Chapter 6, Salt-Water Tea Notes from Johnny Tremain

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Johnny Tremain Chapter 6, Salt-Water Tea

By the fall of 1773, stirrings of political unrest become more evident; even from the pulpit, a sermon of "taxation without representation" is preached more fiercely than the fear of God. Much is made of England's insistence upon a small tax on tea, which the Americans protest on principle.

Early one Sunday morning in November, Sam Adams comes to the printing shop to ask that placards be printed to warn people of an impending arrival of the Dartmouth, a ship sailing from England that is bringing tea from the East India Company. The note reads:

"Friends! Brethren! Countrymen! That worst of Plagues, the detested tea shipped for this Port by the East India Company, is now arrived in the Harbour: the hour of destruction, of manly opposition to the machinations of Tyranny, stares you in the Face; Every Friend to his Country, to Himself, and to Posterity, is now called upon to meet at Faneuil Hall, at nice o'clock this day, at which time the bells will ring to make united and successful resistance to this last, worst and most destructive measure of Administration...Boston, Nov. 29, 1773." Chapter 6, pg. 107

Topic Tracking: Pride 5

Sam Adams alerts Mr. Lorne that there will be a meeting of the Observers that night. Johnny is to notify the members by saying, "Mr. So and So owes eight shillings for his newspaper" (pg. 107). Johnny makes the rounds, telling the Observers about the meeting. On his route, Johnny instinctively heads to Merchant Lyte's house, hoping to catch a glimpse of the intriguing Miss Lavinia Lyte. He sees her riding a horse and helps her dismount. She does not thank him. Johnny finds her to be the most disagreeable person he ever met; still, her dark beauty captivates him.

Near Paul Revere's shop at North Square, Johnny is surprised to see Cilla and Isannah waiting at the water pump (he had not kept his promise of meeting them on Thursdays and Sundays). Before, he would have been interested in knowing what is happening at the Lapham household, but now he finds those things trivial compared with the new, exciting things in his life. Johnny is irritated by Cilla's faithfulness in showing up every time. Johnny has changed much since he last lived with the Laphams.

Topic Tracking: Friendship 4

Later that day, Johnny finds Doctor Warren, who asks to see his crippled hand. Johnny declines and lies to the doctor that his hand is crippled from birth.

That night, there is a meeting of the Observers. Rab and Johnny make punch for the meeting. John Hancock is in the moderator seat, with Sam Adams constantly whispering in his ears. Everyone knows that Sam Adams does not want to compromise with England. John Hancock tells the boys not to talk about any of the secrets he is about to tell them. On the sixteenth of December, when the twenty days are up (else the ships must either go back or be seized by the customs house), young men are to board the ships and dump the tea into the Boston Harbor. Rab says he can get fifteen or so boys; Paul Revere says he can get around twenty more. As the men discuss who should lead the raid, the boys are told to leave the room. That night in bed, Johnny asks Rab if he can be one of the boys to go on the raid. Rab says yes and tells Johnny that he has twenty days to practice using a hatchet with one good hand. Johnny has so many things running through his mind that it takes a long time for him to fall asleep.

In the town meetings, Sam Adams and others incite the people to respond boldly against unloading the tea from the ships. Thus, the three ships, the Dartmouth, the Eleanor, and the Beaver, are unable to unload the tea because of the townspeople, and unable to sail back to England. If they try to sail back, they will be sunk by the British Navy.

On December 16th, Rotch, the owner of the Dartmouth, makes one last unsuccessful appeal to Governor Hutchinson for permission to sail back to England. Rab tells Johnny to go to the meeting at the Old South Church and listen for a signal from Sam Adams. When Johnny gets there, he sees thousands gathered. He fights his way through so that he can hear what Sam Adams has to say. Johnny is able to hear Sam Adams say, "This meeting can do nothing more to save the country" (pg. 124). At these words, Johnny blows his whistle, a signal to start the raid. Johnny runs back to the office and finds Rab waiting for him dressed in his Indian uniform. They both run for Griffin's Wharf where the ships are docked. Already there is a crowd. Rab and Johnny follow Paul Revere's lead. While they are chopping the chests of tea, Johnny notices that Dove is secretly stealing some of the tea, which goes against the stern warning that no tea be stolen or any other cargo than tea be damaged so as to uphold the integrity of the protest. Johnny tells Rab regarding Dove, "He swim good," imitating Indian talk. Rab throws Dove into the harbor. When all the tea is thrown into the water, the ships are cleaned. Sam Adams is in the crowd and Johnny notices his approving look. As the "Indians" head back, a voice from a window tells them:

"'ve had a fine, pleasant evening for your Indian caper, haven't you? But've got to pay the fiddler yet." Chapter 6, pg. 127

It is the British Admiral Montague. He means that someone is going to pay for this deed.

The next day, many young men are sore from the previous night's work, but they remain silent about it. The night before, after finishing with the tea, Paul Revere gets on horseback for New York and Philadelphia to report on the success of the Tea Party.

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