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Roger Bannister: Part 3 – Running the “Miracle Mile” with John Landy


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Myself  .By T.V. Antony Raj

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Blue plaque recording the first sub-4-minute mile run by Roger Bannister on 6 May 1954 at Oxford University's Iffley Road Track. (Photograph by Jonathan Bowen)
Blue plaque recording the first sub-4-minute mile run by Roger Bannister on 6 May 1954 at Oxford University’s Iffley Road Track. (Photograph by Jonathan Bowen)

Forbes named the significant feat of breaking the four-minute barrier by Roger Banister as one of the greatest athletic achievements in the history of athletics.

On June 21, 1954, at an international meet in Turku, Finland, John Landy became the second man, after Roger Bannister, to achieve a sub-4-minute mile. He clocked a world record time of 3:57.9, ratified by the IAAF as 3:58.0 owing to the rounding rules then in effect. That record held for more than three years.

Though Roger Banister had already created history on May 6, 1954, some felt the flagrant pacing tainted this achievement. They felt that world records should be created through pure racing as John Landy did. They said that Banister, Brasher, and Chataway had acted within the letters of the amateur rules, but not within the spirit of those rules. The Australians argued that Landy’s 3:58 in Turku was the first legitimate sub-4. But Roger Banister did not pay any heed to his detractors.

The face of John Landy in second place in the Fifth Empire games (30 July 30 to August 7, 1954) in Vancouver, Canada (Source: thebounce.co.za)
The face of John Landy in second place in the Fifth Empire games (30 July 30 to August 7, 1954) in Vancouver, Canada (Source: thebounce.co.za)

Roger Banister was pitted against the Australian in the Fifth British Empire and Commonwealth Games held at the Empire Stadium in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, from July 30 – August 7, 1954.

It was at these games that the “Miracle Mile” took place between Roger Bannister and John Landy on August 7, 1954. This was the first time these two, the only sub-four-minute mile runners at that time appeared in the same race. John Landy was still holding the world record. It was also the first time two runners broke four minutes in the same race.

Landy led for most of the race, building a lead of 10 yards in the third lap. Roger showed the highly acclaimed Landy that he was still the boss by dashing on the final bend of the fourth lap and winning the event in 3:58.8 with Landy 0.8 seconds behind him. Both Bannister and Landy have pointed out that the crucial moment of the race was when Landy looked over his left shoulder to gauge Bannister’s position and Bannister burst past him on the right.

A sculpture of Roger Bannister and John Landy by Jack Harman placed outside of the Empire Stadium to commemorate the Miracle Mile. (Photo: Paul Joseph)
A sculpture of Roger Bannister and John Landy by Jack Harman placed outside of the Empire Stadium to commemorate the Miracle Mile. (Photo: Paul Joseph)

In 1967, inspired by a photograph by Vancouver Sun photographer Charlie Warner, Vancouver sculptor Jack Harman created a larger-than-life bronze sculpture of the two men. In this sculpture, Landy looks over his left shoulder to see his rival’s position and Bannister sprints past him on the right.

This sculpture stood for many years at the entrance to Empire Stadium. After the demolition of the stadium, the  sculpture was moved a short distance away to the Hastings and Renfrew entrance of the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) fairgrounds. John Landy once quipped about this  sculpture:

“While Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of salt for looking back, I am probably the only one ever turned into bronze for looking back.”

On August 29, 1954 Roger Bannister won the 1500 metres, the so-called metric mile, at the European Championships in Bern in a time of 3:43.8, a championship record.

After the Bern meet, Roger retired from athletics to concentrate on his work as a junior doctor and pursued a career in neurology.

St. Mary’s Hospital (London), Imperial College School of Medicine have named a lecture theatre after Roger Bannister. It houses the stopwatch used to time the race on display, stopped at 3:59.

Later, Roger Banister became the first Chairman of the Sports Council, now known as Sport England. In 1975, Sir Roger Banister was knighted for this service. Under his aegis, there was a rapid increase in central and local government funding of sports centres and other sports facilities.

Sir Roger Bannister at the prize presentation of the 2009 Teddy Hall relay race. (© Pruneau / Wikimedia Commons)
Sir Roger Bannister at the prize presentation of the 2009 Teddy Hall relay race. (© Pruneau / Wikimedia Commons)

Now at the age of 85 Roger Banister suffers from Parkinson’s disease. It was one of the diseases he specialised as a neurologist.

By the end of 1957, 16 other runners also broke the four-minute mile barrier.

The International Amateur Athletics Federation, now known as the International Association of Athletics Federations recognized the first world record in the mile for men (athletics) in 1913. Since 1976, the mile is the only non-metric distance recognized by the IAAF for record purposes. Up to June 21, 2009, the IAAF has ratified 32 world records in the event.

Time Athlete Nationality Date Venue
4:14.4 John Paul Jones  USA May 31, 1913 Allston, Mass.
4:12.6 Norman Taber  USA July 16, 1915 Allston, Mass.
4:10.4 Paavo Nurmi  Finland August 23, 1923 Stockholm
4:09.2 Jules Ladoumègue  France October 4, 1931 Paris
4:07.6 Jack Lovelock  NZ
July 15, 1933 Princeton, N.J.
4:06.8 Glenn Cunningham  USA June 16, 1934 Princeton, N.J.
4:06.4 Sydney Wooderson  UK August 28, 1937 Motspur Park
4:06.2 Gunder Hägg  Sweden July 1, 1942 Gothenburg
4:06.2 Arne Andersson  Sweden July 10, 1942 Stockholm
4:04.6 Gunder Hägg  Sweden September 4, 1942 Stockholm
4:02.6 Arne Andersson  Sweden July 1, 1943 Gothenburg
4:01.6 Arne Andersson  Sweden July 18, 1944 Malmö
4:01.4 Gunder Hägg  Sweden July 17, 1945 Malmö
3:59.4 Roger Bannister  UK May 6, 1954 Oxford
3:58.0 John Landy  Australia June 21, 1954 Turku
3:57.2 Derek Ibbotson  UK July 19, 1957 London
3:54.5 Herb Elliott  Australia August 6, 1958 Dublin
3:54.4 Peter Snell  NZ January 27, 1962 Wanganui
3:54.1 Peter Snell  NZ November 17, 1964 Auckland
3:53.6 Michel Jazy  France June 9, 1965 Rennes
3:51.3 Jim Ryun  USA July 17, 1966 Berkeley, Cal.
3:51.1 Jim Ryun  USA June 23, 1967 Bakersfield, Cal.
3:51.0 Filbert Bayi  Tanzania May 17, 1975 Kingston
3:49.4 John Walker  NZ August 12, 1975 Gothenburg
3:49.0 Sebastian Coe  UK July 17, 1979 Oslo
3:48.8 Steve Ovett  UK July 1, 1980 Oslo
3:48.53 Sebastian Coe  UK August 19, 1981 Zürich
3:48.40 Steve Ovett  UK August 26, 1981 Koblenz
3:47.33 Sebastian Coe  UK August 28, 1981 Brussels
3:46.32 Steve Cram  UK July  27, 1985 Oslo
3:44.39 Noureddine Morceli  Algeria September 5, 1993 Rieti
3:43.13 Hicham El Guerrouj  Morocco July 7, 1999 Rome

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Hicham El Guerrouj is the current men’s record holder with his time of 3:43.13. And, Svetlana Masterkova has the women’s record of 4:12.56.

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← Previous: Part 2 – Breaking the Four-minute Barrier

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Roger Bannister: Part 2 – Breaking the Four-minute Barrier


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Myself  .By T.V. Antony Raj

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In 1948, Roger Bannister, then a 19-year-old student at Exeter College, was elected president of the Oxford University’s Athletic Club. He then wanted to replace the bumpy, uneven track with a new six-lane 440 yards (400 metres) track during his presidency. Two years later, in 1950, the new track was refurbished.

The year 1954 was Roger’s last year as a runner. He pondered on how to overcome the four-minute mile barrier. The first problem was to decide the venue for the race. He planned to break the four-minute barrier at the Oxford track he had helped build. Since the biggest gamble was the weather, he wished for a suitable day in April or May. The second problem was how to orchestrate the running.

The first problem was to decide the venue for the race. He planned to break the four-minute barrier at the Oxford track he had helped build. Since the biggest gamble was the weather, he wished for a suitable day in April or May. The second problem was how to orchestrate the running.

The second problem was how to orchestrate the running. He trained assiduously with fellow Oxbridge track mates Chris Brasher and Chris Chataway. Franz Stampfl, his Austrian coach, carefully coordinated their training. Roger realized that the two crises were the only pacemakers, he could rely on to help him.

The four of them evolved a strategy to achieve this ultimate athletic challenge. They used a mountaineering analogy. Their plan was for Brasher to take Chataway and Roger to “base camp” at the half-mile so that Chataway could then launch Roger into the attack itself on the last lap. This made both Chris Brasher’s pace judgment and Chataway’s strength and speed over the three-quarter mile equally crucial for success.

Then came the match between the university and the AAA. It was a run of the mill track meet like any other in Oxford. Yet, it was official enough to record history. Roger reckoned this event would meet their needs because there would be only six athletes in the race. Also, the small field would allow the trio to adapt the race to their needs. The Iffley Road cinder track was an ideal one. The only other factor was the weather over which they had no control.

On May 6, 1954, the wind had been blowing near gale force all day. Around 4:30 pm Roger Banister, Chris Brasher and Chris Chataway arrived at the track. At 5:15 pm there was a shower of rain. Afterwards, there was a strong gusty wind. Due to the chilly weather there were less than 1,500 spectators. As the trio warmed up, they knew the eyes of the spectators were on them.

The cinder track was wet.  There was complete silence on the ground as Roger Banister (#41) and his two running mates  Chris Brasher (#44) and Chris Chataway (#42) lined up along with other three runners from Oxford University. At that moment Roger saw the St. George’s flag on a nearby church drooping listlessly and decided that it was the moment to achieve.

The race did not start well as Brasher made a false start. After receiving a warning, when the gun fired a second time Brasher went into the lead as the first pacemaker and Roger slipped in behind him with Chataway in third place.

Roger’s legs seemed to meet no resistance as if propelled by some unknown force. He thought their pace was slow, so Roger shouted: “Faster!” But Brasher kept his head and did not change the pace.

Brasher (#44) leads Bannister (#41) upto the end of second lap . Chataway (#42) is behind (Source: racingpast.ca)
Brasher (#44) leads Bannister (#41) up to the end of the second lap . Chataway (#42) is behind (Source: racingpast.ca)

The first lap was fast enough at 57.5 seconds.

At one-and-a-half laps, Roger was still worried about the pace. Then, he heard his coach Franz Stampfl’s voice shouting “relax” above the noise of the crowd. Unconsciously, Roger obeyed.

Brasher’s halfway pace was perfect at 1:58 and Roger barely noticed the half-mile mark.

Chataway (#42) takes Bannister (#41) into the bell lap at 3:00.7 (Source: racingpast.ca)
Chataway (#42) takes Bannister (#41) into the bell lap at 3:00.7 (Source: racingpast.ca)

Sensing that Brasher was beginning to feel the strain, Bannister signalled Chataway to take over. Chataway took over on the first bend of lap three and led Bannister through the third lap in 3:07. The crowd was roaring. Roger pounced past Chataway, 300 yards from the finish.Chataway to take over. Chataway took over on the first bend of lap three and led Bannister through the third lap in 3:07. The crowd was roaring. Roger pounced past Chataway, 300 yards from the finish.Chataway took over on the first bend of lap three and led Bannister through the third lap in 3:07. The crowd was roaring. Roger pounced past Chataway, 300 yards from the finish.

The moment that changed the world of track running forever - Roger in at 3:59.4 (Source: thebounce.co.za)
The moment that changed the world of track running forever – Roger in at 3:59.4 (Source: thebounce.co.za)

Time seemed to stand still. The only reality was the next 200 yards of track under his feet. When he was just over 200 yards from the finish, Roger took the lead with a final burst of energy. The noise in his ears was that of the faithful Oxford crowd. Their hope and encouragement gave him strength. He had now turned the last bend and there were only 50 yards more. His body must have exhausted its energy, but he still went on running just the same. This was the crucial moment. His legs were strong enough to carry him over the last few yards.

Roger later recalled:

“With five yards to go, the finishing line seemed almost to recede. Those last few seconds seemed an eternity. The faint line of the finishing tape stood ahead as a haven of peace after the struggle. The arms of the world were waiting to receive me only if I reached the tape without slackening my speed. If I faltered now, there would be no arms to hold me and the world would seem a cold, forbidding place. I leapt at the tape like a man taking his last desperate spring to save himself from a chasm that threatens to engulf him.”

Roger Banister sprinted to the line in record time and fell exhausted into the arms of a friend. His vision became black and white. He existed in the most passive physical state without being quite unconscious. He knew he had beaten 4:00 before the time was even announced.

Then the announcement came from Norris McWhirter, delivered with a slow, clear diction:

“Result of Event Eight: One mile. First, R. G. Bannister of Exeter and Merton Colleges, in a time which, subject to ratification, is a new Track Record, British Native Record, British All-Comers Record, European Record, Commonwealth Record and World Record… Three minutes…”

The roar of excitement from the crowd drowned the rest of the announcement. The record time was 3:59.4 and the trio had done it! The three runners from Oxford were just specks on the track that day in 4th, 5th and 6th.

Bursting with joy Roger grabbed Brasher and Chataway and the trio scampered around the track taking a lap of honour.

Thus, Roger Banister broke the elusive four-minute mile, a barrier “like Everest – a challenge to the human spirit”.

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Next → Part 3 – Running the “miracle Mile” with John Landy

← Previous: Part 1 – The Aspiring Four-minute Miler

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Roger Bannister: Part 1 – The Aspiring Four-minute Miler


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Myself  .By T.V. Antony Raj

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Until the early 1950s, no one believed it was possible to run a mile in under four minutes. No matter how hard athletes tried, they were not able to break the four-minute barrier. For decades, the record lingered at just a few seconds over four minutes. That was until 1954.

Roger Bannister (Source: odt.co.nz)
Roger Bannister (Source: odt.co.nz)

Sir Roger Gilbert Bannister CBE was born in Harrow, England in 1929. He went to Vaughan Primary school in Harrow and then went to the City of Bath Boys School and University College School, London. He went on to study at medical school at the University of Oxford (Exeter College and Merton College), Oxford. And then Roger went to St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School (now part of Imperial College London).

Roger first enjoyed success as an athlete while at Oxford at the age of seventeen. He won several races in his teenage years. He trained lightly. After three weeks of training, he showed his intrinsic talent when he ran a mile in 4:24. Though selected to compete in the 1948 London Olympics, he declined because he did not feel he was ready to compete at that level.

Sydney Charles Wooderson MBE, dubbed “The Mighty Atom” was at the peak of his career in the 1930s and 1940s. He was one of Britain’s greatest middle-distance runners and known for his amazing sprint finish. He was slightly-built and bespectacled, but had great reserves of strength and overwhelming speed. On August 28, 1937, Wooderson set the world mile record of 4:6.4 at London’s Motspur Park.

Swedish runner Andersson finishes ahead of Wooderson inGotheburg in their second 1945 Mile race (Source: racingpast.ca)
Swedish runner Andersson finishes ahead of Wooderson in Gotheburg in their second 1945 Mile race (Source: racingpast.ca)

The great Swedish runners Arne Andersson and Gunder Hägg surpassed Wooderson’s mile record only after eight years.

The great Swedish runners Arne Andersson and Gunder Hägg surpassed his mile record only after eight years.

In 1945, Wooderson regained his old form and challenged Andersson over the distance in several races. Though Wooderson lost to Andersson, he set a British record of 4:04.2 in Gothenburg on September 9, 1945.

Wooderson’s remarkable comeback inspired Roger Bannister.

John Landy, Runner May 21, 1956 (Photo credit: Mark Kauffman - staff)
John Landy, Runner May 21, 1956 (Photo credit: Mark Kauffman – staff)

John Michael Landy, an Australian Olympic track athlete. He was running 4:08 miles in training. On December 13, 1952, in the first race of an inter-club meet during the 1952-3 season, he made an amazing breakthrough with 4:02.1. He ran the last three laps on his own. It was the third fastest mile ever.

John Landy made two more attempts that season. On January 3, 1953 he clocked 4:02.8 and on January 24, 1953 he clocked 4:04.2.

Each time Landy raced everyone expected him to beat the four-minute barrier. However, he declared that the four-minute mark seemed a ‘physical barrier’. But the 25-year-old Roger Banister, then a full-time medical student at St Mary’s Hospital Medical School thought otherwise. He reasoned if Landy could run the mile in 4:03 then it was only a matter of time until someone could do it in 3:59.

The humiliation after the failure to win the 1,500 metres gold medal at the Helsinki Olympics in 1952, when he had been the favourite, was a huge knock to Roger’s pride. It also shattered the hopes of his family, friends and the British public. Roger felt it necessary to restore the faith of others in him after his defeat. He resolved to be the first 4-minute-miler.

Roger followed a simple physical routine. He would go to the track, during lunchtime. Without any warm-ups, he would kick a few times to loosen his legs. After that, he would run hard for about thirty-five minutes. Then, he would shower and take his lunch and just head back to his studies.

He carried on with his training along with his medical studies. Using his medical knowledge, he trained alone. He purposely avoided the coaches and the managers.

With this simple routine, he reduced his mile time to 4:03.6.

Roger did not set any date to break the four minute mile. He was always conscious of the fact that John Landy of Australia might beat him to it. Landy made no secret of the fact that the four-minute mile was his goal.

There were four essential requirements to achieve his goal: a good track, no wind, a warm weather and even-paced running. For many years, track coaches and physiologists had scientifically plotted the method to break the four-minute barrier. They predicted that it could be achieved in Scandinavia where it was called the “Dream Mile”, in a 68°F weather; on a hard, dry clay track; with no wind; and a large, enthusiastic crowd to provide the psychological boost. According to the pundits, the first quarter would be the slowest and the final quarter the fastest. Yet, on the day Roger broke the four-minute barrier things were the exact opposite.

The year 1954 was Roger’s last year as a runner. He trained assiduously with fellow track mates Chris Brasher and Chris Chataway. He did not set any date to break the four minute mile, but he was conscious of the fact that John Landy of Australia might beat him to it since Landy made no secret of the fact that the four-minute mile was his goal.

For many years, track coaches and physiologists had scientifically plotted the method to break the four-minute barrier. They predicted that it could be achieved in Scandinavia where they called it the “Dream Mile”, in a 68°F weather; on a hard, dry clay track; with no wind; and a large, enthusiastic crowd to provide the psychological boost. According to the pundits, the first quarter would be the slowest and the final quarter the fastest. Yet, on the day Roger broke the four-minute barrier things were the exact opposite.

Next → Part 2 – Breaking the Four-minute Barrier

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Tea Act of 1773 and the Boston Tea Party


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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For thousands of years, indigenous peoples lived in the vast expanse of land that is now known as the United States of America. They developed their own complex cultures before the arrival of the European colonists. The Spanish had early settlements in Florida and the Southwest. The French settled along the Mississippi River and Gulf Coast.

After 1600, most of the colonists in these new-found lands were from England. By the 1770s, there were 13 British colonies along the Atlantic coast east of the Appalachian Mountains. About two and a half million people populated these colonies.

In early 1770s, the British East India Company was in financial difficulties. It held a massive surplus of tea in its London warehouses. The English Parliament presented the Tea Act of 1773 to help the struggling company survive. This Act was also promulgated to undercut the price of tea smuggled into Britain’s North American colonies.

The Tea Act of 1773 granted the British East India Company the right to ship its tea directly to North America. The Company also received the right to duty-free export of tea from Britain. Yet, the tax imposed by the Townshend Acts and collected in the colonies remained in force. The Tea Act received the royal assent on May 10, 1773. (See my article: The Boston Tea Party of December 16, 1773).

The colonies did not send representatives to the British Parliament. Hence, they had no influence over the taxes raised, levied, or how they were spent. So, they objected to the Tea Act. They believed the Act violated their rights as Englishmen in America to be taxed without their consent. They raised the slogan: “NO TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION.”

In September and October 1773, seven ships carrying East India Company’s tea set sail to the American colonies. The ships carried more than 2,000 chests containing about 600,000 pounds of tea. Four ships were bound for Boston and one each for New York, Philadelphia, and Charleston.

The Americans learned the details of the Tea Act only after the ships were en route. Whigs was a nickname for the Patriots, who sometimes called themselves the “Sons of Liberty”. They mobilized a coalition of merchants and artisans to oppose the delivery and distribution of the inbound tea.

The Whigs began a campaign to raise awareness about the implications of the provisions in the Tea Acts. They opposed the Acts which implicitly agreed to accept the right of taxation by the English Parliament.

Benjamin Franklin - one of the Founding Fathers of the United States.
Benjamin Franklin – one of the Founding Fathers of the United States.

Benjamin Franklin said the British were trying to use cheap tea to “overcome all the patriotism of an American”.

Benjamin Rush, a Founding Father of the United States from the state of Pennsylvania, urged his fellow Americans to oppose the landing of the tea. He said the cargo contained “the seeds of slavery”.

On October 16, 1773, Dr. Benjamin Rush, Colonel William Bradford, Thomas Mifflin, Dr. Thomas Cadwalader, and other local leaders and members of the Philadelphia Sons of Liberty organized a meeting at the Pennsylvania State House. They adopted eight resolutions. One resolution stated:

That the duty imposed by Parliament upon tea landed in America is a tax on the Americans, or levying contributions on them without their consent.

The most important one read:

That the resolution lately entered into by the East India Company, to send out their tea to America subject to the payment of duties on its being landed here, is an open attempt to enforce the ministerial plan, and a violent attack upon the liberties of America.

These declarations, printed in the Pennsylvania Gazette,  comprised the first public protest against the importation of taxed tea from England.

Samuel Adams -  one of the Founding Fathers of the United States.
Samuel Adams – one of the Founding Fathers of the United States.

In Boston, Whig leader Samuel Adams called for a mass meeting at Faneuil Hall. Three weeks later, on November 5, 1773, at a town meeting at Faneuil Hall the Bostonians adopted the same resolutions that Philadelphians had promulgated earlier. In their resolution the Bostonians declared:

That the Sense of the Town cannot be better expressed on this Occasion, than in the words of certain Judicious Resolves lately entered into by our worthy Brethren the Citizens of Philadelphia.

Colonial merchants, some of them smugglers of Dutch tea, joined the Whigs. They played a significant role in the protests because the Tea Act made legally imported tea cheaper. Also, the Tea Act was a threat to put an end to their smuggling business. Other legitimate importers of tea, not chosen as consignees by the British East India Company, also faced financial ruin because of the Tea Act. Most American merchants feared that this type of government-created monopoly might extend to include other goods in the future.

The Whigs convinced, and sometimes harassed the Company’s authorized consignees to resign. They successfully prevented the unloading of taxed tea in three colonies and forced the ships to turn back to England. They could not do so in Massachusetts.

The tea ship Dartmouth arrived in the Boston Harbor in late November, 1773. On November 29, a handbill posted all over Boston, contained the following words:

Friends! Brethren! Countrymen! – That worst of plagues, the detested tea, shipped for this port by the East India Company, is now arrived in the harbor.

That day Whig leader, Samuel Adams called for a mass meeting, at Faneuil Hall. As thousands of people arrived, the meeting shifted to a larger venue – the Old South Meeting House. The assembled passed a resolution, introduced by Adams, urging the captain of the Dartmouth to turn back to England without paying the import duty. Meanwhile, the meeting assigned twenty-five men to watch the ship and prevent unloading of the tea from the ship.

British law required the Dartmouth to unload its cargo of tea and pay the customs duties within twenty days . If the customs duties were not paid within that time, the customs officials could confiscate the cargo.

Thomas Hutchinson, the last civilian Royal Governor of the Massachusetts Colony..
Thomas Hutchinson, the last civilian Royal Governor of the Massachusetts Colony..

Royal Governor Thomas Hutchinson refused to grant permission for the Dartmouth to leave Boston without paying the duty. He convinced the tea consignees, two of whom were his sons, not to back down.

Two more tea ships, the Eleanor and the Beaver, arrived in Boston Harbor. Another ship, the William headed for Boston encountered a storm and sank before it could reach Boston.

On December 16th, the last day of the Dartmouth’s deadline to pay the customs duties, about 7,000 people gathered around the Old South Meeting House.

After receiving the report that Governor Hutchinson had refused to let the ships leave, Samuel Adams announced: “This meeting can do nothing further to save the country”.

Immediately, people poured out of the Old South Meeting House. Samuel Adams tried to reassert control of the meeting, but the throng headed out to prepare to take action.

Some donned elaborately prepared Mohawk costumes, disguising their faces, because of the illegality of their protest. Dressing as a Mohawk warrior was a specific and symbolic choice. In the evening of December 16, 1773, they boarded the three vessels – Dartmouth, Eleanor and the Beaver. Over the course of three hours, they dumped 342 chests of tea into the water.

Eventually, the Boston Tea Party proved to be one of the many courses that culminated in the American Revolutionary War.

 

Click on the image below to see video

Boston Tea Party - 02.
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The British English Slang: Q to Z


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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British English Slang Q to Z

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.Q

Queer as a clockwork orange: Very odd indeed; ostentatiously homosexual.

Queer Street: A difficult or odd situation, e.g. “up Queer Street”.

Queer someone’s pitch: Take the pitch of another street vendor, busker or similar; spoil someone else’s efforts.

Quim: Vagina (possibly a play on the Welsh word for valley, cwm).

R

Rat arsed: Drunk, sloshed; plastered; loaded.

Richard the Third: A piece of excrement (rhyming slang Richard the Third = turd).

Ring: Anal sphincter.

Ringburner: A curry; diarrhoea; painful defecation.

Roger: To copulate; to screw; to have your wicked way with a lady.

Rozzer: Policeman.

Rubber Johnny: Condom.

Rumpy pumpy: A phrase used as a euphemism for sexual intercourse.

S

Savvy (from the French, savoir): Knowledge; understanding.

Scally, scallywag: A hooligan youth.

Scarper: Run away.

Scouser: A person from Liverpool.

Scrote: Term of abuse, from scrotum.

Scrubber: A promiscuous woman (in Britain); a common or working class woman (in Ireland).

Scrummy: A word used to describe some food that was particularly good, and probably sweet and fattening.

Scrump: To steal fruit, especially apples.

See a man about a dog: What a person would say as an excuse for leaving, to hide their real destination, to attend a secret deal or meeting. This phrase is also used to excuse oneself to go to the toilet to shit.

Shag: Sexual intercourse.

Shagged: The past historic of shag; extremely tired, e.g. “shagged out”.

Shambolic: A state of chaos.

Shiner: Black eye.

Shitehawk: Someone of little worth.

Shit-faced: Drunk.

Shirty: Ill-tempered, insolent.

Shufti: To take a look at something. An old Arabic word, picked up by British soldiers during World War II, in North Africa.

Sixes and sevens: In a mess; topsy turvy; somewhat haywire!

Skanky: Dirty, particularly of a marijuana pipe.

Skew-whiff: Crooked.

Skint: Without money.

Skive: a lazy character; a useless person; avoid doing something.

Slag: Worthless or insignificant person; a promiscuous woman; a prostitute.

Slag off: A verbal attack; to criticise or slander; to bad mouth in a nasty manner.

Slap-head: A bald man.

Slap and tickle: making out or heavy petting.

Slapper: An oversexed female; a tart; a tramp; promiscuous woman; prostitute.

Slash: Urinate; urination; pee; piss; piddle; siphon the python; shake the snake; wee; having a jimmy.

Sling one’s hook: Go away.

Sloshed: Drunk; plastered.

Smarmy: A smoothy, who has a way with the ladies.

Snog: French kiss; any prolonged physical intimacy without undressing or sexual contact.

Snookered: Placed in a bad situation.

Sod: Annoying person or thing (derived from sodomite).

Sod off: Piss off; go away.

Spawny: Lucky.

Spend a penny: Use the restroom.

Spunk: Semen; ejaculate; courage; bravery.

Stag Night: Bachelor Party

Starkers: Fully naked.

Steaming: Extremely drunk; extremely angry.

Stonker: A boner.

Strawberry creams: Breasts.

Stuffed: Sexual intercourse, e.g. “get stuffed”; used negatively to mean bothered, e.g. “I can’t be stuffed to do that!”; having a full belly, e.g. “I am completely stuffed, and can’t eat another thing.”

T

Tad: A little bit.

Take the mickey: To tease; to mock.

Take the piss (out of), taking the piss: Messing and screwing around; making fun of; to mock.

Tart: A prostitute; a term of abuse for a woman; used affectionately for a lover; shortened version of sweetheart.

Tickety-Boo: Phrase that means everything is going well.

Todger: Dick.

Toff: A person belonging to the upper class; a posh person.

Ton: A large unspecified amount (18th century); £100 (1940s); 100 MPH (1950s); any unit of 100 (1960s), e.g. a century scored in cricket.

Tosh: total bullshit, nonsense or rubbish.

Tosser: Idiot; a derogatory term for a male masturbator; an affectionate form of address, e.g. “All right you old tosser!”.

Tosspot: Drunkard; habitual drinker.

Tube: The London Underground (19th century. Originally ‘Tuppeny tube’); Penis; a person (Scottish); a general term of contempt (Irish, 1950s).

Twat: Vagina; a term of abuse; to hit hard.

Twig and berries: male genitalia, the penis and balls.

U

Up for it: Willing to have sex.

Up The Duff: Pregnant.

W

Wacky backy: marijuana.

Wag off: Skyve; play truant.

Wank: Masturbation; to masturbate; inferior.

Wanker: Masturbator; Idiot; abusive term for someone the speaker doesn’t like.

Wankered: Very drunk; exhausted.

Wanking spanner: Hand.

Warts and all: Including all negative characteristics.

Wazzock: Stupid.

Whinge: Whine.

Whizz: Urination; to move very fast.

Wicked: Cool!

Willy: Penis (hypocorism).

Willy-waving: Acting in an excessively macho fashion.

Wind up: Tease; irritate; annoy; anger.

Wonky: Not right

Y

Yank: Septic tank.

Z

Zonked: Tired.

 

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The British English Slang: K to P


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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British English Slang K to P

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K

Keep your pecker up: Keep your chin up.

Khazi, karzy, kharsie: A privy; toilet.

Kip: Sleep; nap; bed; lodging; brothel (mainly Irish).

Knackered: Extremely tired; broken; useless.

Knackers: Vulgar name for testicles.

Knees up: A lively party or dance.

Knob: Penis (noun); to have sexual intercourse (verb).

Knob-end: Ttip of penis; an idiot.

Knob Head: Dickhead; an idiot; a stupid; an irritating person.

Knob jockey: Homosexual.

Knock off: To steal it, not to copy it!

Knock up: To wake someone up.

Knockers: Women’s breasts.

Knocking shop: A Brothel.

Know one’s onions: Knowledgeable; to be well acquainted with a subject.

L

Lag: Convict, particularly a long serving one (an old lag).

Lash: Urinate; alcohol.

Lashed: Inebriated.

Laughing gear: Mouth.

Leg it: Run or run for it.

Local: A public house close to one’s home.

Lolly: Money.

Loo: Lavatory.

Lost the plot: Gone crazy; become mentally unstable.

Lurgy: Sick; under the weather.

M

Manky: Dirty; filthy.

Marbles: Wits. As in, to lose one’s marbles.

Mare: A derogatory term for a Woman.

Mark: A suitable victim for a con or swindle.

Mate: Friend; chum.

Matelot: Sailor (derived from the French).

Meat and Two Veg: Euphemism for male genitalia. Also used sometimes to mean something unremarkable or ordinary.

Mental: Crazy; insane.

Mick: A derogatory term for an Irishman.

Miffed: Upset or offended.

Minge: Vagina.

Minger: Someone who smells.

Minted: Wealthy.

Mizzle: Decamp.

Moggy: Cat.

Moke: Donkey.

Monged (out): Severely drunk.

Mooch: Loiter or wander aimlessly; skulk.

Moolah: Money.

Moon: To expose one’s backside.

Moony: Crazy; foolish.

Morish or moreish: Need more!

Muck about: Waste time; interfere with.

Mucker: Mate; pal.

Muck in: Share a duty or workload.

Mufti: An old army term for civilian dress worn by someone who normally wears a military uniform. The word probably derived from the Muslim dress, popularly worn by British officers serving in India during the 19th century. Now commonly used to refer to a non-uniform day in schools.

Mug: Face; a gullible or easily swindled person.

Munta: Ugly person.

Mush: Face or mouth. Example: “shut your mush”.

N

Naff: Inferior or in poor taste.

Nancy boy: looking pathetic.

Nark: In a bad mood; grumpy (an old nark); annoy or irritate; a spy or informant.

Ned: A lout; a drunken brawling fellow; a tough guy. Sometimes equated with the English chav.

News: Looking pathetic; a bit of a Nancy boy.

Nick: Steal; police station or prison; to arrest; health condition, e.g. “to be in good nick”.

Nicked: Stolen; arrested.

Nob: A person of high social standing; head.

Nobble: Disable (particularly a racehorse).

Nod out: To lapse into a drug induced stupor.

Nonce: A prison slang for Sex offender, most commonly a child molester.

Nookie or nooky: Sexual intercourse.

Nose rag: Handkerchief.

Nosh: Food; to eat.

Nosh up: A feast or large, satisfying meal.

Nowt: Nothing.

Numpty: Incompetent or unwise person.

Nut: Head; an eccentric person.

Nutcase: An insane person.

Nuthouse: A lunatic asylum.

Nutmeg: In association football, to pass the ball between an opposing player’s legs.

Nuts or nutty: Crazy or insane.

Nutter: Crazy person; insane person.

O

Odds and sods: Miscellaneous items or articles; bits and pieces. Substitute for ‘odds and ends’.

Oik: A derogatory term for someone of a lower social standing.

Off one’s head or out of one’s head: Mad or delirious.

Off one’s trolley: Mad; out of one’s mind.

Off the hook: Free from obligation or danger.

Off one’s nut: Crazy or foolish.

Off to Bedfordshire: Going to bed.

Old Bill: A policeman or the police collectively.

On the piss: binge drinking to get totally smashed.

On the pull: Looking for sexual intercourse.

One’s head off: Loud or excessively, e.g. “I laughed my head off.”

Owt: Anything.

P

Packet: A large sum of money, e.g. “earn a packet”; a nasty surprise, e.g. “catch a packet”.

Paddy: A fit of temper; a derogatory term for an Irishman.

Paki: A derogatory term for a Pakistani. Sometimes used to loosely describe anyone or anything from the Indian sub- continent.

Paki-bashing: Unprovoked attacks on Pakistanis living in Britain.

Pants: Panties; total crap.

Parky: Cold weather.

Paste: To hit, punch or beat soundly.

Pasting: A sound thrashing or heavy defeat.

Pavement Pizza: A euphemism for puke or vomit.

Peanuts: Cheap.

Pear shaped: Become a disaster.

Peepers: Eyes.

Penny-dreadful: A cheap, sensationalist magazine.

Phiz or phizog: The face (from a 17th-century colloquial shortening of physiognomy).

Pickled: Drunk.

Pie-eyed: Drunk.

Pig’s ear: Cockney slang rhyming with beer; something that has been badly done or has been made a mess of.

Pikey: Pejorative term used, mainly in England to refer to travellers, gypsies or vagrants. Sometimes also used to describe people of lower social class or morals.

Pillock: Stupid or annoying person.

Pinch: Steal; robbery; sail too close to the wind (nautical slang).

Pissed, pissed up: Drunk

Pip pip: An out-dated expression meaning goodbye.

Piss up: A drinking session.

Plastered: Fully drunk.

Plonk: A pejorative word used to describe red wine of poor quality.

Plonker: Something large or substantial; penis.

Porkies: Old Cockney rhyming word for “lies”, derived from “pork pies,” which rhymes with lies.

Potty: A little crazy; looney; one card short of a full deck.

Puff: Fart.

Pukka: Super or smashing.

Pull: Looking for birds.

Punt: To gamble, wager or take a chance; to sell or promote.

Punter: Gambler; a victim in a confidence trick or swindle; a customer, patron or a client of a prostitute.

Pussy: Cat as in “pussy cat”, or in the fairytale, Puss in Boots; female genitalia.

Put a sock in it: Shut up.

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The British English Slang: D to J


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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British English Slang D to J

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D

Daft: Stupid.

Daft cow: A stupid person.

Darbies: Handcuffs.

Debag: To remove another person’s trousers by force.

Dear: Expensive.

Dekko: Look. Derived from Hindi.

Dick: Fellow; penis.

Dicky: Feel sick.

Dip: Pickpocket.

Dishy: Attractive; good looking.

Div: idiot (prison slang)

Do: A party; prosecute.

Do one’s nut: Get angry.

Dobber: Penis.

Doddle: Something simple or easy to do.

Dodgy: Suspicious; something risky, difficult or dangerous.

Dog: A fellow; a rough or unattractive woman.

Dog’s Bollocks: Awesome; extremely good; favorable; great; really fantastic. Sometimes abbreviated to, “it’s the dog’s”.

Dog’s dinner: Make a real mess of something; ugly.

Done up like a kipper: Beaten up; fitted up or framed; caught red-handed by the police.

Donkey’s years: For ages; a very long time. Sometimes abbreviated to, “donkey’s”.

Doofer: An unnamed object.

Dosser: A person who might stay in a dosshouse.

Dosshouse: A cheap boarding house frequented by tramps.

Dressed like a dog’s dinner: Wears clothes inappropriate for the occasion or too formal.

Duck: A term of endearment used in the North of England.

Duff: Useless, junk, trash; broken, not working; pregnant (up the duff).

Duffer: A useless person.

E

Earwig: To eavesdrop.

Eating irons: Cutlery.

End away: To have sex.

F

Fag: Cigarette.

Fag end: The used stub of a cigarette, and by extension the unpleasant and worthless loose end of any situation.

Fanny: Vagina; a woman’s front bits; female external genitalia; a woman’s pudendum.

Fanny Adams: Nothing at all. A euphemism for fuck all. Usually preceded by ‘sweet’ and often abbreviated to F.A., S.F.A. or sweet F.A.

Fanny around: Procrastinate.

Fence: A person who deals in stolen property.

Fiddle sticks: A swear word.

Filch: To steal or pilfer.

Filth (the): The police (derogatory).

Fit: Hot or sexually desirable.

Fit up: A frame up.

Flasher: A person who exposes oneself indecently.

Flick: The cinema; motion picture; film.

Flog: To sell.

Flog a dead horse: Try to find a solution to an unsolvable problem; to continue talking about a long forgotten topic.

Flutter: To place a wager, usually a small one by someone who is not a serious gambler.

Fly: Clever; quick witted.

Fork out: To pay out, usually with some reluctance.

French letter: Condom.

Frig: To masturbate.

Frig around or frig about: To behave aimlessly or foolishly.

Frigging: The act of masturbating; used as an intensifier, e.g. “You frigging idiot”. Considered milder than ‘fucking idiot’.

Frog: A derogatory term for a Frenchman.

Fruity: Frisky.

Fuck all: Nothing at all

Full of beans: To have loads of energy.

Fuzz (the): The police.

G

Gaff: House or flat.

Gaffer: Employer; boss; foreman.

Gagging: Desperate; not nice.

Gallivanting: Fooling around; horseplay.

Gander: To look around. Usually preceded by ‘have a’ or ‘take a’.

Gash: Surplus to requirements, unnecessary; a derogatory term used for female genitalia.

Gassed: Drunk.

Geezer: An old man.

Gen: Information.

Gen up: Do research; get some information.

Git: Incompetent; stupid; annoying; childish person.

Give you a bell: Call you.

Go down: To go to prison.

Go spare: To become angry; frustrated; distressed; enraged.

Gob: Mouth; spittle; to spit.

Gobby: Opinionated.

Gobshite: A stupid or despicable person.

Gobsmacked: Amazed; awed; flabbergasted; dumbfounded; astounded; speechless.

Gogglebox: Television.

Gong: A medal. Usually a military one.

Goolies: The male genitals and in particular the testicles.

Gormless: Clueless.

Grot: Rubbish or dirt.

Grub: Food.

Guff: Ridiculous talk; nonsense; flatulence.

Gutted: Really upset.

H

Half-inch: To steal. Rhyming slang for ‘pinch’.

Hampton: Penis.

Hampton Rock: Rhyming slang for ‘Cock’.

Hampton Wick: Rhyming slang for ‘Prick’.

Handbags: A harmless fight, especially between two women.

Hard cheese: Bad luck.

Helmet: The glans of the penis.

Hen Party: Bachelorette Party

Her Majesty’s Pleasure: Incarcerated; to be put in prison with no release date!

Honk: Vomit.

Hook: To steal.

Hook it: To run away quickly.

Hooky or hookey: Something that is stolen. Loosely used to describe anything illegal.

Hooter: Nose.

Horses for courses: Won’t work for someone else

How is Your Father?”: Euphemism for sexual intercourse or other sexual activity. Read my article “How is your father?

Hump: To carry or heave; have sex.

Hunky-dory: Excellent; cool and groovy; going according to plan; no worries; going well.

I

Idiot box: Television.

Inside: In or into prison.

It’s Monkeys Outside!: It’s very cold outside!

Ivories: Teeth; the keys of a piano; dice.

J

Jacksy or jacksie: The buttocks or anus.

Jack the lad: A young man regarded as a show off and is brash or loud.

Jack up: Inject an illegal drug.

Jag: A drug taking, or sometimes drinking, binge; a period of uncontrolled activity.

Jammy: Lucky; flukey; pleasant; desirable.

Jerry: A chamber pot; a German; a German soldier.

Jessie: An effeminate man; one that is weak or afraid.

Jism or jissom: Semen.

Jock: Word or term of address for a Scot.

Joe Bloggs: An average, typical or unremarkable man.

Joe Soap: An idiot; stooge; scapegoat.

Johnny or Johnny bag: Condom.

John Thomas: Penis.

Josser: A simpleton.

Jump: Sexual intercourse.

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The British English Slang: A to C


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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British English Slang A to C

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A

Absobloodylootely: Yes!

Ace: Awesome.

Aggro: Short for aggravation; trouble.

All mouth and (no) trousers: All talk and no action; a braggart; sexual bravado. (The inclusion or otherwise of “no” in the expression is disputed.)

All piss and wind: Only talk and no action. Originally the19th century phrase was, “all wind and piss”.

All to cock (or all a-cock): Unsatisfactory; mixed up.

Argy-bargy: An argument; confrontation.

Arse: The buttocks; someone who acts in a manner which is incompetent or otherwise disapproved of.

Arse about face: Doing something back to front.

Arse around: Mess around; or waste time.

Arse bandit: A derogatory term homosexual.

Arse over elbow: Head over heels.

Arse over tit: Head over heels; to fall over or take a tumble; embarrassing fall; to topple over. (Another version of arse over elbow, but a bit more graphic!)

Arsehole: The anus (a general derogatory term).

B

Baccy: tobacco, the sort you use to roll your own.

Ball bag: Scrotum.

Balls up: A bungled or messed up situation. (WWI Service slang)

Bang: Having sex.

Bang to rights: Caught in the act.

Bang up: To lock up in prison (prison slang); to inject an illegal drug.

Barmy: Crazy; nsane; a derogatory remark.

Barney: A noisy quarrel or fight

Bee’s Knees: Awesome.

Bellend: The end part of a penis.

Belt up: Shut up.

Bender: A derogatory term for a homosexual; a pub crawl; a heavy drinking session.

Bent: A dishonest or corrupt person; homosexual (mildly derogatory).

Bent as a nine bob note: Extremely dishonest or corrupt. A shilling (bob) note never existed and would therefore have to be counterfeit.

Berk: An idiot; stupid person.

Bespoke: Custom Made.

Best of British: Good luck, short for “best of British luck”.

Biggie: Term a child might use for his poo; an erection.

Bird: Girl; woman; jail time.

Birmingham screwdriver: A hammer.

Bizzie: Policeman (Scouse / Liverpool English).

Bladdered: Drunk.

Blag: A robbery (noun); to rob (verb).

Blague: Talking nonsense.

Blah (or blah blah): Worthless, boring or silly talk.

Blighty (or Old Blighty): Britain; home. Used especially by British troops serving abroad or expatriates.A relic of British India, probably from the Hindi billayati, meaning a foreign land.

Blimey!: An exclamation of shock or surprise similar to “My Goodness!” A corruption of the oath “God Blind Me”.

Blinding: Awesome.

Blinkered: Narrow minded; narrow sighted

Bloke: Any man or sometimes a man in authority such as the boss.

Bloody: Damn. One of the most useful swear words in English!

Blooming, blummin’ (archaic): An alternative or euphemism for the word “bloody”. Used as an intensifier e.g. “blooming marvellous”.

Blow me: It is not a request for services to be performed, but an exclamation of surprise. Short for “Blow me down”. It is something like I am so surprised you could knock me over just by blowing. Similar to “Knock me down with a feather”.

Blow off: Fart.

Blue: Policeman; a Tory.

Bo-Peep: Sleep.

Bob’s your uncle: That’s it! This is a well used phrase is added to the end of sentences like “… and that’s it!”

Bobby: Policeman.

Bod: A male person. Short for body.

Bodge (also botch): To make a mess of or to fix poorly.

Bog: Toilet.

Bog off: Go away (originally RAF slang).

Bog Roll: Toilet paper.

Bogtrotter: A derogatory term for an Irishman particularly an Irish peasant.

Bollocking: A severe telling off.

Bollocks: Balls; vulgar term used for testicles; talking rubbish; total shit; useless; nonsense; having poor quality.

Bomb: Expensive; going really well; really fast; to travel at high speed.

Bonce: Head, crown of the head. Also a large playing marble.

Bonk: To have sex

Booze: An alcoholic drink (noun); to drink alcohol (verb), particularly to excess.

Boozer: Someone who consumes alcohol to excess; a pub or bar.

Boracic: without money.skint.

Bottle: Have no fear; Courage after twenty pints of lager; money collected by buskers or street vendors; to attack someone with a broken bottle.

Bounce: To con someone into believing or doing something; to forcibly eject someone; swagger; impudence or cockiness.

Bouncer: A person employed to eject drunks and troublemakers.

Brass: Money; Cheek, nerve; a prostitute.

Brassed off: Fed up; pissed.

Brill: Brilliant; cool.

Bristols: The female breasts.

Bristol bits: Tits.

Bristol City: Titty..

Broke: Without money. Also ‘stoney broke’, or just ‘stoney’.

Brown bread: Dead.

Brown-tongue: Sycophant; toady or a person who attempts to curry favour with another.

Budge up: Move and make some space.

Buff: Bare skin Example: naked as in ‘in the buff’); having a lean, muscular physique (usually referring to a young man).

Bugger: As a term of abuse for someone or something contemptible, difficult or unpleasant; as an endearment, as in ‘you silly bugger’; as an exclamation of dissatisfaction, annoyance or surprise – Jerk, Fuck, Shit; to mean tired or worn out as in ‘I’m absolutely buggered; to mean frustrate, complicate or ruin completely, as in ‘You’ve buggered that up’.

Bugger about (or bugger around): To fool around or waste time; to create difficulties or complications.

Bugger all: Nothing.

Bugger off!: Go away!; Leave me alone!

Bum: Buttocks, anus or both; a tramp; scrounge.

Bumf: Derogatory reference to official memos or paperwork; toilet roll. Shortened from bum fodder.

Bumsucker: A toady, creep or someone acting in an obsequious manner.

Bung: Throw; bribe.

Bunk: To leave inappropriately as in to ‘bunk off’ school or work; to run away in suspicious circumstances as in to ‘do a bunk’.

C

Cabbage: A stupid person or someone with no mental abilities; cloth trimmed from a customer’s material by a tailor; pilfer or steal.

Carzey: A privy; toilet.

Chap: Male; friend.

Charver or charva: Sexual intercourse; a loose woman; someone with whom it is easy to have sexual intercourse; an easy lay; to mess up, spoil or ruin.

Chat Up: Flirt; try and pick someone.

Chav, chavi or chavvy: Child (from the Romany, chavi. Still used in rural areas).

Chav: white trash; a person who is, or pretends to be of a low social standing and who dresses in a certain style, typically badly or in sports clothing. Often used as a form of derogation.

Cheesed off: Fed up; disgusted; angry.

Chin Wag: Chat.

Chip shop: A carpentry.

Chippy: A carpenter.

Chuff: The buttocks; anus.

Chuffed: Pleased; proud.

Cobblers: talk rubbish; a load of bollocks.

Cock: Penis; nonsense; a friend or fellow.

Cockup or cock-up: Screw up; blunder; mess up; botch..

Codswallop: Talking baloney; nonsense.

Collywobbles: An upset stomach; acute feeling of nervousness.

Conk: The head or the nose; to strike the head or nose.

Cop: A policeman (short for copper).

Cor: An expression of surprise similar to “My Goodness!”

Cor blimey: An exclamation of surprise. It is a corruption of the oath “God Blind Me”.

Corker: An outstanding someone or something.

Cottage: A public lavatory.

Cottaging: Homosexual activity in a public lavatory.

Cracker: Someone or something of notable ability or quality.

Cracking: Stunning; the best.

Crackers: Insane.

Cram: Study hard.

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The Boston Tea Party of December 16, 1773


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj
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Without the Boston Tea Party of December 16, 1773, the American revolutionary war would not have taken place at all; or would have been delayed for many decades more.

Boston Tea Party - 01

Canada, France, and the United Kingdom use the name Seven Years’ War to describe the European and Asian conflicts, as well as the North American conflict.

The “French and Indian War” (1754–1763) is the American nomenclature for the North American theater of the Seven Years’ War fought primarily between the colonies of British America and New France, with both sides supported by military units from their parent countries, namely Great Britain and France. However, many historians and scholars in America, such as Fred Anderson like their colleagues in other countries refer to the conflict as the “Seven Years’ War”, regardless of the theatre.

The British distracted by the French and Indian war were losing control over their colonial governments that were increasingly vying for independence. The wars proved costly for the British. The Imperial Crown wanted to reestablish sovereign control over their colonies. At the end of the war in 1763, as a means of recouping the war expenses, King George III and his government contemplated on taxing the American colonies.

The Stamp Act (1765), the Townshend Acts (1767) and the Boston Massacre (1770) infuriated the colonists in America, straining relations with the mother country.

In the 17th century, Europeans developed a taste for tea and many companies in Europe imported tea from China. In 1698, the English Parliament gave the monopoly to the East India Company to import tea. Until 1767, the East India Company paid an ad valorem tax of about 25% on tea that it imported into Great Britain.

Soon tea became popular in the British colonies. The East India Company did not export tea to the colonies; the law required the company to sell the tea it imported to wholesalers at auctions in England. British firms bought this tea and exported it to the colonies, where they resold it to merchants in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Charleston.

The Dutch government did not tax tea imported into Holland. However, the English Parliament imposed additional taxes on tea sold for consumption in Britain. These high taxes impelled the Britons and the British Americans to buy smuggled Dutch tea at much cheaper prices. Soon England became the biggest market for smuggled tea. In 1760s, the East India Company was losing £400,000 per year to smugglers in Great Britain. At the same time, British America smuggled Dutch tea in significant quantities because they did not have to bear the 25% tax on tea which the East India Company paid to the British government.

In 1767, to help the East India Company compete with smuggled Dutch tea, the English Parliament passed the Indemnity Act which lowered the tax on tea consumed in Great Britain. It also gave the East India Company a refund of the 25% duty on tea re-exported to the colonies. This move reduced the price of legally imported tea. Even so, the colonists concerned with a variety of other issues protested.

To offset the loss of government revenue, the English Parliament passed the Townshend Revenue Act of 1767, which levied new taxes in the colonies. Townshend’s taxes rekindled the controversy about the right of the English Parliament to tax the colonies. This laid the groundwork for the American Revolution.

In early 1770s, the British East India Company was in financial difficulties. It held a massive surplus of tea in its London warehouses. To help the struggling company survive, and also to undercut the price of tea smuggled into Britain’s North American colonies, the English Parliament presented the Tea Act of 1773. This Act granted the British East India Company the right to ship its tea directly to North America and the right to the duty-free export of tea from Britain. However, the tax imposed by the Townshend Acts and collected in the colonies remained in force. The Tea Act received the royal assent on May 10, 1773.

To offset the loss of government revenue, the English Parliament passed the Townshend Revenue Act of 1767, which levied new taxes in the colonies. Townshend’s taxes rekindled the controversy about the right of the English Parliament to tax the colonies. This laid the groundwork for the American Revolution.

The Indemnity Act of 1767, which gave the British East India Company a refund of duty on re-exported tea to the colonies, expired in 1772. This left the Company in serious financial crisis. It held a massive surplus of tea in its London warehouses.

To help the struggling company survive, and also to undercut the price of tea smuggled into Britain’s North American colonies, the English Parliament presented the Tea Act of 1773.

The Tea Act forced the colonies to import tea only from Great Britain. This Act granted the British East India Company the right to ship its tea directly to North America and the right to the duty-free export of tea from Britain. However, the tax imposed by the Townshend Acts and collected in the colonies remained in force. The Tea Act received the royal assent on May 10, 1773.

The Tea Act allowed the British East India Company to reduce costs of the tea by eliminating the middlemen who bought the tea at wholesale auctions in London. In July 1773, the Company selected colonial merchants in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, and Charleston to receive the tea on consignment. The consignees would in turn sell the tea for a commission.

Nathaniel Dance Lord North
Prime Minister Frederick North

However, the Tea Act retained the three pence Townshend duty on tea imported to the colonies. Some members of the English Parliament argued that there was no reason to provoke another controversy since the Americans would not accept the tea if the Townshend duty remained; even so, Prime Minister Fredriclk North did not want to give up the revenue from the Townshend tax that primarily served to pay the salaries of colonial officials. He maintained the right of taxing the Americans was a secondary concern. According to historian Benjamin Labaree, “A stubborn Lord North had unwittingly hammered a nail in the coffin of the old British Empire.”

In September and October 1773, seven ships carrying more than 2,000 chests containing nearly 600,000 pounds of East India Company tea set sail to the American colonies – four bound for Boston and one each for New York, Philadelphia, and Charleston.

While the ships were en route, Americans learned the details of the Tea Act. Whigs (a nickname for Patriots), sometimes calling themselves Sons of Liberty mobilized a coalition of merchants and artisans to oppose the delivery and distribution of the inbound tea. They began a campaign to raise awareness about the implications of the provisions in the Tea Acts, namely, implicitly agreeing to accept English Parliament’s right of taxation.

The colonies sent no representatives to the British Parliament, and so they had no influence over the taxes raised, levied, or how they would be spent. Therefore, they objected to the Tea Act because they believed it violated their rights as Englishmen to be taxed without their consent. They raised the slogan:

“No Taxation Without Representation”

Colonial merchants, some of them smugglers, played a significant role in the protests. Because the Tea Act made legally imported tea cheaper, it threatened to put the smugglers of Dutch tea out of business. Other legitimate importers of tea, not chosen as consignees by the British East India Company, also faced financial ruin because of the Tea Act. Most American merchants feared that this type of government-created monopoly might be extended to include other goods in the future.

Governor Thomas Hutchinson
Thomas Hutchinson, the last civilian Royal Governor of the Massachusetts Colony.

The Whigs convinced, and in some instances harassed the Company’s authorized consignees to resign, in the same way the stamp distributors were forced to resign during the 1765 Stamp Act crisis. They successfully prevented the unloading of taxed tea in three colonies and forced the ships to turn back to England. They could not do so in Massachusetts. In Boston, Royal Governor Thomas Hutchinson refused to allow the tea to be returned to England. He convinced the tea consignees, two of whom were his sons, not to back down.

Dr. Benjamin Rush, painted by Charles Willson
Dr. Benjamin Rush, painted by Charles Willson

Benjamin Franklin said the British were trying to use cheap tea to “overcome all the patriotism of an American”. Benjamin Rush, a Founding Father of the United States who lived in the state of Pennsylvania urged his fellow Americans to oppose the landing of the tea, because the cargo contained “the seeds of slavery”.

When the Philadelphians received word that the East India Company’s tea shipments were on their way, on October 16th, Dr. Benjamin Rush, Colonel William Bradford, Thomas Mifflin, Dr. Thomas Cadwalader, and other local leaders and members of the Philadelphia Sons of Liberty organized a meeting at the Pennsylvania State House. They adopted eight resolutions, one of which stated: “That the duty imposed by Parliament upon tea landed in America is a tax on the Americans, or levying contributions on them without their consent.” The most important one read:

“That the resolution lately entered into by the East India Company, to send out their tea to America subject to the payment of duties on its being landed here, is an open attempt to enforce the ministerial plan, and a violent attack upon the liberties of America.”

Printed in the Pennsylvania Gazette, these declarations comprised the first public protest against the importation of taxed tea from England.

Samuel Adams -  one of the Founding Fathers of the United States.
Samuel Adams – one of the Founding Fathers of the United States.

In Boston, Whig leader Samuel Adams called for a mass meeting to be held at Faneuil Hall. Three weeks later, on November 5, 1773, at a town meeting at Faneuil Hall the Bostonians adopted the same resolutions that Philadelphians had promulgated earlier. In their resolution the Bostonians declared:

“That the Sense of the Town cannot be better expressed on this Occasion, than in the words of certain Judicious Resolves lately entered into by our worthy Brethren the Citizens of Philadelphia”

(fromResolutions Of The Town Of Boston, November 5, 1773“, Boston Record Commissioner’s Report, vol. xviii., pp. 142, 143; a draft of the preamble, in the handwriting of Adams, is in the Mellen Chamberlain collection, Boston Public Library.)

The tea ship Dartmouth arrived in the Boston Harbor in late November, 1773. On Monday morning, November 29th, a handbill posted all over Boston, contained the following words:

“Friends! Brethren! Countrymen! – That worst of plagues, the detested tea, shipped for this port by the East India Company, is now arrived in the harbor.”

That day Whig leader, Samuel Adams called for a mass meeting, to be held at Faneuil Hall. As thousands of people arrived, the meeting shifted to a larger venue – the Old South Meeting House. The assembled passed a resolution, introduced by Adams urging the captain of the Dartmouth to turn back to England without paying the import duty. Meanwhile, the meeting assigned twenty-five men to watch the ship and prevent unloading of the tea from the ship.

British law required the Dartmouth to unload its cargo of tea and pay the customs duties within twenty days; if not the customs officials could confiscate the cargo. Governor Hutchinson refused to grant permission for the Dartmouth to leave without paying the duty.

Two more tea ships, the Eleanor and the Beaver, arrived in Boston Harbor. Another ship, the William headed for Boston encountered a storm and sank before it could reach Boston.

On December 16th, the last day of the Dartmouth’s deadline to pay the customs duties, about 7,000 people gathered around the Old South Meeting House. After receiving a report that Governor Hutchinson had again refused to let the ships leave, Samuel Adams announced: “This meeting can do nothing further to save the country”.

Immediately, people poured out of the Old South Meeting House. Samuel Adams tried to reassert control of the meeting, but the throng headed out to prepare to take action.

Gadsden flag
Gadsden flag

mohawkSome donned elaborately prepared Mohawk costumes, disguising their faces, because of the illegality of their protest. Dressing as a Mohawk warrior was a specific and symbolic choice. As with the rattlesnake on the Gadsden Flag, the historical American flag with a yellow field depicting a rattlesnake coiled and ready to strike, and the use of the Bald Eagle as the national symbol, this displayed something specifically American overriding any traditional European symbolism. This gesture showed the British that the Sons of Liberty identified themselves with America and derided their official status as subjects of Great Britain.

In the evening, a group of 30 to 130 men some disguised as Mohawk warriors, boarded the three vessels – Dartmouth, Eleanor and the Beaver. Over the course of three hours, they dumped 342 chests of tea into the water.

Eventually, the Boston Tea Party proved to be one of the many courses that culminated in the American Revolutionary War.

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