On Wednesday’s The Five on Fox News, the topic of discussion was a report from the conservative Heritage Foundation which places the U.S. in the number 12 position worldwide in terms of economic freedom.
Andrea Tantaros said that the problem with other nations is that they study both their own history and ours but that in this country most people don’t know their own history. To provide us with proof of that claim, she proceeded to demonstrate her own lack of historical knowledge:
“If you ask most people, they don’t even know why we left England,” she proclaimed. “They don’t even know why some guy in Boston got his head blown off because he tried to secretly raise the tax on tea. Most people don’t know that.”
It is a good thing for her that she was not answering a question on a history exam, she would have missed that answer by miles.
When Politifact sought answers from experts in American history about her comments they were perplexed — not having any idea what she may have been talking about, since no one in Boston or elsewhere had his “head blown off” for attempting to raise the tax on tea, secretly or otherwise. And that is only a small part of her misinformation.
There was no increase in the tax on tea in the 1773 Tea Act, and in fact three years earlier all tariffs except the tea tax had been repealed. What the Tea Act did was to subsidize the British East Indies Company, a private corporation, so that they were able to sell tea in the colonies at a lower price than even the smugglers of the time were able to sell it.
In other words it was an early example of corporate welfare, the only sort of welfare that the talking heads at Fox News does not dislike.
“The Tea Act is routinely and understandably (but incorrectly) lumped in with these other other laws that did raise taxes,” said Guy Chet, a University of North Texas associate professor.
The man who did actually conceive the Tea Tax and for whom the act was named, Chancellor of the Exchequer Charles Townshend did not die in Boston, nor did he die by having “his head blown off.” He died in England shortly after the enactment of the tax in 1767, of what was described as a “putrid fever.”
“I don’t know what Tantaros is talking about. Sounds like bunk to me,” said another expert, Benjamin L. Carp, an associate professor of early American history at Tufts University and author of Defiance of the Patriots: The Boston Tea Party and the Making of America.
In short, there was never an increase in the tea tax, secret or overt, and no one ever had his head blown off for having attempted to do so. Politifact rated Ms. Tantaros remarks as “pants on fire.”
h/t: Pundit Fact