Greenwich Tea Burning Chapter, NSDAR, Bridgeton, New Jersey

   About the Greenwich Tea Burners

[From"History of the early settlement and progress of Cumberland County, New Jersey, and of the currency of this and the adjoining colonies," by Lucius Q.C. Elmer, Bridgeton, N.J.: George F. Nixon Publishers, 1869]

"Those familiar with the history of the English colonies in North America, will remember that it was the persistence of the British government in taxing the people, without allowing them to be represented in Parliament, that brought on the Revolution, and hastened their Independence. In 1773, all those taxes were repealed but the duty on tea, which our forefathers not only resolved not to sue, but which they would not suffer to be landed and offered for sale. The East India Company, which then had the monopoly of this commodity, was encouraged to send it to this country, and was allowed a drawback of all the duties paid in England, it being supposed that the cheapness of the article would tempt our people to purchase largely. Cargoes were sent to all the large seaports; but at some places the tea was not permitted to be landed, and at others it was stored, but not allowed to be sold. In December, a party disguised as Indians boarded one of the ships in Boston harbor, and threw the tea into the water."

"A brig, called the 'Greyhound,' bound to Philadelphia, with a cargo of tea, the captain of which was afraid to proceed to his place of destination, in the summer of 1774 came into the Cohansey, landed his tea, and had it stored in the cellar of a house standing in front of the then open market-square. This house is not now standing, and the market-square has been enclosed as a private property. Imitating the example of the Bostonians, a company of near forty men was organized, with the concurrence of the committee of safety of the county, of which Jonathan Elmer, the royal sheriff, was an active member, who disguised themselves as Indians, and on the night of December 22, 1774, broke into the store-house, took out the boxes of tea, and burned them in a neighboring field."

"The owners of the tea commenced actions of trespass against such of the disguised Indians as they thought they could identify, in the Supreme Court of the State, Joseph Reed of Philadelphia and Mr. Petit of Burlington, being their lawyers. Money for the defense was raised by subscription and Joseph Bloomfield, then residing at Bridgeton, George Read of New Castle, Elias Boudinot of Elizabethtown, and Jonathan D. Serjeant of Philadelphia, all eminent counsellors, were employed on behalf of the defendants. No trial, however, ever took place. The plaintiffs were ruled to enter security for the costs, which being neglected, a judgment of non pros was entered at May Term, 1776, but at the succeeding term security was filed, and the non pros set aside. The new constitution of the State, adopted in July, having displaced the Royal Judges, and their places being filled in the succeeding winter with Whigs, the actions were dropped, and no further proceedings took place on either side."
 


Philip V. Fithian, one of the "tea burning" participants, made this note in his journal, "Friday 23 -- Last night the tea was, by a number of persons in disguise, taken out of the house and consumed with fire. Violent and different are the words about this uncommon manoeuvre among the inhabitants. Some rave, some curse, and condemn; some try to reason; many are glad the tea is destroyed, but almost all disapprove the manner of destruction."

The names of most of the participants appear on the granite monument erected in their memory at Greenwich, New Jersey, in 1908, by the State of New Jersey.

The bronze tablet on the Greenwich monument states:

IN HONOR OF THE
PATRIOTS OF CUMBERLAND COUNTY,
NEW JERSEY
WHO, ON THE EVENING OF
DECEMBER 22, 1774
BURNED BRITISH TEA NEAR
THIS SITE~

(On the east side is)
TEA BURNERS
EBENEZER ELMER
LEWIS HOWELL
TIMOTHY ELMER
RICHARD HOWELL
JAMES EWING
JAMES B. HUNT
THOMAS EWING
JOHN HUNT
JOEL FITHIAN
ANDREW HUNTER, JR.
PHILIP V. FITHIAN
JOEL MILLER
(On the west side is)
TEA BURNERS
ALEXANDER MOORE, JR.
HENRY SEELEY
EPHRAIM NEWCOMB
JOSIAH SEELEY
SILAS NEWCOMB
ABRAHAM SHEPPARD
CLARENCE PARVIN
HENRY STACKS
DAVID PIERSON
SILAS WHITEKAR
STEPHEN PIERSON
AND OTHERS

Greenwich Tea Burning Chapter | Bridgeton, New Jersey
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