Tea Party, Shmee Party E-5

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32.079459° -81.083386° Season 1, Episode 5

Other coordinates listed are at the end of the page.

Boston Tea party, Boston shmee party.

Hey, Everyone     

What a fantastic day for a podcast.

Sometimes I have favorite stories about history.

In this one….. I start out by saying…

Boston Tea party, Boston shmee party.

Because here in Savannah, Georgia, in 1775, Andrew Elton Wells led a group of Liberty Boys, and they had a sweeter party…

The Savannah Sugar Party.

This guy, Wells, followed the lead of his brother-in-law, who had thrown his own party two years earlier – That was, of course, Samuel Adams, who… hosted, … the famous Boston Tea Party.

What… a… great legacy. A family that likes to party, especially at the expense of the British King!

But first!

I’m JD Byous.

Welcome to History by GPS, where you travel through history and culture, GPS location by GPS location.

You can find today’s position, along with the other sites mentioned in this episode at HistoryByGPS.com. That way, you can follow along on your favorite map app.

Today we travel to the edge of Savannah’s Trustees’ Garden, near the end of East River Street, where the GPS coordinates are

32.079459° -81.083386°.

As I said, Liberty Boy, Andrew Elton Wells, was the brother-in-law of a Boston Liberty Boy and malthouse owner, Samuel Adams.

Samuel Adams

Wells was also good friends with a guy named John Hancock, who, as you’ll remember, was the notable signer of the Declaration of Independence. If you’ve seen a copy of the paper, his name is the largest, right up there at the top, and in the center of the document’s list of those who supported the American cause… and his rather large signature was a cursive thumb on the nose at King George the Third.

Wells, Adams, and Handcock were all members of the Revolutionary organization, The Sons of Liberty, which was a clandestine political society before the American RevolutionIt dedicated itself to upholding the rights of American Colonists… who, by the way… at that time, were British citizens.

Wells’ family was in the thick of things.

His father, Francis, gave shelter to Adams and Hancock when the politically heated climate in Boston forced the two men to hot-foot it out of town at the same time, other patriots fired the first shots of the Revolution on the green at Lexington and on the old North Bridge at Concord, Massachusetts.

Now, Andrew Wells was a former sea captain who had settled in Savannah and had become a prosperous merchant who owned the only rum distillery in town. It was the base of the river bluff next to the East Broad Street Ramp. Those are the coordinates I just gave you.

See, sugar was a necessity and an absolute for making spirited beverages. Well’s problem was that he refused to pay what he called… an “illegal” customs tax, and in doing so, he directly defied the orders of Georgia’s Royal Governor James Wright.

Royal Governor Sir James Wright

The result… the Governor seized the “contraband” sugar and molasses. Part of the sweet stash had been loaded onto a British ship at the Dock, while more was impounded inside Wells’ warehouse that was connected to it.

Over the years, the area where the dock stood was filled in with dirt, so today’s water’s edge is about forty yards to the north.

When you go to the spot, you’ll be standing on dry land.. and you’ll have to watch out for traffic because River Street runs directly over the spot.

Now, as I said… the saccharine cargo in question was destined for Well’s distiller pot. But British lieutenant William Grant, the commanding officer of the schooner HMS St. John ordered two sailors to confiscate and guard the supplies.

With that, Wells’ booze business was doomed to – drip – to a halt.

His protest wasn’t just for the cause of liberty; it was also for the freedom to do business without harassment by the government. Something that today we find… not that unusual.

What the Governor’s order did, was inspired angry, thirsty Liberty Boys to liberate the barrels of euphoria-inducing granules and haul them away.

And what Liberty Boy didn’t like to drink? Remember, these guys used to hang out in taverns as they plotted a new nation.

Well… after dark, the Liberty Boys darkened their faces with soot, marched to the wharf, and on to the schooner St. John, which had eight cannons and only two men…

Who probably didn’t know how to fire cannons anyway.

A London paper later reported that on the night of February 15, 1775, a disguised and armed party attacked the wharf, threw the guards into the river, then tarred and feathered the customs official who was in charge of the barrels…

Giving him a painful and tickly suit to wear home…

…and then the group carried off the hogsheads of sugar.”

Okay, a hogshead is a liquid measurement equal to 63 gallons. That would be… let’s see…carry the 1…

238 liters to those who don’t speak imperial measurement lingo.

However, I always love to mention a much larger measurement… which is the buttload… as in, “I drank a buttload of beer last night.”

See, a buttload is a barrel that contains 126 to 130 gallons of beer or wine, depending on whom you’re talking to.

Whichever you use… it’s twice the amount of liquid that makes up a hogshead.

It comes from the Italian word, botte, that means barrel. I guess… like, bottle.  And I can tell you. Not even Liberty Boys, who were always tired and thirsty from throwing things and people in the water, could drink a whole buttload of beer.

If you find that interesting, you’ll love to hear that two buttloads make a tun, T-U-N, and that’s even more beer.

Root beer, of course… this is a family show.

One report said eight hogsheads of molasses and six filled with French sugar disappeared in the night.

So, in reality, they took a buttload… and a lot more?

One report claims that one of the guards who was thrown off the boat… drowned. I’m not sure if that was true.

Governor Wright was enraged and offered a fifty-pound reward for the names of the culprits as well as a pardon to anyone who would turn state’s evidence.

 There were… no… takers, and the contraband’s location was never revealed. Most citizens probably didn’t know when it was happening.

Only one hundred yards away, the soldiers in the fort at the top of the bluff did not hear the attack, so they could not deter the stealthy rebels.

To explain… the political beliefs of the Sons of Liberty were not held by the majority of citizens in Georgia. But, the dogged, unrelenting determination of the group would bind those of like mind into a major force against British rule.


I forgot to tell everyone about our books and merchandise!

The products that help support this channel.

You can find them at HistoryByGPS.com

And on Amazon by typing in J-D-BYOUS in the book category.

Buy one for yourself and one for a friend. Don’t worry… we’ll make more.

So, back to our story,

the Savannah Sugar Party wasn’t unique. Several cities had “Tea Parties” including Charleston, Philadelphia, and New York.

People from all of the American Colonies were ticked off over taxation because they had no representative voice to oppose the laws… there was no one in British Parliament to speak for them.

As a result… in combination with other British practices…. and British military leaders…….. the American Revolution started. And we all know the final result.

Through the actions taken by Wells and other Liberty Boys along the Eastern Seaboard, we now live in a nation where people from around the world risk their lives just for a chance to join us. This might not be a perfect place to be, but it’s a heck of a lot better than anyplace else on the globe… just ask the people clambering to get in.

As for Well’s sugar party… that was many years ago.

Today, the closest thing we have to Andrew Well’s sugar party are sweet drinks at the bar at the hotel that now occupies the site of the old Artillery Wharf…

I think it’s time to have a party. So, raise your glass and toast the guys who changed the world and gave the little guy a chance to succeed. I think they had a good idea.

So… if you didn’t already know this story… now… you know.

Remember to follow the podcast so you will be notified when new episodes come out.

And go to the website for more information!

See you next time.


See you next time.


Artillery Wharf, 32.079459° -81.083386°

Boston Tea Party, 42.3536 -71.0524

Lexington Battle Green, 42.449444, -71.231389

North Bridge at Concord, Massachusetts, 42.469028° -71.350671°


William V. Wells, The Life and Public Services of Samuel Adams, Being a Narrative of his acts and opinions, and of his agency in Producing and Forwarding the American Revolution Vol II, 1865.
Paul M. Pressly, On the Rim of the Caribbean: Colonial Georgia and the British Atlantic World,
Walter J. Fraser, Savannah and the Old South, University of Georgia Press, 2003.
F.D. Lee and J.L. Agnew, Historical Record of Savannah.

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