I. Background:

A. Salutary Neglect & Taxation Without Representation
For almost 150 years, Britain had left the colonies alone, closely following the policy of “salutary neglect.” Parliament had not imposed any taxes for income during this period. Starting in 1763, however, the British government started collecting taxes for British revenue. The justification of these acts of taxation was that the money was used to maintain a British standing army for the defense of the colonies. Britain believed that the Americans should have to pay for their own protection, but Americans saw no need to have British troops in America now that the French and Indians had been defeated. Americans also believed that they should only be taxed by their own representatives, hence the phrase “taxation without representation.” (Griswold)
B. The Townshend Acts & The Tea Tax
As a result of the popular belief “no taxation without representation,” every Parliamentary tax that Britain tried to impose on the colonists during this time period failed. Colonists frequently did one or both of two things to evade duties: smuggling and rioting. (Griswold) In 1767, the Townshend Acts were passed, the most important of which was a small duty on imported lead, glass, paper, paint, and tea. (Pageant) Parliament finally felt obligated to repeal the law, with the exception of the tea tax, which was retained “as a mark of supremacy of Parliament” (Hibbert).
C. The East India Company – From Bankruptcy to Monopoly
To get around the tea tax, smuggling of illegally imported tea was common, especially in New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island, and it made a fairly big dent in the British East India Company’s tea market. By February 1773, the East India Company was on the verge of bankruptcy. In desperation, the directors of the company appealed to the King’s ministry for help. They asked Lord Frederick North, the head of the ministry, for a loan of one and a half million pounds and permission to sell their surplus tea to the Americans directly, without having to pay import duties, which would allow them to sell at much lower prices and undercut smugglers.
The company was granted all of these things and the East India Company directors began to implement the law. But instead of establishing warehouses in the colonies and holding auctions there, they decided to select “just a few regular importers, of established financial responsibility and known loyalty to the Crown, in each of the principal colonial cities: Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Charleston. To them, the company would consign all the tea expected to be marketed in the region; the consignees were then to share it equally among the themselves” (Griswold). This plan would essentially mean isolation for all other members of the trade except the chosen consignees. The East India Company directors gave no thought to how American tea traders would react to the sudden establishment of this monopoly. The combination of profit-threatened and principle-threatened Americans would eventually overturn the entire scheme. (Griswold).
D. Samuel Adams & The Committees of Correspondence
Samuel Adams’s most significant contribution was to organize “Committees of Correspondence” in Massachusetts, starting in Boston in 1772. Their main purpose was to “spread the spirit of resistance” and “keep alive opposition to British policy” (Pageant). By this time, Samuel Adams already seemed to have made up his mind that patriotic Americans should ultimately working towards independence from Britain. (Hibbert). Sam Adams and the Committees of Correspondence helped to fuel tensions and start organizing a form of protest – the Boston Tea Party.
E. Tensions Rise in Boston Harbor
Three East India Company ships arrived in Boston in December with hundreds of tea crates ready to be unloaded. Thomas Hutchinson, the governor of Massachusetts, ordered the ships not to leave the harbor until they had unloaded the tea. He even designated Loyalist merchants to market the tea at the harbor. (Minks) Funnily enough, Hutchinson agreed that the tax on tea was unfair, yet he believed even more strongly that the colonists had no right to protest the law. (Pageant) As the Dartmouth sailed in and docked at Boston Harbor’s Long Wharf, Sam Adams began to put together a plan of “‘dignified non-cooperation’ that would send a clear message back to the East India Tea Company: business would not return as usual” (Minks).

II. The Event

On the eve of December 16, 1773, the sons of liberty, a group of American patriots, dressed as “Mohawk Indians” as well as, African Americans and headed towards Griffin’s Wharf, a port in the Massachusetts Bay Colony (Draper p18).A long stream of events lead up to this uprising, the final straw a town meeting at old
Boston Tea Party
south meeting house where Massachusetts, Governor Thomas Hutchinson had just allowed three Tea Ships to remained on American waters. These three British ships, the Dartmouth, Eleanor and Beaver, from the British East India, company were docked in Griffin’s Wharf (The Story). “The men divided up into three groups of fifty men each, one group for each ship. With yells, whoops, and other battle cries, the men stormed the ships. Tomahawks were raised… and each chest was broken so that the saltwater would do as much damage as p

Griffin's Wharf
ossible” (Walker p9). “In three hours’ time, 342 chests containing about 90,000 pounds (40,824 Kilograms) of tea were ruined” (Furstinger p28). " The patriots worked feverishly, fearing an attack by Admiral Montague at any moment. Fearing any connection to their treasonous deed, the patriots took off their shoes and shook them overboard. They swept the ships' decks, and made each ship's first mate attest that only the tea was damaged.When all was through, Lendall Pitts led the patriots from the wharf, tomahawks and axes resting on their shoulders. A fife played as they marched past the home where British Admiral Montague had been spying on their work. Montague yelled as they past, "Well boys, you have had a fine, pleasant evening for your Indian caper, haven't you? But mind, you have got to pay the fiddler yet!"(Boston Tea Party Ship).

According to an eyewitness account by George Hewes,
“...The next morning, after we had cleared the ships of the tea, it was discovered that very considerable quantities of it were floating upon the surface of the water; and to prevent the possibility of any of its being saved for use, a number of small boats were manned by sailors and citizens, who rowed them into those parts of the harbor wherever the tea was visible, and by beating it with oars and paddles so thoroughly drenched it as to render its entire destruction inevitable”(Boston Tea Party).

III. Reactions & Significance

The first tea party was so successful that it was repeated. On March 7, 1774, the colonists dumped more tea into Boston Harbor. The value of the tea destroyed in both parties added up to an estimated $3 million in today’s money. This was a huge expense to the British and the East India Company, and the consequences led up to the American Revolution.

Thomas Hutchinson

There were many ranging views and reactions between the colonists and British parliament to the Boston Tea Party. The understanding and supporting colonists joined in and burned the tea leaves, referring to them as a "badge of slavery" (pg.132 Pageant). They felt tea was the perfect symbol to use because almost every colonist had tea as a staple in their diet. However, conservatives complained that the colonists were destroying private property and violating the law. They were afraid of anarchy occurring and the breakdown of civil society as they knew it. Thomas Hutchinson, a British official and the governor of Massachusetts who ordered tea ships to unload their cargoes before clearing Boston Harbor, retreated to Britain. He was disgusted with the colonies and never returned. British authorities saw no other option than to put the rebellious colonists in their place. They refused to swallow their pride and decided to punish the colonies, especially Massachusetts.

Boston Port Act

Parliament decided to pass the “Intolerable Acts” in 1774, or as the colonists called them, the “massacre of American liberty.” These acts included the Quartering Act, the Boston Port Act, and the Quebec Act (pg. 132 Pageant). The Quartering Act gave local authorities the right to lodge British soldiers anywhere, including private homes. The Boston Port Act closed Boston Harbor until damages were paid. The Quebec Act expanded the Quebec territory southward to the Ohio River, allowed the French Canadians to practice their religion and keep their old customs and institutions, and didn’t allow them to have a representative assembly or trial by jury in court. The first two acts focused mainly on punishing Massachusetts but the Quebec Act was more wide range. It shocked land speculators who watched all of that territory fall from their grasp, it stirred up anti-Catholics who didn’t want Protestantism to be eliminated by Roman Catholics, and it set a dangerous precedent for denials of jury trials.

September 1774, delegates from all of the colonies except Georgia met to form the First Continental Congress. They discussed what should be done about the intolerable acts and decided to boycott British goods
Lexington and Concord
using the non-importation agreements. This was to hurt the British economy and get the acts repealed. They also decided to support Massachusetts if the British decided to use force against them. Tensions continued to build and on April 19, 1775, the British and the Patriots confronted each other at Lexington and Concord. The “shot heard round the world” was fired and the Revolution began. The Boston Tea Party set in motion a chain of events that ended up leading to the fight against the British, and ultimately, the fight for American freedom. 

=IV. Bibliography

Boston Tea Party Ship & Museum. Web. 25 Oct. 2010. <>.

Burgan, Michael. "The Boston Tea Party." Google Books. Web. 24 Oct. 2010.

Draper, Allison Stark. The Boston Tea Party: Angry Colonists Dump British Tea. New York: PowerKids, 2000. Print.
Furstinger, By Nancy. "The Boston Tea Party." Google Books. Capstone Press. Web. 14 Oct. 2010.

Griswold, Wesley S. The Night the Revolution Began; the Boston Tea Party, 1773,. Brattleboro, VT: S.
Greene, 1972. Print.

"Google Image Result for of Lexington Concord.jpg." Google. Web. 25 Oct. 2010.

"Google Image Result for" Google. Web. 25 Oct. 2010.

"Google Image Result for Http://" Google. Web. 25 Oct. 2010.

Hibbert, Christopher. Redcoats and Rebels. New York: W.W. Norton &, 1990. Print.

Kennedy, David M., Lizabeth Cohen, and Thomas Andrew Bailey. The American Pageant: a History of the Republic. 13th ed. Boston: Houghton
Mifflin, 2006. Print.

Minks, Louise, and Benton Minks. The Revolutionary War. New York: Facts on File, 1992. Print.

"The Boston Tea Party, 1773," EyeWitness to History, (2002).

"The Story Of the Boston Tea Party Ships." Boston Tea Party Historical Society. Web. 14 Oct. 2010. <>.

Walker, Ida. "ABDO Group - - Essential Events." ABDO Publishing Company - ABDO Publishing Group – Welcome! Web. 14 Oct. 2010. < record@P398 CatID@GP CatID@GP>.