History – Strange but True

The Stamp Act is hailed as one of the sparks which lead to the American Revolution. Colonists resented Parliament enforcing such taxes without their consent, and felt their rights as English Citizens were being trampled. So, for the first time, the Colonies began to communicate together in an effort to coordinate the defense of those rights.

Interestingly enough, one way to show your support for the colonies was to put a special tea kettle out which read, “No Stamp Act.” These were put on market shortly after the Stamp Act was repealed. You’ll still see them in various interpretive history museums – the one depicted below comes from Williamsburg, VA.

No Stamp Act tea kettle

Here’s the kicker, the tea kettle was a finished good, and just about all finished goods in the colonies at that time came from… England! There was a firm in England which made a huge profit selling disgruntled colonists a means by which they could thumb their nose at Parliament! Even in the 18th Century, when patriotism and profit collided profit often came out on top.

The funny thing is, at least according to the Williamsburg employee I spoke with last summer, is that this same firm continues to make these kettles, it’s where the living-history museums get them to this day. The kettles on sale at Williamsburg marketplace are imported from Hartley Greens & Company in Leeds, England – which, according to the shopping page, has been around since 1770 1. Whether it’s the same manufacturer or not, I still find it hysterical that we’re still importing colonial protest items from the same country we protested against.

  1. Though a logo I found for the company says it was established in 1781, so there’s a discrepancy here.