The excise man was the tax collector, whom many colonists hated. Sometimes these representatives of the British government would be painted in tar and covered in feathers by angry mobs, as seen in the case of John Malcolm. In January 1775, he became the first unfortunate British official in the colonies to be assaulted in this manner. They also are shown pouring tea down Malcolm's throat, as a direct reference to the special tea importation duties. Note the Liberty Tree in the background, which was an early symbol of the patriots.