A Boston Tea Party meme featuring historical artwork.

Boston Tea Party / Libertea

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About

The Boston Tea Party, also known as Freedom Tea and Libertea, refers to an event in history and eventual meme trope in which the American Revolutionary War against Great Britain is summarized simply by American colonists’ reluctance to pay more for tea. Most of these memes use either historical paintings or modern image macros to emphasize the absurdity of the situation. They are especially popular on Reddit and Twitter and increase in numbers annually as American Independence Day approaches.

Origin

On December 17th, 1773, The Sons of Liberty and numerous soon-to-be American colonists in Massachusetts protested the Tea Act imposed by Great Britain by sneaking onto three ships holding tea from the British East India Company. They ripped open 342 chests of tea and tossed the contents into the Boston Harbor, equating to over 90,000 pounds of the product being unprofitable for the British.[1] Though the act was motivated by the imposition of unfair taxes without any representation for the colonists, this incident that helped to incite the Revolutionary War is often simplified online to insist that Americans only wanted independence because tea was too expensive.

The first known meme mocking the Boston Tea Party came in the form of a Tumblr crosspost on Reddit.[2] Posted to /r/tumblr in 2013 by u/Magma151, the meme (seen below) received 1,900 upvotes and 41 comments.


cap-gamelamer: tangedolium: WAIT IS IT ACTUALLY GENUINELY A THING THAT AMERICANS DON'T HAVE KETTLES? BUT THEN HOW DO THEY MAKE TEA?! by throwing it into the harbor

Spread

Initially, Boston Tea Party memes were only popular among online galleries on sites like Memedroid and Imgflip.com. One of the earliest of these memes was this post entitled "Boston Tea Party" (seen below) uploaded to Memedroid[3] by user Born4Sin14 on July 5th, 2014. It received 3,497 likes.


How this American celebrated Independence Day in London Lipton LEHON

The meme trend began to spread to mainstream platforms such as Instagram and Twitter in 2015. For example, Redditor u/KingKoopa777 posted this meme (seen below) in 2015 to /r/TheLastAirbender[4], depicting Uncle Iroh from Avatar: The Last Airbender expressing grief at seeing so much tea being thrown away. It received 1,700 upvotes and 62 comments.


In 1773, Boston settlers dressed themselves in native american costumes and invaded british ships in protest against the high taxes, throwing tons of tea into the sea.

Eventually, it became a mainstream history meme when it became a popular reference on /r/HistoryMemes.[5] The most popular Boston Tea Party meme on the subreddit is a screenshotted /r/AskReddit post (seen below) uploaded by u/karmaths. It received over 48,800 upvotes and 538 comments.


r/AskReddit Townlmmediate9060 • 3h •.. What is socially acceptable in the U.S. That would be horrifying in the U.K.? 1 6.4k 3 4.8k Devi1_May_Cry 2h •.. Dumping mass quantities of tea in the harbor. 1 971 QReply 2

Various Examples


米 american independence war enacting the tea act The founding fathers looking down from heaven and seeing people in modern America drinking tea made with mematic Marine life adapts to the environmental impact of the Boston Tea Party (c. 1773; colorized):

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