Boston Tea Party

By W.D. Cooper -“Boston Tea Party.”, The History of North America. 1789.Engraving.  Library of Congress. Public Domain,

The Tea Act of 1773 imposed a tax on imported tea, designed by the British Government to aid the financial failings of The East India Company. This was very controversial and unpopular amongst the people of the British Colonies. At the end of November 1773, the first tea ship of the season arrived in Boston Harbour. The locals refused to unload the cargo and demanded that it return home together with its cargo. On December 16, the ship was still in dock and a crowd formed at the Old South Meeting House, among its leaders was Samuel Adams. Angry, the crowd moved towards the docks and dozens of men boarded the 3 tea ships then in the harbour and dumped hundreds of chests of tea into the water. In Boston, it was seen as striking a blow for the liberty of the colonies. In Britain however, it was regarded as lawless vandalism. The consequences were hard as the port of Boston was closed until the city had repaid the cost of the tea and as a result of their action all power was taken away from town meetings and juries and placed in hands of the Governor. Changes were also made to the legal code which enabled people to be tried in loyalist towns regardless of where a crime had been committed – making prosecution more likely. Ultimately these acts drove an even wider wedge between the colonists and the British authorities and made war between the two more likely.

Copy of lithograph by Sarony & Major, 1846 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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