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Tea: Consumption, Politics, and Revolution, 1773–1776

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With support from: Lowell Institute
Date and time
Monday, December 11, 2023
6:00pm - 7:00pm Add to Calendar
Old South Meeting House
310 Washington S
Boston, Massachusetts 02108
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Join Revolutionary Spaces on Monday, December 11 at the Old South Meeting House for a discussion with Dr. James Fichter of the University of Hong Kong to mark the publication of his new book Tea: Consumption, Politics, and Revolution, 1773–1776. Dr. Fichter will be joined in conversation with Dr. Nathaniel Sheidley, President and CEO of Revolutionary Spaces.

In his new book, Dr. Fichter reveals a new dimension of the Boston Tea Party by exploring a story largely overlooked for the last 250 years—The fate of two large shipments of East India Company tea that survived and were drunk in North America. The book challenges the prevailing wisdom around the tea protests and consumer boycotts while showing the economic reality behind political rhetoric: Colonists did not turn away from tea as they became revolutionary Americans. While history records the noisy protests and prohibitions of patriots, merchant ledgers reveal that tea and British goods continued to be widely sold and consumed.

By bringing different locations and events into the story and reinterpreting old ones, Dr. Fichter shows how the continuing risk that these shipments would be sold shaped colonial politics in the years ahead. He also hints at the enduring potency of consumerism in revolutionary politics.

Following the reading and discussion, guests will have the opportunity to purchase their own copy of the book. Dr. Fichter will be available to sign copies and answer questions.

This program is free and open to the public. Doors will open at 5:30 pm and the program will begin at 6:00 pm. Light snacks and refreshments will be provided.
Click here for more information about Tea: Consumption, Politics, and Revolution, 1773–1776.

This program is made possible by the generous support of The Lowell Institute.

Click here to attend virtually.

JAMES FICHTER is Associate Professor of European and American Studies at the University of Hong Kong, where he teaches courses on maritime history, the revolutionary Atlantic, and World War I. Fichter is also the author of So Great a Profit: How the East Indies Transformed Anglo-American Capitalism (Harvard, 2010) and editor of British and French Colonialism in Africa, Asia and the Middle East: Connected Empires across the Eighteenth to the Twentieth Centuries (Palgrave, Cambridge Imperial and Post-Colonial Studies, 2019), as well as author of various articles. His next monograph, Suez Passage to India: Britain, France, and the Great Game at Sea, 1798-1885, examines the interconnections between the British and French Empires in Asian waters, from Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt in 1798 to the Sino-French War in 1885. He received a BA in history and international studies from Brown University in 2001, and a Ph.D. from Harvard University in 2006.
**Nat Sheidley **is the President and CEO of Revolutionary Spaces, an organization that stewards Boston’s Old State House and Old South Meeting House. He was formerly Executive Director of the Bostonian Society and Assistant Professor of American and Native American History at Wellesley College. He is a graduate of Stanford University and holds a Ph.D. in American History from Princeton University.

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