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“He will be hung out as a spectacle!”

pilot boat against a watery background

You remember the Boston Tea Party.

Delawareans of that time were equally pissed off about Britain taxing them without the colonists having a say of any sort in the matter: “taxation without representation”.

In 1773 a group of Delaware patriots formed to keep the East India company and its hated tea out of the colony. “The Committee for Tarring and Feathering” entreated—ok, threatened—Delaware Bay ‘pilots’ (think tug boat captains) not to escort any British tea ships up the bay and river.

1773 broadside warning delaware pilots not to help british ships
1773 Delaware Pilot broadside

“This you may depend on, that whatever pilot brings her into the river, such pilot will be marked for his treason and will never afterwards meet with the least encouragement in his business,” thundered the broadside shown here.

“Like Cain, he will be hung out as a spectacle to all nations, and be forever recorded as the damned traitorous pilot who brought up the tea ship.”

mannequin of a delaware pilot
Delaware pilot holds a monkey fist (used to add weight to a heaving line).

Sure enough, when a British tea ship arrived at Chester, PA, just north of the Delaware border, on Christmas Day 1773, a crowd of over 8,000 citizens in the area forced it to turn back without unloading its cargo.

History doesn’t tell us what became of the pilot who steered this ship into port, but we can assume feathers and tar were involved.

18th century tarring and feathering
Tarred and Feathered.

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