Boston Tea Party
When the Boston Tea Party occurred on the evening of December 16,1773, it was the culmination of many years of bad feeling between the British government and her American colonies. The controversy between the two always seemed to hinge on the taxes, which Great Britain required for the upkeep of the American colonies. Starting in 1765, the Stamp Act was intended by Parliament to provide the funds necessary to keep peace between the American settlers and the Native American population. The Stamp Act was loathed by the American colonists and later repealed by parliament. (http://www.bostonteapartyship.com/History.htm)
However, the British government quickly enacted other laws designed to solve monetary problems. Each act was met with resistance. The Boston Tea Party was the final act of focused rage against a Parliamentary law.
The Americans were well organized to resist new financial demands placed upon them by the British Parliament. In 1765 the secret organizations known as the Sons and the Daughters of Liberty were created to boycott British products. By early 1773 the assemblies of Massachusetts and Virginia had created the Committees of Correspondence, which were designed to communicate within the colonies any threats to American liberties. In April 1773 the British Parliament passed the Tea Act, which allowed the East Indian Company to undersell colonial tea merchants in the American market. The stage was set for a confrontation. (Burns, B31)
In the first few months of 1773 the British East India Company found it was sitting on large stocks of tea that it could not sell in England. It was on the verge of bankruptcy, and many members of Parliament owned stock in this company. (USA, 1) The Tea Act in 1773 was an effort to save it. The Tea Act gave the company the right to export its merchandise without paying taxes. Thus, the company could undersell American merchants and monopolize the colonial tea trade. By October, the Sons of Liberty in New York, Philadelphia, and Boston threatened tea imports and pledged a tea boycott.
The Tea Act was incendiary for many reasons. First, it angered colonial merchants who feared they would be replaced and bankrupt by this powerful company. Second, the company chose to give exclusive privileges to certain merchants for the sale of their tea. Third, the Tea Act revived American feelings about the issue of taxation without representation. Lord North thought that the colonists would welcome the Tea Act because it would lower the price of tea to consumers. ( USA, 1) But, the colonists boycotted the tea. Large segments of the population supported the boycott, and it became common protest throughout the colonies. Various colonies made plans to prevent the British East India Company from landing its cargoes. In some ports, shipments of tea were returned or the chosen agents were forced to resign. (USA, 1) In Boston, the chosen agents were relatives of royal Governor Thomas Hutchinson and of course, they would not resign. Hutchinson made preparations to land the tea regardless of the popular feeling. Boston, a leading port city, where many important colonists were merchants, was a focus of colonial resistance to the Tea Act. It was also the home of the radical agitator, Samuel Adams, who staged a spectacular demonstration on the evening of) December 16, 1773. One hundred and fifty Bostonians, masquerading as Indians, made their way through a large group of spectators. They went aboard three ships, broke open the tea chests, and dumped them into the harbor.
The excitement of the event, and the details of the evening were later recorded by George Hewes, and eyewitness and participant in the event. He states that the tea was contained in three ships, lying near each other at Griffin's wharf. Armed war vessels surrounded these three cargo ships. The commanders...
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