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Regulators, Tea Partiers, and Populists


Lately there have been a series of very public gaffes by several of the candidates for the Republican presidential nomination, exposing alarming deficits in their knowledge of U.S. historical events. And, there has been some confusion about the significance of the 1773 Tea Party. In an effort to try to sort out the real history and avoid future stumbles regarding historical facts, let's revisit tea history, the causes of the Tea Party of 1773, real populists in the revolutionary era, and then jump forward to the 21st century tea partiers and Wall Street populists.

A Little Bit of Tea History

1600 - Queen Elizabeth granted permission for the charter of the British East India Company (1600-1858), on December 31, 1600 to establish trade routes, ports, and trading relationships with the Far East, Southeast Asia, and India. Trade in spices was its original focus, and trade in tea didn't begin until the late 1670s.

1662 - King Charles II (1630-1685) while in exile in the Netherlands, married the Portuguese Infanta Catherine de Braganza (1638-1705). Catherine's dowry was the largest in world history. Portugal gave England two million golden crusados, Tangier and Morocco in North Africa, Bombay in India, and also permission for the British to use all the Portuguese colonial ports in Africa, Asia and the Americas.

Both Charles and his Portuguese bride were confirmed tea drinkers. When the monarchy was re-established, they brought the tea tradition to England with them. Thereafter, tea mania spread across England.

The East India Company was highly favored by Charles II. Charles confirmed and extended its monopoly, to give the Company unprecedented powers to occupy by military force places with which they wished to trade (so long as the people there were not Christians). 1

The Boston Tea Party

Popular history teaches that the Tea Act of 1773 was supposedly inflammatory to New England radical colonists. What is not commonly known is that it actually lowered tea prices.

The Tea Act of 1773 followed several other English parliamentary maneuvers and skirmishes that restricted or taxed the colonists. England asserted that it needed to pass tax laws to restock its treasury after the French and Indian War, and to quarter troops in cities in private houses to cut costs in the protection of the colonies.

These laws and pivotal events included: the proclamation of 1763 (which forbade English colonists to live west of the Appalachian Mountains-even though many already did), The Sugar and Molasses Act in 1764 (which imposed taxes on sugar products), The Stamp Act in 1765 (which imposed taxes on any paper requiring a stamp-including magazines and newspapers), the Quartering Act of 1765 (which forced colonists to provide housing and food for British soldiers), and the Boston Massacre in 1770, in which five colonial civilians were killed in protests against the two year long occupation of Boston.

Those colonists, who formed the Committees of Correspondence and the Sons of Liberty, were afraid colonists might accept the lower tea taxes, which would put some of the founding fathers out of the business of buying tea from Denmark and selling it in the colonies. This was labeled tea smuggling by the British, and "smart business" by the colonial shippers.

Throughout the colonies "tea parties" were held where men turned back ships or boarded them and tossed packaged tea into the harbor. The largest in terms of tea dumped into the sea and the number of men participating was in Boston.

Northern radicals like John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and Marinus Willet fanned the flames of rebellion. Adams was the leader of the Sons of Liberty in Massachusetts and Willet led the New York group. While Americans fought for liberty, some of the founding fathers may have had a slightly different "Liberty" in mind. John Hancock ran one of the largest shipping companies in the colonies and was one of the richest colonial citizens. Many historians have argued that Hancock was a smuggler as well as an influential and wealthy shipper, but he was never convicted. John Hancock's sloop, the Liberty, was seized by custom officials on June 10, 1768, and Hancock was accused of smuggling. Other ships in Hancock's shipping fleet were also boarded and seized by British troops and officials searching for smuggled wine, spices, and tea.

In 1767, the Townshend Act, which included a tax on tea, was passed, and by 1773 it was a fixture of the colonial tea trade. The tax on tea under this act was actually higher in England than in the American colonies.

By 1769, importers like Hancock reduced the amount of tea purchased in the colonies from the East India Company from 320,000 pounds to 520 pounds. By 1772, the East India Company had 18 million pounds of unsold tea in warehouses and 1.3 million pounds sterling of debt. Its largest creditor, the Bank of England, refused further credit. 2

By the middle of 1773, the East India Company was lobbying Parliament for some help to deal with their surplus tea stock. They needed a bailout! To save the company (which was too big to fail), and undercut the smugglers, Britain passed the 1773 Tea Act, which allowed the Company to pay the colonial taxes in England instead of collecting them in port and also provided a subsidy for tea shipments to the colonies. As a result, colonists actually got a net decrease in taxes on tea from the 1773 Tea Act.

This was actually a win for the colonists, since the price they paid for tea dropped. But this was not good news to the shipping companies.  Shippers found that the lowered tax enabled colonists to buy East India Company tea at lower prices than they were charging. What to do?

Protesting against lower taxes was not an option because no one wants to protest that. So, the shippers (the early tea partiers) focused on representation in Parliament. "No taxation without representation" became the rallying cry for the movement. The tea merchants of the colonies and the Sons of Liberty used the issue of representation in Parliament to stir up sympathy to their cause of protesting a 6 year old tea tax, which had just been lowered.

English parliamentary representatives argued that the colonials had as much representation as most of the population of England. While true, this didn't amount to much representation for the majority of the population in Britain or in the colonies.

In England, at the time, Parliament was composed of voted-in members. But, only about 3% of British citizens (those with property and title) were allowed to vote. The other 97% of British subjects, colonists included, had what was called "virtual representation" in Parliament, but no vote.  

At a meeting that Samuel Adams (also accused by the British of being a smuggler) was holding near the Boston docks on the night of the Boston Tea Party, many men left the meeting early. Historians have argued that these same men dressed up as Mohawk natives and boarded the tea ships. They then dumped all the tea in the water and stopped locals from grabbing packages of tea out of the water for use or sale.  

Samuel Adams used this incident to begin a long series of propaganda pieces, which depicted the tea partiers as patriotic heroes who were standing up against an unjust government. That left us with the dominant American myth that patriots struck a blow against Big Government and excessive taxes by staging the Boston Tea Party.

But, in reality, wealthy shippers and smugglers, acting under the guise of populism, struck a blow against their British competition, staged the Boston tea party, fought off locals who wanted to share in the booty, and ensured that their tea profits weren't affected by the lowered tea tax. 3

So, if the wealthy shippers (some of the founding fathers) were not the populists of the period, who were the populists?

18th Century Populist/Regulators

While taxation without representation was a major and convenient rallying call against the British, it didn't survive the revolution. After the revolution, only those who owned a significant amount of land and slaves were allowed to vote.  So, most of the population still only enjoyed "virtual representation" in the new American Republic (even after they had fought in the revolution), and those allowed to vote were hardly populists. They were wealthy land, business, and slave owners (less than 5% of the population). That is not to say that certain founding fathers and others with a vote were not sympathetic to populist causes, some were, most were not!

Both before and after the revolution, however, there were many populist revolts, called "regulator revolts" directed against the excesses of the aristocracy, monopolistic corporations, like the East India Company, and bureaucrats. In English common law, revolts against the Crown, aristocrats and bureaucrats were legitimate forms of protest that began with the limited success of the Magna Carta revolts of the landed gentry against the crown in 1215.

Anglo American government policy in the 18th Century evolved from these earlier struggles to a place where governments were dependent on the consent of the citizens. People gave up some of their liberties and authority to the government, which in turn was obliged to use its power for the public good. When bureaucrats and the aristocracy betrayed this trust and did not act to further the public's well being, the citizenry had a right, and a duty, to resist, and demand regulation.

Such resistance was not considered to be rebellious, since government officials who oppressed the people forfeited their power back to the people. Central to this compact was Theodore Beza's argument that it was the right of a Christian to revolt against a tyrannical King, aristocrat, or the King's bureaucrat who were oppressing the commoners (Beza was Calvin's biographer, and defender). Beza's and Calvin's writings were widely read in the colonies and greatly shaped the moral foundation of the American colonists' regulatory fervor. 4

The North Carolina Regulator Revolts began in the 1760s. These revolts revolved around the issue of corrupt tax collectors, corrupt bureaucrats, and excess spending by and coddling of the aristocrats. For example, Edmund Fanning who was the leader of the opposition to the regulators in North Carolina was found guilty of embezzling the colony's money (along with Francis Nash) but they were fined only one cent per charge.

Such fake justice inflamed the regulators and caused many revolts well before the Revolution in 1776, including the sacking and burning of Jamestown, the North Carolina capital.  In an effort to curb the protests, North Carolina legislator Samuel Johnston (who later became Governor) introduced the Riot Bill, and by January 10, 1771, both houses of the Assembly eventually approved it, Governor Tryon signed it, and legitimized An Act for Preventing Tumultuous and Riotous Assemblies, and for the More Speedy and Effectually Punishing the Rioters, and for Restoring and Preserving the Public Peace of This Province. The Johnston Riot Act helped foster a change in attitude among the aristocracy that equated resistance to government corruption with insurrection.

The act allowed for the establishment of emergency courts and declared rioters, who remained at large for 60 days, to be outlaws. Once rioters were declared outlaws, officials seized and sold their property and hunted down the outlaws. The law was applied retroactively and made participants in previous riots subject to the act. 5 Instead of curbing Regulator protest, the law had the opposite effect. But, in spite of their resistance the regulators were finally defeated, seven were hanged and many farms were either confiscated or burned.

The North Carolina regulator rebellion reveals just how sharply elite and popular notions of independence differed on the eve of the Revolution. The Regulators saw themselves not as enemies of government but as its true defenders. They tried to obtain redress by legal and peaceful means. They asked local aristocrats and government bureaucrats to open their books and show people how their taxes were spent (or misused). They petitioned the governor and the state assembly for help and they attempted to get convictions against corrupt officials in North Carolina's courts. Instead, they discovered that the aristocratic and bureaucratic leadership was corrupt and did not regard the small farmer's protests as legitimate.

The stonewalling of legal and peaceful attempts at social and political change frustrated the petitioners and significantly increased popular support for the Regulator cause. This early populist revolt was a serious threat to the dominant class (including many of the founding fathers) well before the revolution began against England.

After the war, regulator revolts against excesses of the aristocrats and bureaucrats continued, with the most notable being Shays' Rebellion and the Whiskey Rebellion.

Shays' rebellion began in Massachusetts shortly after the end of the Revolution. At that time, the Massachusetts economy was in bad shape. Incredible personal sacrifice had been expended in the war to gain independence. Most of the soldiers who had served their country in the war returned home penniless. Continental paper money issued to pay continental debts had become worthless, and the public credit was destroyed.  Massachusetts, and every town, was deeply in debt. Script that had been issued to revolutionary soldiers was devalued to about 1/10th of its value. After most desperate soldiers had sold their script to speculators, the state legislature (under pressure from the speculators) increased the script to near its original value. The fond hopes of the revolutionary fighters had not been realized. Instead they were ripped-off, and most colonists were in a worse state of affairs than before the revolution.

Coastal merchants, who no longer had markets in England (their largest pre-revolutionary customer) and under pressure from European creditors, began demanding payment of debts in silver and gold (specie) from inland merchants, both of which were scarce, if available at all. Contracts between individuals, also had to be paid with silver or its equivalent. Farmers who had traditionally paid many of their debts in produce, now were unable to pay because the merchants had no market into which they could sell bartered products. Many rural inhabitants (including those who had served in the Revolutionary militias just a few years before) soon found their property seized and ended up in debtors' prisons.

The people peacefully petitioned, agitated for reform and a bailout or at least temporary relief from their debt burden. Then, in1786, western Massachusetts towns from Worcester (45 miles from Boston) to the Berkshires finally resorted to armed resistance under the leadership of Capt. Daniel Shays. They shut down several of the debtors' courts (Courts of Common Pleas) across the Commonwealth in an attempt to stop the courts from seizing property and jailing honest citizens. These rebels, just as in the Carolinas were upstanding citizens, frequently pillars of their community. Emily Dickinson's ancestors were upstanding citizens and were among Shays' rebels from western Massachusetts.

Urged on by Boston area aristocrats, Washington and Hamilton decided to call 3,000 Revolutionary troops back in to service to put down Shays' Rebellion. But, only a few hundred responded to the call for active service against their former soldiers in arms. In frustration, the federal government, with the financial aid from wealthy Boston speculators, hired 5,000 mercenaries to march against Shays' rebels. The mercenaries were successful in defeating the rebels and dispersing the main agitators. Many left the state and settled in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, or moved west.

Though public sympathy for the rebels was high, Shays' rebellion convinced many aristocrats and bureaucrats that a strong central government was needed. Following the revolt, the Federalist Party promoted the adoption of the Constitution, a strong central government, a standing army, and a federal bank. Shays' rebellion definitely frightened the wealthy and contributed to the adoption of the Constitution soon after its defeat. 6 And, as we shall see, the existence of a standing army and a central bank to fund it led to the defeat of another frontier rebellion in the 1790s.

The following quotes are from two of the founding fathers, and illustrates the difference between those who supported the wealthy and those who supported the populists who had fought along side of Shays.

Two quotes from Thomas Jefferson on Shays' Rebellion, 1787:

"What country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? "

"A little rebellion now and then is a good thing. It is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government. God forbid that we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion."

Quote from Samuel Adams on Shays' Rebellion:

"Rebellion against a king may be pardoned or lightly punished, but the man who dares to rebel against the laws of a republic ought to suffer death. "

In the 1790s, rebellion spread to many states to the south of Massachussets. The most famous and pivotal was the Whiskey Rebellion. The official view of the Whiskey Rebellion is that four counties of western Pennsylvania refused to pay an excise tax on whiskey that had been levied by a proposal of the Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton in 1791, as part of his excise tax solution to pay for public debts from the war.

Western Pennsylvanians failed to pay the tax, this view says, until protests, demonstrations, and some roughing up of tax collectors in western Pennsylvania caused President Washington to call up a 15,000-man army in the summer and fall of 1794 to suppress the insurrection. A localized but dramatic challenge to federal tax-levying authority had been met and defeated. The forces of federal law and order were safe.

This official myth turns out to be mostly wrong, similar to the Tea Party myth. Alexander Hamilton did devise a plan to raise taxes from whiskey production to help pay for the Revolutionary War. But, in Hamilton's program, the tax bore much more heavily on the smaller distilleries and the smaller farmers. Sound familiar? As a result, many large distilleries supported the tax as a means of crippling their competitors, and it was owners and employees of the larger distilleries who often were the tax collectors. The small-scale producers were assessed a tax of 25%.  

Beyond the inequity in the whiskey tax, there was a deep historical hatred by colonials and their British relatives for what was called "internal taxation" (in contrast to tariffs, which are "external taxes"). Internal taxes meant that the taxman, who everyone hated, would be on your property, searching for whiskey production, and examining your records and your life.

Internal (excise) taxes in Britain, particularly, taxes on cider, had provoked riots and demonstrations, and the slogan: "liberty, property, and no excise!" To most newly liberated Americans, the federal government's assumption of the power to impose excise taxes did not look very different from the British excise taxes.

The main distortion of the official myth of the Whiskey Rebellion was its alleged confinement to four counties of western Pennsylvania. From recent research, we now know that no one paid the tax on whiskey throughout the American "back-country": that is, the frontier areas of Maryland, Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, and the entire state of Kentucky.

President Washington and Secretary Hamilton chose to make a fuss about Western Pennsylvania precisely because in that region there was a cadre of wealthy officials (distillers) who were willing to collect taxes. There was no fuss or violence against tax collectors in Kentucky and the rest of the frontier because there was no one willing to be a tax collector.

The whiskey tax was particularly hated in the backcountry because whisky production and distilling were widespread; whiskey was not only a home product for most farmers, it was often used as money, as a medium of exchange for transactions. And, most importantly, it was a way to convert corn to whiskey, which was cheaper to ship to the large urban distillers and urban markets than the bulk grain.

Western Pennsylvania, then, was only the tip of the iceberg. But it was a big tip. It had great soils and high production on lands that small farmers had cleared, and was a big whiskey producing region. This frontier that we are talking about is now Pittsburgh, so it was well within striking distance from the major military forts near Philadelphia. The point is that, in all the other back-country areas, the whiskey tax was never paid. Opposition to the federal excise tax program was one of the causes of the emerging Democrat-Republican Party, and of the Jeffersonian "Revolution" of 1800. Indeed, Jefferson repealed the entire Federalist excise tax program, which was weighted against the small land-owner.

Rather than the whiskey tax rebellion being localized and swiftly put down, the true story turns out to be very different. The entire American frontier was gripped by a non-violent, civil disobedient refusal to pay the hated tax on whiskey. Farmers were still recovering from the Revolution, and literally were unable to pay exorbitant taxes on whiskey, their main medium of commerce. In most frontier areas local juries could not be found to convict tax delinquents. Instead of being confined to four western Pennsylvania counties, the Whiskey Rebellion was actually widespread and successful, for it eventually forced the federal government to repeal the unequally imposed excise tax.

Washington, Hamilton, and the Cabinet covered up the extent of the revolution because they didn't want to advertise the extent of the legitimate revolt all along the frontier (50 to 75 miles to the west). Just the opposite, they wanted to use overwhelming force (more troops than fought against the British) for a victory against the easiest target to get to. They took down the tax resisters in western Pennsylvania to send a message that the federal government would act with overwhelming force against rebels. And then they declared victory!

They knew very well that if they tried to enforce, or send an army into the rest of the frontier, they would have failed. Many historians feel that Kentucky and perhaps the Carolinas would have seceded from the Union if they had been attacked.

The Whiskey Rebellion is historically pivotal in the push to assert federal control. It illustrated to a war weary country that the wealthy and powerful were in charge, controlled the army, and were willing to kill civilians who were trying to assert their rights, just as they did to the Shays' Rebels immediately after the revolution and the Carolina Regulators before the revolution. 7

So, even though the battle cry of the revolution was "Home Rule", the real issue after the revolution was: "Who will rule at home?" Shays' Rebellion and The Whiskey Rebellion settled all that! The aristocrats were still in power, and ruling at home, much the same way they did when the British were in power.

21st Century Populists: "Tea Partiers" and "99%ers"

Fast forward to the Twenty-First Century Tea Partiers and Regulators.

Sadly, the monied crowd still rules the roost in American politics. As in the 18th Century, when populists were killed, jailed, or exiled and their property confiscated for opposing the aristocracy, much the same is true today. Those currently opposing Wall Street and the corporate aristocracy are being treated like criminals.

Like the tea parties of the 18th Century, the current Tea Party is a corporate funded revolt. The Koch brothers, Exxon-Mobil, the DeVoss family and other right-wing corporate protectors have invested millions of dollars and endless air-time on radio and TV in creating this powerful, supposedly grass roots movement. Obviously, it is not grass roots. Instead, it is "grass-tips". Tea party teach-ins were funded by the rich at the top, not spontaneously generated from locally aggrieved grass roots communities. 90% of Tea Party members voted for McCain and are affluent whites. Even when Tea Partiers spat on congress members, they were not treated like criminals.

While there were justifiable grievances against the British bureaucracy and their tax policies, tea was clearly not a central grievance. Similarly, opposition to taxing the rich is not a central grievance today; in fact a large majority of U.S. citizens feel that taxes on the wealthy and the corporations should be higher, tax loopholes closed, wars ended, the military reduced in size, and corporations stripped of their personhood.

Certainly there are justifiable grievances that the Tea Partiers expound today. Yes, government is too big, and a huge part of its bigness is military (which many of the 21st Century Tea Partiers wanted to downsize in 2010), and tax subsidies and loopholes to protect the corporations and rip off the public need to end. Yes, tax policy needs to change, but the most urgent changes should address the public's desires and focus on closing the tax loopholes and giveaways that enable corporations to evade taxes and receive rebates after paying NO U.S. taxes. Most of the U.S. public favors higher taxes on the wealthy not on lowering the taxes for millionaires, billionaires, and multinational corporations.

The right-wing talking heads continuously rail against efforts to raise taxes on the wealthy by citing the statistic that only 53% of the population pays income tax. This is a bogus smokescreen to protect the 1%. Everyone who has a job pays payroll taxes and income taxes. So, everyone except the 16% of the people who are really unemployed (and the investor class) pay income taxes. That means about 84% of the U.S. population is paying income taxes, not 53%. The claim that 47% of the population doesn't pay income taxes means that either individuals paid enough payroll and income taxes, had enough expenses or deductions during the year to offset taxes on April 15th, or that they didn't make enough to pay income taxes.

Many very rich Americans do not get a payroll check, so they pay no income taxes. Instead they are in the investor class, whose income is derived from capital gains on investments. Capital gains are only taxed at 15%. So these rich folks' tax rates are 10% less than someone making $50,000, even if the wealthy investor makes $50,000,000 in capital gains. And the capital gains crowd pays 20% lower taxes than a person with a job whose salary is over $250,000 and pays payroll taxes of 35%.

Like the tea party tax revolt in 1773, central tenets of the current "Tea Party" revolt are based on myths. The confusion over who pays taxes and how much is just one of their misconceptions. But the ironic parallels don't end there. The tea party rebels in 1773 were acting against their own interests. Today's tea partiers are also acting against their own interests. This year, they are lobbying for a larger, not reduced, military (and its enormous tax liability), they argue against regulations designed to stop corporations from evading taxes and polluting, and they refuse to advocate for increasing taxes on the very wealthy.  Most Tea Partiers, even though affluent, are part of the 99% of the population that is being victimized by the 1% who control most of the wealth.

The 18th Century regulators (North Carolina, Shays, and Whiskey rebels) were railing against unequal taxes and slap the hand penalties on wealthy criminals. And what about the populist regulators of today? After the crash of 2008, populists were calling for regulation of the banks, mortgage corporations, and Wall Street - and prosecution of the thieves. After BP's Gulf oil spill, populists were calling for the regulation of the oil industry and prosecution of the polluter/killers. After all the chemical spills, fish kills, and the creation of a dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico as big as New Jersey, populists called for the regulation of industrial agriculture.

In every instance, big oil, big banks, Wall Street, and big chemical agriculture combined to frustrate and derail regulation, even dismantling long fought for consumer and environmental protections. The Tea Partiers, echoing arguing points from their "Tea Party teach-ins" maintain that there is too much regulation already and any new regulations will stall the recovery from the crash.

Granted, there are lots of regulations on the books at both the state and national levels. Most are actually designed to protect us and our environment (water, air, food, etc.). Sadly, many of those regulations are not enforced, because of the antiregulatory shift of our politics funded by big oil, big banks, Wall Street, and big agriculture. So, regulation is clearly not stalling the recovery, because regulators are not regulating. Lack of regulation in the auto, banking, Wall Street, and mortgage industries is what crashed our economy.

Jefferson and other framers of the constitution deliberately restricted the power of corporations in the constitution, partly to prevent them from becoming monopolistic (like the East India Company). And though continuously assaulted, many restrictions remained until Supreme Court decisions opened the doors to cartels, trusts, monopolies, and corporate personhood.

Rational protective regulation, quality products, innovation, education, and well-paid skilled labor are driving the German recovery, not stalling it. Organic farming is the fastest growing sector of our agriculture, and it too is regulated, focuses on quality, well-paid skilled labor, and innovation. Consequently, customers trust German goods and organic foods and are flocking to buy those products in ever increasing numbers. These same principles should guide our recovery. We need rational protective regulation, we need to produce quality products, we need to train, pay and protect our workforce, and we need to educate our citizens to the highest level they can attain. Jefferson was correct, we need a Regulator Revolt every twenty years. It should follow a Ghandian agenda of pacifist protest as long as possible, as they did in Madison and as the Wall Street Occupiers are trying to do now.

Though our elected leaders mouth support for peaceful rebellions abroad, the U.S. is a violent country. Calling to account and regulating the wealthy and powerful in this country will probably not remain peaceful, it never has. Already the police are randomly pepper spraying peaceful Wall Street occupiers, entrapping them, beating them, arresting them on the Brooklyn Bridge, harassing, gassing and arresting their allies in Boston, Denver, Oakland, Atlanta, San Diego and several other cities.

Many of our rebellions in the last 250 years have been violent and bloody because the rich and powerful have been willing to thwart redress of grievances, suppress criticism, crush legitimate protest, and even kill and imprison dissidents to hang on to their control. And police forces, acting against their own interests, crushed protests, and killed and imprisoned protestors. Already, Wall Street Banks have provided 4.6 million dollars to pay for round the clock police surveillance and harassment of the Wall Street occupiers.

Many of the Tea Partiers and the police have the same grievances as the populist occupiers of Wall Street. They should stop acting against their own interests and join in the struggle against our real enemy. The real enemy is the 1% who have most of the wealth, land, and power in the U.S., the 1% who bankrupted the country, the 1% that taxpayers bailed out, the 1% that refuses to pay their fair share of taxes to fix the infrastructure that they use (and helped deteriorate), the 1% that is too big to fail.

It's past time for a Regulator Revolt at home. Occupation, demonstration, and ultimately organization of a peoples' movement is essential. We must continue to confront and regulate the wealthy and prosecute corporate criminals. These are our last hopes for real change, and our first steps in the direction the revolution of 1776 promised, but failed to deliver!

Will Allen is an organic farmer, an author, a rural community organizer, and a civil rights and anti-war activist. He currently serves on the Policy Advisory board of the Organic Consumers Association, and the board of Willing Hands. As Assistant Professor Bill Allen, he and 19 others were indicted for burning the Bank of America in Isla Vista, California in 1970. They were all acquitted.  


1. Stradley, Linda , What's Cooking in America, History of High Tea/Afternoon Tea. The Tea Tradition: A History of Tea Time,

2. About North Georgia, Georgia Historical Society

3. Ragle, Brian. April 15, 2010. Historical Reality: The Boston Tea Party. Docendo dicimus.

4. Beza, Theodore 1574. Du Droit de Magistrats. Expanding upon Calvin's political resistance theory set forth in the final chapters of Calvin's Institutes. This work by Beza, Calvin's successor in Geneva, was published in response to the growing tensions between Protestant and Catholic in France, which culminated in the St. Bartholomew Day Massacre in 1572. This text argues that it is the right of a Christian to revolt against a tyrannical King, aristocrats, or the King's bureaucrats: a principle central to the American colonists' regulator fervor.

5. Erkirch, Roger A. 1977-1978 "The North Carolina Regulators on Liberty and Corruption, 1766-1771" in Perspectives in American History 11, 199-256; Kars, Marjoleine, 2002 Breaking Loose Together: The Regulator Rebellion in Pre-Revolutionary North Carolina Chapel Hill; Lee, Wayne E. 2001 Crowds and Soldiers in Revolutionary North Carolina: The Culture of Violence in Riot and War, Gainesville; Powell, William S., James H. Huhta, and Thomas J. Farnham, eds., 1971. The Regulators in North Carolina: A Documentary History, 1759-1776,  Raleigh, North Carolina History Project.
6. Richards, Leonard. 2002 Shays's Rebellion: The American Revolution's Final Battle. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

7. Slaughter, Thomas P. 1986 The Whiskey Rebellion, New York: Oxford University Press; Boyd, Steven R. ed. 1985 The Whiskey Rebellion, Westport, CT: Greenwood Press; and Rothbard, Murray. 1994 The Whiskey Rebellion. September: The Free Market.