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#41 Philip Coates

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Posted 08 January 2012 - 10:13 AM

> The Wiki page on it says there were no reported deaths from T&F in the Revolutionary period [ND]

Not reported doesn't mean non-existent. Why should deaths have been immediate and who would they have reported them -to-? No central government or dense web of reporters or tracking mechanisms, travel and information exchange often easier with England than up and down the colonial coast before paved roads/infrastructure.

#42 Ninth Doctor

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Posted 08 January 2012 - 10:19 AM

Here’s an article that looks pretty authoritative. I suggest cutting and pasting the text to Word, it’s pretty painful to read with the background and text color as it is.
http://revolution.h-...n.feathers.html

I think it’s safe to say the practice wasn’t standardized at all, with one case of a victim suffering burns (though not fatal), while another has molasses being substituted for tar. One person died from hanging, after being tarred and feathered first. I don’t see any reference to an event like what was portrayed in the clip from John Adams: attack done spontaneously during daylight, burning hot tar, victim stripped naked, witnesses everywhere, perpetrators easily identifiable (e.g. John Hancock).
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#43 Ninth Doctor

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Posted 08 January 2012 - 10:25 AM

> The Wiki page on it says there were no reported deaths from T&F in the Revolutionary period [ND]

Not reported doesn't mean non-existent. Why should deaths have been immediate and who would they have reported them -to-? No central government or dense web of reporters or tracking mechanisms, travel and information exchange often easier with England than up and down the colonial coast before paved roads/infrastructure.

Oh dear. Somewhere I’ve heard a phrase before, ah yes, “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”. Profound stuff. Thanks Phil.

And how many tax collectors and loyalists just went missing during the period? Any unexplained disappearances? Maybe the rebel-sympathising coroners systematically falsified the cause of death for the countless victims. And maybe there's a celestial teapot...
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#44 BaalChatzaf

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Posted 08 January 2012 - 10:36 AM

Posted Image


Is this one of the Borg?

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#45 Jonathan

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Posted 08 January 2012 - 01:15 PM

Yes, it's Björn Borg. Are you not a fan of tennis, Bob?

J

#46 BaalChatzaf

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Posted 08 January 2012 - 01:17 PM

Yes, it's Björn Borg. Are you not a fan of tennis, Bob?

J


Not a bit.

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#47 George H. Smith

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Posted 08 January 2012 - 01:21 PM

Here’s an article that looks pretty authoritative. I suggest cutting and pasting the text to Word, it’s pretty painful to read with the background and text color as it is.
http://revolution.h-...n.feathers.html

I think it’s safe to say the practice wasn’t standardized at all, with one case of a victim suffering burns (though not fatal), while another has molasses being substituted for tar. One person died from hanging, after being tarred and feathered first. I don’t see any reference to an event like what was portrayed in the clip from John Adams: attack done spontaneously during daylight, burning hot tar, victim stripped naked, witnesses everywhere, perpetrators easily identifiable (e.g. John Hancock).


This is a very useful account. Thanks.

I agree with you that the kind of incident portrayed in the John Adams movie was very unlikely to have occurred. For one thing, mob violence was almost always planned in advance and was typically well organized. For another, if someone of the stature of Hancock had been around, he almost certainly would have stopped it.

Some of my recent Cato Essays are based on extensive research and writing that I did during the 1980s, especially for my Knowledge Products manuscripts on the American Revolution and my lectures for Cato Summer Seminars. I recall that my original comments about tarring and feathering during the revolutionary era were based on at least three sources: Merrill Jensen's excellent book on the American Revolution (which is were I got the info about infections and death); Peter Oliver's contemporary account in Origin and Progress of the American Rebellion (which is cited in the article you linked); and various acounts in Peter Force's American Archives -- a massive collection of original documents that is still used by historians.

You are right in saying that the practice was not standardized. In some cases the victim was allowed to keep his clothes on, and I've read stories of where the perpetrators helped to remove the tar before it had a chance to cool. Moreover, tarring and feathering was sometimes accompanied by beatings, and those would cause injuries.

Nevertheless, as the Wiki article indicates in the case of Joseph Smith, Jr. (1832), tarring and feathering could prove very painful, primarily from removing the tar.


They spent much of the night scraping the tar from his body, leaving his skin raw and bloody. The following day, Smith spoke at a church devotional meeting and was reported to have been covered with raw wounds and still weak from the attack.


An interesting account can be found in Lord Mahon's account of the American Revolution, published in 1851.


This process was to strip the patient naked, bedaub his body with tar, and roll him round in feathers, and then turn him out into the streets. Such a process may be treated as a jest, and indeed was sometimes talked of as such in England; but attended as it was too commonly with blows, it put victims to considerable suffering as well as to shame.

Tarring and feathering although the most effectual were not the only methods by which the good men of Massacusetts manifested their displeasure. Another favorite device with any obnoxious person was to smear over his whole house with pitch or filth, so as to render it for a time almost uninhabitable.


To smear excrement over the walls of the houses of tax collectors and other government officials -- hmmm, I doubt if that tactic would be well received today. But it does exhibit a certain symbolic value. 8-)

Mahon's remarks about tarring and feathering support your claim about variations in the procedure. It could be relatively harmless or serious, depending on how it was done. I know that blacks were sometimes tarred and feathered by racists during the 19th century, and in such cases I suspect the perpetrators did so with more than humiliation in mind.

In her book on American Loyalists (The British Americans: The Loyalist Exiles in England, 1774-1789), Mary Beth Norton claims that the use of tarring and feathering during the revolutionary era "has been greatly exaggerated." She says that "a few men were tarred and feathered" but that mere threats were usually sufficient to get the job done.

As I noted before, the article you linked cites the loyalist Peter Oliver several times. It should be noted that Oliver, former Chief Justice of the Superior Court of Massachusetts and a key member of the Hutchinson Junto, was one of the most hated men in the colonies. Having been a victim himself of the Sons of Liberty during the Stamp Act Crisis, he had a score to settle, so his account should be read with caution.

Ghs

#48 Brant Gaede

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Posted 08 January 2012 - 01:39 PM


No argument from me. I was just doing one of my morph posts.

--Brant


What is a "morph post"?

Ba'al Chatzaf

I use a post to comment on another post then use that platform to go to a different subject out of facts and logic. Or, in this case, tar and feathering to public sanitation.

--Brant

Rational Individualist, Rational self-interest, Individual Rights--limited government libertarian heavily influenced by Objectivism


#49 George H. Smith

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 08:50 AM

http://www.libertari...an-independence

Committees of Correspondence and the Road to American Independence

My Cato Essay #11 is now up.

Ghs

#50 George H. Smith

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Posted 17 January 2012 - 10:43 AM

http://www.libertari...oston-tea-party

The Boston Tea Party

My Cato Essay #12 is now up.

Ghs

#51 daunce lynam

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Posted 17 January 2012 - 01:26 PM


> The Wiki page on it says there were no reported deaths from T&F in the Revolutionary period [ND]

Not reported doesn't mean non-existent. Why should deaths have been immediate and who would they have reported them -to-? No central government or dense web of reporters or tracking mechanisms, travel and information exchange often easier with England than up and down the colonial coast before paved roads/infrastructure.

Oh dear. Somewhere I’ve heard a phrase before, ah yes, “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”. Profound stuff. Thanks Phil.

And how many tax collectors and loyalists just went missing during the period? Any unexplained disappearances? Maybe the rebel-sympathising coroners systematically falsified the cause of death for the countless victims. And maybe there's a celestial teapot...


Interesting stuff. My ancestors were Massachussets Tories and there is a family legend that one of them was tarred and feathered and ridden on a rail. He died shortly after that but no cause of death has been found.

#52 Ninth Doctor

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Posted 17 January 2012 - 04:48 PM

The Boston Tea Party

And here I thought Schoolhouse Rock was accurate!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-9pDZMRCpQ
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#53 George H. Smith

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Posted 24 January 2012 - 08:54 AM

http://www.libertari...al-significance
The Coercive Acts and Their Theoretical Significance

My Cato Essay #13 is now up.

This is one of the better essays so far, in my humble and unbiased opinion. 8-)

Ghs

#54 Brant Gaede

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Posted 24 January 2012 - 09:50 AM

http://www.libertari...al-significance
The Coercive Acts and Their Theoretical Significance

My Cato Essay #13 is now up.

This is one of the better essays so far, in my humble and unbiased opinion. 8-)

Ghs

Ha! I knew I should wait!

--Brant
lying liar from Tucson

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#55 Philip Coates

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Posted 24 January 2012 - 02:38 PM

This is a great little essay.

It's good to post a comment on something you like, not because someone is a friend (or not) but because if something is good, that supports it. I just read George's essay and wanted to post a comment but unfortunately (I've seen this elsewhere) you have to comment "using" Facebook or Yahoo. Not quite sure what that means, but I'm no longer on Facebook and when I clicked on Yahoo, it seemed to want me to give permission to make public my Yahoo emall address. No thank you.

(Note also that personal animosities or ill-will or having been insulted by someone are often not a sufficient reason for failing to give credit where it's due. It's not like there is a huge oversupply of good writing on history or in other intellectual areas.)

I forgot to mention below that another good thing about it is its brevity. Like Lincoln, it's legs are just long enough to reach the ground.

#56 Philip Coates

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Posted 24 January 2012 - 02:40 PM

Here is what I wrote about this essay on the Coercive Acts and would have been happy to post on libertarianism.org if it weren't for the hurdles/roadblock I just mentioned:

"This is a very good essay. First of all, the author clearly, logically traces the sequence of events and how they escalate, how one source of suspicion or infringement leads to a small response which leads to a retaliation, which leads to bigger response and so forth. That was never fully clear to me in the history courses I took during my school days. And what I'd call "the logic of escalation" happens all the time and is useful to understand: It has many applications in human affairs. Second, his use of documentation, quotes from Washington and others is helpful and gives the flavor of the times. This sort of exposition would have made my history textbooks far more interesting and the circumstances leading to the American Revolution more clear."

#57 George H. Smith

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Posted 24 January 2012 - 03:01 PM

Here is what I wrote about this essay on the Coercive Acts and would have been happy to post on libertarianism.org if it weren't for the hurdles/roadblock I just mentioned: "This is a very good essay. First of all, the author clearly, logically traces the sequence of events and how they escalate, how one source of suspicion or infringement leads to a small response which leads to a retaliation, which leads to bigger response and so forth. That was never fully clear to me in the history courses I took during my school days. And what I'd call "the logic of escalation" happens all the time and is useful to understand: It has many applications in human affairs. Second, his use of documentation, quotes from Washington and others is helpful and gives the flavor of the times. This sort of exposition would have made my history textbooks far more interesting and the circumstances leading to the American Revolution more clear."


Thanks, Phil. I very much appreciate your comments.

You are on my What a swell guy! list until we lock horns once again. 8-)

Ghs

#58 Philip Coates

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Posted 24 January 2012 - 03:02 PM

Yeah, that means for about five minutes.

#59 George H. Smith

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Posted 31 January 2012 - 08:44 AM

http://www.libertari...ad-independence
Fingering the King on the Road to Independence

My Cato Essay #14 is now up.

Ghs

#60 Brant Gaede

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Posted 31 January 2012 - 09:32 AM

"We can now appreciate whey [sic] many Americans detested being called 'rebels.'"

Rational Individualist, Rational self-interest, Individual Rights--limited government libertarian heavily influenced by Objectivism





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