On This Day, December 16

On December 16, 1773, a group of Massachusetts colonists disguised as Mohawk Indians board three British tea ships in Boston Harbor, and dump 342 chests of tea into the harbor. The midnight raid, popularly known as the “Boston Tea Party,” was in protest of the British Parliament’s Tea Act of 1773, a bill designed to save the faltering East India Company by greatly lowering its tea tax and granting it a virtual monopoly on the American tea trade. The low tax allowed the East India Company to undercut even tea smuggled into America by Dutch traders, and many colonists viewed the act as another example of taxation tyranny. Find the Boston Tea Party at the library and on hoopla.



On December 16, 1893, the Philharmonic Society of New York gave the world premiere performance of Czech composer Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 in E Minor “From the New World” at Carnegie Hall. In his review of the performance the following day, New York Times music critic W.J. Henderson called the piece better known today as the New World Symphony, “A vigorous and beautiful work” that “must take the place among the finest works in this form produced since the death of Beethoven.” But in a review that ran close to 2,000 words, Henderson devoted perhaps 90 percent of his attention not to praising the artistic merit and craftsmanship of the New World Symphony, but rather to defending the controversial and ultimately political choices made by its composer. At a time when composers and critics in the United States were straining to identify and foster a uniquely American sound, the Czech immigrant Dvorak’s work suggested that the basis for such a sound was to be found not in the European tradition, but in the music of African Americans.  Find Dvorak at the library, on hoopla and in Freegal.



English novelist Jane Austen was born on December 16, 1775, the seventh of eight children of a clergyman in a country village in Hampshire, England. Jane concealed her writing from most of her acquaintances, slipping her writing paper under a blotter when someone entered the room. Though she avoided society, she was charming, intelligent, and funny, and had several admirers. She actually accepted the marriage proposal of a well-off friend of her family’s, but the next day withdrew her acceptance, having decided she could only marry for love. Her major works include Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814), and Emma (1815). She died at age 42, of what may have been Addison’s disease. Nearly 200 years after her death, she is one of a handful of authors to have found enduring popularity with both academic and popular readers. Find Jane Austen at the library,  on OverDrive and in hoopla.


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