If Americans have one grand political tradition, it is rioting.
There was a little matter of some tea in Boston in 1773, when men dressed up as American Indians boarded three ships moored at Griffin’s Wharf, broke open their valuable cargoes of tea, and dumped the chests overboard. They destroyed about 90,000 pounds of tea, worth about $1.7 million today.
New York City exploded dramatically at least twice in the mid-nineteenth century. In May 1849 more than 25 people were killed and more than 120 injured in a struggle over which Shakespearean actor was better: American Edwin Forrest or Englishman William Charles Macready. The Astor Place Riot, as it was known, was so violent the authorities started to worry they had lost control of the city. They called out troops, who fired indiscriminately into the crowd.