The Boston Tea Party was a significant event in the years leading up to the American Revolution. By 1773 tensions were mounting as British America’s relationship with Mother England became increasing strained. The British Empire has secured victory in the French and Indian Wars but had run up an incredible war debt. King George III and the British Government looked to taxing goods in the American colonies as a means to replenish its treasury. It was in this the passing of the Tea Act 1773 that ignited a standoff and brought the issue of taxation without representation in Parliament to head. As a result, the colonists took action and began overt revolt to British rule in the Americas (Boston Tea Party Historical Society). This paper will explore the incidents that led up to the Boston Tea Party and its impact on subsequent events leading up to the American Revolution.
The incident that has been termed the Boston Tea Party occurred on December 16, 1773, when government officials in Boston refused to return three shiploads of taxed-imposed tea to Britain. A group of colonists boarded the ships in disguise and destroyed the tea by throwing it into Boston Harbor (BTPHS). The Tea Act of 1773 essentially allowed one of Britain’s greatest commercial interests of the day, The East India Company, a monopoly over tea imports to all British colonies. Due to increased competition from the Dutch and the already high tax the Crown placed on tea, the East India Company had a surplus of tea. The solution that King George III and Parliament came up with was to force this tea on the colony (Knollenberg 93). Basically, a captive market was created for British products by the British Government. There was fear amongst the colonists that this could extend to products other than tea. The colonists’ actions and the government reaction widened an already growing chasm between Crown and colonists (Larabee 106).
During the years of 1754 through 1763, the British Empire was involved in The French and Indian War, a protracted conflict with rival power France for control of settlements in America. The French allied themselves with Native American tribes to rid the colonies of the British. At the end of this conflict, Britain was successful in securing the conquest of Canada. During this period of time, the thirteen American colonies flourished and grew increasingly less dependent on Great Britain. With the need to re-establish control over the Colonies and recoup their war costs, Parliament passed a series of acts to which did nothing but agitate the already frustrated colonists and further strain relations between the Crown and the Colonies (Cave 2004).
There were two major actions by Parliament that exacerbated the already strained relationship with the Colonies. First, the Stamp Act of 1765 met with significant colonial resistance. This act required that printed material in the colonies carry a tax stamp. These printed materials included: legal documents, magazines, newspapers and other types of paper frequently used throughout the colonies (Goldfield 144). Second, Parliament passed the Townshend Acts. These five Acts has the purpose to raise revenue in the colonies to pay the salaries of governors and judges so that they would be independent of colonial control, to create a more effective means of enforcing compliance with trade regulations, to punish the province of New York for failing to comply with the 1765 Quartering Act, and to establish the precedent that the British Parliament had the right to tax the colonies (Larabee 32-33). Both items created resentment and highlighted the issue of taxation without representation.
The Boston Tea Party event was not a singular incident and it had very little to do with the tea itself. The tea shipment became a sticking point between the British and the colonists as it was the taxation on the tea that was objectionable. The core issue of being taxed...
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