Did Sons of Liberty plan the Tea Party?
When historians are trying to answer the question of who masterminded the destruction of tea in Boston Harbor, one group immediately comes to mind The Sons of Liberty.
"The Sons" was an organization that existed not only in Boston but also in nearly all of the colonies. It was first known in Boston as the "Union Club" which was formed in Boston in 1765, and had among its members most of the leading patriots of the day.
Their organization was secret, with private passwords to protect them form Tory spies. Their public meetings in Boston were held under the "Liberty Tree," in the open space, know as "Liberty Hall," at the junction of Newbury, Orange and Essex Sts. (now Washington and Essex Sts.) However the fact the conspirators always met at the same location did not exactly help the security of their network.
Other than staging protests, public demonstrations and sabotaging the British authorities, the group practically acted as the shadow government. The Sons of Liberty gave out warrants for the arrest of suspected persons, arranged in secret committee the preliminaries of elections, and the programs for public celebrations.
In Boston approximately three hundred members belonged to the secret society. Local chapters included in this larger and more important one were "The North End Caucus," and the "Long-room club."
One of the rare vivid accounts of a Sons of Liberty meeting was first published in a work called "Tea Leaves of 1773," by Francis S. Drake, reference is made to them in an extract from the "Diary of President John Adams." He says, under date of June 15, "I spent the evening with the Sons of Liberty at their own appointment, in Hanover Square, near the 'Tree of Liberty.' It is a counting-room in Chase and Speakman's distillery. A very small room it is. There were present Jon Avery a distiller, of liberal education, John Smith the brazier, Thomas Crafts the painter, Benj. Edes the printer, Stephen Cleverly brazier, Thomas Chase distiller, Joseph Field master of a vessel, Henry Bass, Geo. Trott jeweler, and Hernry Wells. I was very cordially and respectfully treated by all present. We had punch, wine, pipes and tobacco, biscuit and cheese, etc. they chose a committee to make preparation for a grand rejoicing upon the arrival of the news of the repeal of the Stamp Act."
Not a bad way to plan the Boston Tea Party as you can see…
Sons of Liberty stood to be a major political force during the Revolution but unlike Freemasonry for example, its membership declined dramatically since its peak. The modern-days organization that claims to be the descendent of the Sons is called the Improved Order of Red Men. It membership was approximately half a million in 1935 but declined to less than 38,000 in the 21st century.