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Behind the Design: Death To Tyranny!


Up until the mid-1700’s, the American colonists were happy to be subjects of the British crown. For the most part, the government on the other side of the Atlantic was a peripheral part of life, but could be relied on in times of trouble. However, as the British Empire sought more expansion and more wealth, it started to impress itself upon its people in its colonies. One method was through taxes, which were not also applied to the subjects living in England. Another was through edicts requiring the colonists to provide shelter to the soldiers of the British Army in their own homes and food from their own tables – taking away the colonists’ right to private lives and private resources.

How the crown and the parliament in England could fail to see the result of these policies defies common sense.

By the time the Stamp Act was handed down in 1765, requiring all reading materials (newspapers, brochures, books, etc) to be printed on paper that was taxed (as noted by a stamp on each), people in the colonies were becoming fed up. As a protest, many newspaper publishers used the image of a skull and crossbones in their mastheads to mark the area where the stamp would be placed.Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law’ because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual. – Thomas Jefferson

Of course, the printed protest of newspapers paled in comparison to the protests and demonstrations largely organized by the Sons of Liberty, such as parades, the practice of subjecting tax collectors to being tarred and feathered, and other violent protests. Ultimately it was the colonies unity in not importing goods made in England that had the desired effect of the repeal of the Stamp Act, but with the repeal came The Declaratory Act that, in its purposeful vagueness, implied [correctly] that Parliament would be issuing more laws for the colonies or could change the system of government itself in the colonies.

The skull and crossbones continued to make appearances on the mastheads of colonial newspapers, and the images of crowns were used to identify items from Britain or associated with the monarchy came to be associated with the tyranny the colonists found themselves fighting. It would be only natural to combine the two to imply a “death to tyranny” or “death to tyrants”.

Today we also find ourselves under a repressive government, one that works for its own goals (or that of the U.N.) rather than for those of the people. The citizens of most western countries find themselves buried under unsustainable debt, and the edges are beginning to give. We must rise up and tell the political class that we are capable of providing for ourselves, if they would only get out of the way, and that we don’t want their “freebies”(which are never free) in exchange for our votes.

Our shirts, as shown below, combine actual images from the Revolutionary War period of the skull/crossbones and a crown. These are the first in a series, and we offer the emblem in a traditional setting as well as a more contemporary vertical design with an offset placement. 

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