The Story of the Pine Tree Riot
The Real Start of the Revolution
by: Brent Smith
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Practically everyone knows of the “Boston Tea Party”, that occurred in 1773. It is recognized as the action which began America’s revolution.
However, there was an event that predates it, although few have heard the tale.
When the first shipment of masts from Portsmouth, New Hampshire to England occurred, in 1634, England had already suffered deforestation. In order to dominate the high seas, new sources of abundant timber for shipbuilding were needed. No ships, after all, could set sail without as many as twenty-three masts, yards, and spars varying in length and diameter from the bulky mainmast to its subordinate parts.
Although New Hampshire’s white pine was not as hard as Europe’s, its height and diameter were superior. It also weighed less and retained resin longer, giving the ships a sea life as long as two decades.
When granting lands in America in 1690, King William prohibited the cutting of white pine over two feet in diameter. In 1722, under the reign of George I, parliament passed a law that reduced the diameter to one foot, required a license to cut white pine, and established fines for infractions.