Tea and Antipathy

From The New Yorker:

Pix What did the American Revolution look like? Nathaniel Hawthorne imagined it as an angry face, painted so as to appear divided in two. “One side of the face blazed of an intense red, while the other was black as midnight,” he wrote. This uncanny visage appears in Hawthorne’s tale “My Kinsman, Major Molineux,” of 1831; its owner rides on horseback through moonlit Boston streets, carrying a drawn sword and leading a mob of people who laugh and shout as they wheel along a rich elderly man whom they have tarred and feathered.

Hawthorne’s “double-faced fellow” was modelled on a historical figure who went by the pseudonym Joyce Jr. and, in the seventeen-seventies, claimed to lead Boston’s Committee for Tarring and Feathering. In 1777, Abigail Adams recorded the charges against five merchants who were his victims: “It seems they have refused to take paper money, and offered their goods lower for silver than for paper.” During wartime, anxieties about hoarding and profiteering no doubt shortened tempers, and, in the Boston Gazette, Joyce Jr. threatened “Judgment without Mercy” to anyone else guilty of “such nefarious Practices.” Joyce Jr. had little of the dignity that we associate with the Founding Fathers; his tone was bitter, and, more important, his grievance was mercenary rather than ideological.

More here.