Fact Check

New American Tea Party

Protest against federal spending encourages Americans to mail tea bags to the White House.

Published Mar 12, 2009


Claim:   Protest against federal spending encourages Americans to mail tea bags to the White House.


Example:   [Collected via e-mail, March 2009]

Mailing Tea Bags to Washington, DC

What a wonderful idea, I just wish it had been mine. I have a feeling that USPS is going to have a hell of a lot of tea to contend with, after all it only costs 42 cents to send a message, hopefully heard round the world!!!

So please mark your Calendars

There's a storm abrewin'. What happens when good, responsible people keep quiet? Washington has forgotten they work for us. We don't work for them. Throwing good money after bad is NOT the answer. I am sick of the midnight, closed door sessions to come up with a plan. I am sick of Congress raking CEO's over the coals while they, themselves, have defaulted on their taxes. I am sick of the bailed out companies having lavish vacations and retreats on my dollar. I am sick of being told it is MY responsibility to rescue people that, knowingly, bought more house than they could afford. I am sick of being made to feel it is my patriotic duty to pay MORE taxes. I, like all of you, am a responsible citizen. I pay my taxes. I live on a budget and I don't ask someone else to carry the burden for poor decisions I may make. I have emailed my congressmen and senators asking them to NOT vote for the stimulus package as it was written without reading it first. No one listened. They voted for it, pork and all.

O.K. folks, here it is. You may think you are just one voice and what you think won't make a difference. Well, yes it will and YES, WE CAN!! If you are disgusted and angry with the way Washington is handling our taxes. If you are fearful of the fallout from the reckless spending of BILLIONS to bailout and "stimulate" without accountability and responsibility then we need to become ONE, LOUD VOICE THAT CAN BE HEARD FROM EVERY CITY, TOWN, SUBURB AND HOME IN AMERICA. There is a growing protest to demand that Congress, the President and his cabinet LISTEN to us, the American Citizens. What is being done in Washington is NOT the way to handle the economic free fall.

So, here's the plan. On April 1, 2009, all Americans are asked to send a TEABAG to Washington, D.C. You do not have to enclose a note or any other information unless you so desire. Just a TEABAG. Many cities are organizing protests. If you simply search, "New American Tea Party", several sites will come up. If you aren't the 'protester' type, simply make your one voice heard with a TEABAG. Your one voice will become a roar when joined with millions of others that feel the same way. Yes, something needs to be done but the lack of confidence as shown by the steady decline in the stock market speaks volumes.

This was not my idea. I visited the sites of the 'New American Tea Party' and an online survey showed over 90% of thousands said they would send the teabag on April 1. Why, April 1?? We want them to reach Washington by April 15. Will you do it? I will. Send it to; 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Washington, D.C. 20500.

Forward this to everyone in your address book. Visit the website for more information about the 'New American Tea Party'. I would encourage everyone to go ahead and get the envelope ready to mail, then just drop it in the mail April 1. Can't guarantee what the postage will be by then, it is going up as we speak, but have your envelope ready. What will this cost you? A little time and a 40 something cent stamp..

What could you receive in benefits? Maybe, just maybe, our elected officials will start to listen to the people. Take out the Pork. Tell us how the money is being spent. We want TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY. Remember, the money will be spent over the next 4-5 years. It is not too late.

Of course, if you agree with the way things are being done now, just delete!!!!!


Origins:   On the evening of 16 December 1773, a group of American colonists who called themselves "The Sons of Liberty" furtively boarded the ship Dartmouth, which was docked in Boston harbor with a load of East India Company tea. Working

through the night, the colonists dumped over 45 tons of tea into the waters of the harbor as a protest against the Tea Act passed by the British government. The event, which came to be known as "The Boston Tea Party," was one of the seminal events of the American Revolution and remains one of the most iconic moments in all of U.S. history.

In 2009, the iconic status of that event was referenced in the name of the New American Tea Party, described as a "coalition of citizens and organizations concerned about the recent trend of fiscal recklessness in government" who have begun coordinating events around the U.S. with the announced goal of protesting largesse in federal spending. The item quoted above seeks to take up the "Tea Party" spirit by encouraging Americans to mail tea bags to the White House on 1 April 2009 (in order to arrive by 15 April, the day on which income tax filings are due) as a form of symbolic protest against "the way Washington is handling our taxes." (The concept is vaguely reminiscent of a 1955 campaign that had citizens mailing small bags of wheat to President Eisenhower to encourage the U.S. to provide surplus food to flood victims in China.)

Of course, everyone is free to choose whether or not to participate in symbolic protests, so such actions don't have much in the way of verifiable "true" or "false" aspects — the only issue is how effective the chosen form of protest is likely to be. With that in mind, we offer a few caveats for those inclined to participate:

  • An entry in the New American Tea Party blog states that they don't endorse the effort:

    We have received hundreds of questions about an email circulating that urges folks to send tea to Washington on April 1st or April 15th. This effort is not endorsed by the New American Tea Party, so we can't answer any questions about it.

  • Given the more stringent security procedures for mail handling enacted after 9/11, there are no guarantees envelopes containing mailed teabags will get through to the White House without being discarded or significantly delayed, something also noted in the New American Tea Party blog:

    It is a neat idea, but things like that will likely either be held up getting scanned or end up getting thrown away due to security precautions.

    (A subsequent New American Tea Party blog entry suggested that just mailing the labels from tea bags might be a way of avoiding this potential pitfall.)

  • Envelopes that cannot be run through USPS sorting machines are subject to an additional 20¢ postage surcharge. A mailed item is considered nonmachinable if:

    • It is a square letter (the minimum size for a square envelope is 5 x 5 inches)

    • It is too rigid — does not bend easily

    • It has clasps, string, buttons, or similar closure devices

    • It has an address parallel to the shorter dimension of the letter

    • It contains items that cause the surface to be uneven

    • The length divided by height is less than 1.3 or more than 2.5

  • The specific aims of the tea bag protest are not clearly articulated in the e-mail quoted above, so senders might wish to include explanatory notes with their envelopes stating the desired outcome, such as: "I enclose this teabag as a protest against the passage of any further economic stimulus packages that provide money to businesses without provisions for strict transparency and accountability in how that money is to be spent" or "I enclose this teabag as a protest against the passage of any further economic stimulus packages that include earmarks."

Last updated:   12 March 2009


    Pickel, Mary Lou.   "Tea Party at the Capitol."

    The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.   28 February 2009.

    Idaho Statesman.   "Local Group Stages 'Reckless Federal Spending' Protest."

    27 February 2009.

    WJXT-TV [Jacksonville, FL].   "'Tea Party' Protests Wasteful Spending."

    MSNBC.   2 March 2009.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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