March 22: A Tacoma dock strike and Bob Dylan goes electric
The Stamp Act Passed — 1765
On this day in 1765, the British Empire passed the Stamp Act in the American colonies. Basically, the British Parliament flicked the first big domino in a reaction that would, a decade later, result in America’s colonial rebellion and War of Independence. Oops.
Here’s the deal: The Empire had finally won the Seven Years War with France, but the effort caused them to…uh…"overextend" themselves financially. So they needed to hike taxes and/or create more of them. One of the new ones was a tax on all Colonial papers that needed a revenue stamp, a list that included magazines, newspapers, legal documents and more.
Apparently nobody in the Colonies liked the idea even one little bit. In fact, they freaked. That’s when you started hearing slogans like "no taxation without representation" being thrown around. There were riots, stamp-burnings and intimidation — to put it mildly — of British stamp agents.
To cut to the chase, there was enough of a ruckus that Parliament repealed the Stamp Act the next year. But to make sure that the American dominos of discontent continued to topple, they simultaneously passed the Declaratory Act, which basically said, “Don’t get any big ideas. We’ll still tax your Yankee arses whenever we feel like it.” It didn’t go over very well at all, as we now have very good cause to know.
Tacoma longshoreman strike — 1886
Bringing discontent a little closer to home, today is also the day that a Tacoma Longshoreman strike began on the Tacoma docks in 1886. The workers demanded another dime per hour for their backbreaking labor. That dime would equal a tad over three bucks today.
Management, of course, immediately tried to hire scabs to come do the work. But while the companies sent a pokey steamship from Tacoma to Seattle to try to hire and transport workers, the strikers sent telegrams to all the Puget Sound ports informing their fellow laborers of their strike. Of course, the telegrams beat the steamships handily, so nobody showed up in Tacoma to break their strike. Thank you, technology.
The strike lasted five days, the strikers got the wage-hike they demanded and the Stevedores, Longshoremen and Riggers Union of Puget Sound was formed. So, there.
Bob Dylan gets electrified — 1965
This is also the day that, in 1965, Columbia Records released Bob Dylan’s fifth album, Bringing It All Back Home. It caused a bit of stir among fans because, although side two featured the Dylan they all knew and loved, performing solo acoustic material, side one featured Dylan rockin’ out, backed by an electric band.
What? The darling of folk music playing rock ‘n roll? Say it ain’t so, Bob.
It became the first Bob Dylan album to enter the American Top 10, so more people loved it than hated it but Dylan probably wasn’t worried one way or the other. He was on a tear. This album was released in March; his single, "Like A Rolling Stone" was released in July and five days after that, he had a generation of folkies clutching their pearls when he brought an electric band with him to the stage of the Newport Folk Festival. So there seemed to be an agenda at play.