A Brief History Of Terrorism In The United States

2241 words - 9 pages

Ever since the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001 several new words have been created by or assimilated into everyday dialect. "Jihad", "Anthrax", and "Taliban" are now words which are part of every American's dialect, however, no word has reemerged more often than the one which describes all of the events of that day; "terrorism". While not a new word, it was not one thrown around all that commonly before 9/11, and as no word could better describe the actions of that day, it was the most popular word chosen by the media and the people for the acts of violence. The definition of terrorism is not a clearly described one however. The term terrorism comes from the French word "terrorisme", which is based on the Latin verb "terrere" (to frighten). The first use of the word dates to 1792, when the Jacobins came to power in France and initiated what we call the Reign of Terror and what the French call simply "La Terreur". One of the first writers to use the word "terrorist" in English was Edmund Burke, an opponent of the French Revolution, who in 1795 described the revolutionaries with "those hell-hounds called terrorists are let loose on the people". Since then the term has been far generalized. Webster's Dictionary describes terrorism as "The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons". Throughout the course of United States history several acts of terrorism have been used to make political stands, inflict fear into people, one even considered to be a domino in the chain leading to the declaration of independence showing that one person's act of terrorism is another's crusade.The first act of terrorism which took place on December 16th, 1773 shaped the United States and is possibly the most influential of all terrorist acts in the United States. In the contest between British Parliament and the American colonists before the Revolution, parliament, when repealing the Townshend Acts, had retained the tea tax, partly as a symbol of its right to tax the colonies, partly to aid the financially embarrassed East India Company, of which many members of parliament had been given stock in. The colonists tried to prevent the acceptance of the taxed tea and were successful in New York and Philadelphia. At Charleston the tea was landed but was held in government warehouses. At Boston, three tea ships arrived and remained unloaded but Governor Thomas Hutchinson refused to let the ships leave without first paying the tariff. A group of radical colonists led by Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, and others, disguised themselves as Native Americans, boarded the ships, and threw the tea into the harbor. This act caused Britain to blockade the Boston port, and would eventually lead to the Declaration of Independence and the Revolutionary War. While this act is not commonly regarded...

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