Boston Tea Party (1773) Protest by a group of Massachusetts colonists, disguised as Mohawks and led by Samuel Adams, against the Tea Act and, more generally, against “taxation without representation”. The Tea Act (1773), passed by the British Parliament, withdrew duty on tea exported to the colonies. It enabled the East India Company to sell tea directly to the colonies without first going to Britain and resulted in colonial merchants being undersold. The protesters boarded three British ships and threw their cargo of tea into Boston harbor. The British retaliated by closing the harbor.
Boston Tea Party Facts
- Over three hundred cases of English tea were thrown into the harbor in Boston on December 16, 1773. Three ships that were docked at the harbor had the tea on board when a group of American colonists decided to dump the tea as a protest for their independence.
- Some of the colonists dressed up as Indians and sneaked on board to carry out this act of protest against taxes. The colonists were supposedly dressed as Mohawk Indians.
- According to one participant memoirs, they never dressed as Indians. This participant was Ebenezer Stevens who was about twenty- years-old at the time.
- The governor of Boston, also British, decided that until taxes were paid on the tea; the ships with the tea on board would sit in the harbor.
- The first published account of the Boston Tea Party (BTP) was from Joshua Wyeth who was 16 at the time of his participation.
- The Americans relied on smuggled goods during their boycott of British goods. They also used any substitutes they could find such as Labrador tea that was made from plants that grew in the colonies. They refused to be taxed on goods from Britain. The also had a problem with Britain deciding how the tax money should be used.
- Instead of the three ships that reported to be coming to Boston, there were four. Beaver, Dartmouth and Eleanor arrived at the Harbor, but the fourth ship, William, never arrived because it had run aground near Cape Cod and was stranded there.
- The location previously thought to be where the tea party incident occurred, the official Boston Tea Party ship museum, has been changed to the intersection of Congress and Purchase streets. This was because of the landfill projects that had been going on in the Boston Harbor. Finding out that the projects were so huge, it brought about the thought that it could not possibly have been where the Tea Party had happened.
- The original list that had been put together held Thomas Young as one of the participants in the dumping of the Tea. But historic documents have Thomas Young lecturing an audience on the medicinal risks of drinking tea when the incident occurred, so even though he was a suspect, it could not be proven that he planned or participated.
- Tea smuggling became a growing business in Britain also. This came about because of the same problems with East India being the only legal importer of tea so many of the British citizens turned to tea smugglers to purchase their tea also.
- After the dumping, protesters swept the docks clean. Even though the protest sounded to be a violent one, it was not. It took a while for anyone to realize what had been done because nothing had been destroyed except the tea being dumped. The realization came that something had happened when a new lock was sent to the captain to replace one that had been broken.
- The tea that was destroyed did not come from India as originally thought, but from China and was a Bohea type of tea.
- The Suns of Liberty had a British spy as one of it main leaders, so most of the protesters had to leave Boston after the dumping.
- The Beaver and the Dartmouth once thought to be British ships were, in fact, ships owned by a family name Rotch from Nantucket. Their offices were located where what is now called the Pacific Club.
- The last known survivor of the Boston Tea Party lived to be 115 years old and was photographed. His name was David Kinnison.