I laughed at the bumper sticker I spotted yesterday during the Invitation Night here in Newburyport. It certainly could be applied to politics and our society on many different levels; but in respect to this blog entry, I’m thinking about how many things we assume (that includes me) about history which simply aren’t so! And yet, if you discover the truth, and try to share it; people stare at you as if you’re a touch crazy; or delusional.
As some may know from reading my blogs; while I am primarily concerned about enhancing and promoting Newburyport; I’ve been trying to pin down much historically significant facts about our ancient port; and the most illusive has to do with the smuggler tunnels.
I’ve written much and in fact, have enough to soon have an entire link on the subject on http://www.ppreservationist.com. Due to electioneering, excessive overtime, and being bit by a brown-recluse spider on the Common Pasture trails (What is a deadly-poisonous Brazilian spider doing in New England!?!); have had to curtail my physical exploration – but have not stopped the research. I am trying to figure out how it is possible for a deeply religious city, and a heavy mercantile center; to justify large-scale smuggling which would make possible such an elaborate tunnel system. (if it exists as the historical narrative insists)
To most of us, Newburyport just doesn’t seem the place where this could happen. The citizens continually prided themselves as being upright, principled and deeply ethical human beings – and this continued to lie deep in the blood-line of the community even beyond the beginning of the twentieth century.
I purchased and have been reading Peter Andrea’s book Smuggler Nation, which has a rather controversial subtitle, “How illicit Trade made America”. I’ve only covered the colonial and early Republic sections of the book and haven’t even reached the time span of when the tunnels would have been supposedly built, but I’ve been absolutely aghast.
NEWBURYPORT WAS ALL ABOUT SMUGGLING WHETHER COMMITTING IT OR PREVENTING IT SINCE ITS VERY BEGINNING.
There was a reason why the first revenue cutter was built here and not somewhere else.
It literally has caused the scales to fall off my eyes and to see quite clearly that our very wealth, indeed most of New England’s, had to do with smuggling.
We have to be careful not to blow the practice out of proportion but it certainly contributed to the birth of our nation back in the late 18th century. I was told based on the tunnel narrative that such an underground creation was an act of desperation – done by suddenly impoverished amateurs trying to keep their heads above financial waters. In actual truth; it was a well-practiced art as early as the 1700’s. In fact, a much celebrated court case against John Hancock (famed smuggler) occurred in 1733 and was deeply indicting to New England port cities such as Newburyport.
Next weekend, I will go into detail as to how well-practiced the merchants of Newburyport were in smuggling.
I’ll give you a little hint: “think of a triangle”
“A truth’s initial commotion is directly proportional to how deeply the lie was believed. It wasn’t the world being round that agitated people, but that the world wasn’t flat. When a well-packaged web of lies has been sold gradually to the masses over generations, the truth will seem utterly preposterous and its speaker a raving lunatic.”