In this new millennium marked by the looming threat of transnational trade deals like the Transpacific Partnership (TPP), The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA), one unusual trade adventure, Maine Sail Freight will embark on a creative, bold journey as an act of defiance against business-as-usual. When Maine Sail Freight launches its maiden voyage at the end of August carrying 11 tons of local, Maine-made cargo, the Greenhorns – a plucky band of young farmers – and the sailing crew of an historic wooden schooner are declaring their independence from corporate tyranny and re-invigorating sail freight as a wind-powered transportation agent of the booming local food economy.
And, interestingly, they will carry one freight item that has a long history of revolutionary potential: salt.
Over a hundred years before Gandhi’s independence movement kicked the British Empire out of India, the American colonies were roundly beating the same empire using tools of nonviolent action – noncooperation, civil disobedience, boycotts, strikes, blockades, parallel governments, marches, rallies, and self-reliance programs. The two independence movements even shared parallel salt campaigns.
Both the American Revolution and the India Self-Rule movement used salt as a tool of resistance and liberation. Gandhi’s 1930 Salt Satyagraha campaign is famous. The 1776 New England saltworks expansion is virtually unknown. Indeed, the well-organized, clearly identifiable nonviolent campaigns are often overshadowed by violence and war in the retelling of revolutionary era history. The research, however, testifies to the nonviolent campaigns pivotal role in the struggle.
Know your history, as the saying goes. The British certainly should have. In 1930, one hundred and fifty years after American Independence, Lord Irwin, Viceroy of India, commented on the brewing salt law resistance saying, ” At present the prospect of a salt campaign does not keep me awake at night.” Too bad . . . if he had stayed awake, studying the history of salt, colonial governments, and independence movements, he might have lost sleep . . . but he wouldn’t have lost India.