Vivid poster announcing the Boston Oil Party of Dec. 16, 1973

  1. Johnson & Co. (printer?), TEA PARTY! CITIZENS OF BOSTON! IMPEACH BIG BUSINESS TOO! [:] BE PREPARED TO MAKE HISTORY! DEC. 16, 1973. [Boston, 1973.]
Two-color lithograph on newsprint, 34”h x 22 ¾”w at sheet edge.
$2,750

A wonderful and extremely rare Fall 1973 political poster exhorting viewers to attend the Boston Oil Party and “impeach big business too.” Issued just as the impeachment proceedings against President Nixon were accelerating.

This poster is the rallying promotional for the December 16, 1973 Boston Oil Party, which called for both Nixon’s impeachment and the oil companies to pay for the energy crisis (whatever that means!) The event was sponsored by the People’s Bicentennial Action Center (PBFC), whose spokesman Jeremy Rifkin described the broader goals of the event as “to revive the revolutionary principles of 1776 and apply those to promote radical political change.” A crowd of some 10,000 gathered at Faneuil Hall for a town hall meeting, before marching along the route followed by the Sons of Liberty in 1773 to the Congress Street Bridge, where they dumped empty oil barrels in the Fort Point Channel and shouted “Down with King George! Down with King Richard!”

The overall design is strong and bold, with the both the language and imagery evocative of an earlier era. Front and center is an American eagle bearing a banner reading, “Our Rights and Our Liberties.” A rallying call appears at top, “Citizens of Boston! Impeach Big Business Too!” Two columns of text, printed in mustard-colored ink, read:

“200 years ago Bostonians struck at the heart of tyranny in a bold, daring, and defiant act! The Boston Tea party signaled the opening of the American Revolution. Now, 200 years later, a new tyranny casts its shadow over America! It’s time for the second Boston Tea Party! Come to the Congress Street Bridge on Sunday, December 16th, 2:00 p.m.! Bring your own posters, banners & effigies depicting modern-day corporate and political tyranny!”

Today of course the imagery and language of the Boston Tea Party has been appropriated by the political Right. Forty years ago the Left was doing the same.

This Boston Oil Party poster appears to have been designed and printed by J. Johnson Company, a large printing concern with offices in New York, Chicago, and Boston. The poster must have been printed in a very small run and, being on newsprint, the survival rate must have been exceedingly low. The only other example I have been able to locate is in the Labadie Collection of Political Posters at the University of Michigan.

References
OLC 909170508 (University of Michigan only). Some background from John Kifner, “Impeachment of Nixon Urged at Re-enactment of Boston Tea Party,” New York Times, Dec. 17, 1973, p. 26.

Condition

Minor wear and discoloration along old folds and minor discoloration along upper edge, but about excellent, particularly for such a fragile item.