Tuesday, December 16, 2003

December 16, 1773

230 years ago today, Nigel Jones gathered with 8,000 fellow Bostonians to hear Sam Adams reveal that Royal Governor Hutchinson had repeated his command not to allow the ships out of the harbor until all tea taxes were paid. Later that night, Nigel and his fellow Bostonians dressed in Mohawk Indian garb and raided the ships. All told they dumped 342 containers of tea into Boston Harbor.

The next morning, Nigel woke up early to bathe his horse. He strolled down to the harbor and saw many containers of tea still floating upon the water. Nigel sprinted to his tiny boat and rowed into the water. Using his giant oak oar, Nigel began smashing at the containers. His belief, and the belief shared by many of the patriots, was that if this little stunt was to work, all of the tea must be made unsalvageable.

Soon, other Bostonians noticed Nigel and realized what he was doing. They also hopped on whatever boats they could find, and helped him destroy the remaining tea. Later that morning after all the tea was destroyed, Sam Adams himself met with Nigel and gave him his deepest regards for a job well done. Nigel was greatly honored by Sam Adams taking notice of him and took great pride the rest of his life in boasting of his brush with glory.

I share this story because Nigel Jones was my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather, and I’d like for him to be remembered for his good deeds instead of his less honorable actions. On December 14, 1799, Nigel Jones broke into Mount Vernon to deliver an angrily worded letter accusing George Washington of looking at his horse Sven in a queer manner one time in 1793. Washington saw Jones skulking about on his balcony and collapsed. The violent fall ended the life of the former President and General. For many years, Nigel Jones was referred to as the man who killed George Washington. The incident lead to the Nigel Jones Act of 1801, which treated trespassing on a former-President’s property to complain about an imaginary incident as a Federal crime. The punishment for violation of the Nigel Jones Act of 1801 was the “drawing and quartering of the guilty party.” Oddly enough, the first and only person ever to violate the Nigel Jones Act of 1801 was Nigel Jones himself. In 1830, Nigel Jones broke into the estate of James Monroe to complain about the over-abundance of clouds in Buffalo, New York. Two months after the incident, Nigel Jones was drawn and quartered per the Nigel Jones Act of 1801.

Tonight, I will be dumping 342 containers of tea into Oakland Harbor to honor the memory of Nigel Jones.

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