Kelly Bullis: Taxes and Independence Day (Voices)

Kelly Bullis

Kelly Bullis

What comes to your mind when you think of Independence Day 1776 and taxes? The Boston Tea Party, right?
Well, you need to know the background story. The British Empire was quite far reaching and expensive to maintain back then. After an expensive war with France in 1763, King George was literally bankrupt, so Parliament passed a bunch of tax acts, levied against outlying colonies, including America. Most were rejected rather quickly, like the Stamp Act, the Townshend Acts, the Indemnity Act, the Commissioners of Customs Act, the Vice Admiralty Court Act, and the New York Restraining Act.
Needless to say, the American colonists were not happy at all! A Philadelphia lawyer named John Dickenson wrote a series of essays called, “Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania” arguing that “taxation without representation” was not allowed. Yup, that is where that now famous quote came from.
Shortly after Dickenson’s essays, the British Parliament partially repealed the Townshend Act, but then introduced a new tax called the “Tea Act.” (Starting to see where the Boston Tea Party might be coming from?) The “Tea Act” was actually designed to create a monopoly for the only source of tea coming from the East India Tea Company, excluding all American colony tea.
Well, the colonists in Philadelphia and New York were successful in turning away the East India Tea Company ships, but not Boston. The Governor of Massachusetts wouldn’t allow the ships to be turned away and the colonists would not let the ships unload in the harbor, creating a stand-off. On Dec. 16, 1773, colonists snuck onto the ships and dumped out the tea. This event became known as the “Boston Tea Party.”
This “Boston Tea Party” didn’t lead directly to the Declaration of Independence. Instead, it annoyed the British Parliament. The British saw it as the Americans throwing a temper tantrum. In response, the British attempted to punish the Americans through a series of laws called the Coercive Acts. Boston was targeted particularly hard.
At this point, the colonists had had enough. They convened the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia in September 1774 to consider the next steps. Eventually, the first shots were fired, in Massachusetts of course. That’s where the famous ride of Paul Revere happened and the subsequent battles of Lexington and Concord.
The Second Continental Congress met on July 2, 1776. The Declaration of Independence was then formally adopted by 12 of the 13 colonies on July 4. (New York finally adopted it a few weeks later. Gotta love how New York has always been a stubborn thorn in our sides!)
There you go. Taxation without representation! Sometimes it feels like Congress has forgotten that.
Have you heard? Job 30:28 says, “I go about darkened, but not by the sun; I stand up in the assembly and cry for help.”
Kelly Bullis is a Certified Public Accountant in Carson City. Contact him at 882-4459. On the web at Also on Facebook.


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