Thomas Young Distracts The Crowd...So His Friends Can Tea Party
Thomas Young was an important player in the Boston Tea Party.
Young was one of the most active and vocal rebels in favor of independence from the very beginning of hostilities with Great Britain.
Thomas Young began his career as a Physician’s Assistant and, after the apprenticeship, opened his own office in Upstate New York.
Living on the Connecticut border, Thomas became friends with a young Ethan Allen. The two had many philosophical conversations and Young convinced Allen to become a Deist. These men would right a book together, but it would not receive publication until after Young’s death.
Young also believed strongly in the benefits of the smallpox inoculation. Although it was illegal to take the vaccine, Young inoculated Allen in public to prove its feasibility.
Thomas Young, ever the skeptic, became a vocal rebel in the quickly arriving Revolutionary Movement. He briefly relocated to Albany where he assisted in creating that city’s Sons of Liberty in response to the Stamp Act.
The following year Young moved again, this time to Boston. He opened a new practice and severed many of the wealthy families in Massachusetts, even including future President John Adams.
The Boston Tea Party
In 1773, Thomas played an active role in the Boston Tea Party.
Several doctors at the time, Young included, began to speak about the health effects of tea. They promoted the idea that (on top of the taxes) tea could slowly weaken your immune system.
Young was giving a speech on this very subject in the Old South Meeting House when the ‘partiers’ showed up and began dumping the tea into the ocean. It is extremely likely that Thomas organized the Tea Party and this oration served the duel purpose of distracting the guards and townspeople as well as giving him an alibi.
The following year, Young moved to Philadelphia where he was an early promoter of independence.
Thomas pushed on Pennsylvania to elected delegates to the Continental Congress who would vote for separation. He also assisted in writing the State’s first Constitution.
Additionally, Young seems to have given Vermont its name. In a letter to the men writing its Constitution, he recommended combining the French words for Green Mountain (Vert Mont).
After independence had been declared, Young was chosen as Senior Surgeon to the Continental Hospital in Philadelphia. Though he immediately set about his duties, Thomas caught an extreme fever and passed away shortly thereafter, ending one of the more extraordinary (if lesser known) lives of the American Revolution.
For some reason, I have never been able to find a full fledged biography of Dr. Thomas Young. His most famous book ‘Reason, the Only Oracle of Man’ can be picked up through the affiliate link below (or read online for free here). It is credited solely to Ethan Allen but Young was most definitely a coauthor.
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