dollar" meant silver coin. Spanish Milled Dollars have a weight of 27.07 grams of 90.3% fine silver. Real silver money is not 99.9% pure! 99.9% coins cannot be used as money because they are too soft. 99.9% coins are for collectors not commerce. American coin metal silver is 90% pure silver and is ready to roll up its sleeves & go to work in commerce as money.
Got silver? Got coin metal silver money?
A New Patriotic Tradition
I'd like to propose a new patriotic holiday. Every December 15th, which would be Tea Party Eve, should be celebrated with a supper of grog and bread and discussions of Liberty. Root beer floats for the teetotalers amongst us. Is there anything more American than root beer and ice cream? The person hosting the supper should then be ceremoniously paid with one silver coin from each participant including and especially the kids. The grog should be made of a mix of Jamaican rum the likes of which John Hancock smuggled into Boston mixed and an American beer such as a Sam Adams brew. The bread should be stone ground whole grain and broken not sliced. Save the heel for me. And what ballad should be sung? The ballad could perhaps be followed by a reading of the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere. Now are there any suggestions as to how to celebrate the 16th of December?
Remember, Remember the 16th of December!
Stay tuned for next edition of The Silver Phoenix Rises from the Ashes of the Revolution.
Part Two will be "How a Quaker's Buried Treasure Saved the Revolution in 1776."
PS: There is a Spanish Milled Dollar that is over two hundred years old for the first person to identify Asa's last name. And there is another Spanish Milled Dollar for the first person to identify the Judas who was amongst the patriots named at the supper above. And, no I don't think he got 30 pieces of silver for his services to the crown.
1. Author unknown.
2. Old Tenors were paper money notes issued first by the State of Connecticut and then by the State of Massachusetts that were subject to substantial depreciation like all paper money.