Before we jump right into it, let us go through a bit of a background so that we understand the concept and the sentiment of people. The Boston Tea Party was essentially a big, fat “go to hell” against the Tea Act of 1773. What was this Tea Act, you ask? Well, the Tea Act was passed by the Parliament of Great Britain in the year 1773. It was directed towards decreasing the mammoth amounts of tea held by the British East India Company, which was running losses.
Without going into complicated details, this Act essentially gave the EIC monopoly to sell their unsold tea in British colonies in America, and even allowed them exemption from export taxes. Since this exported tea was only handled by the EIC, it bypassed the independent colonial merchants and sellers and was capable of underselling anyone else. What the colonists hated about this act- besides the obvious monopoly- was not the fact that is saved the East India Company. What set them off on the wrong foot was that this Act was in some way further validating the Townshend Act of 1767.
Now this particular Act allowed the British to impose taxes on various kinds of items that were imported into their colonies situated in America. Patriots did not dislike this Act because of the prices, as much they hated it on the basis of principle. You see, members of American colonies were disallowed from becoming representatives in the British Parliament. It just seemed grossly unjust and rather unconstitutional for the English Parliament to enforce laws on them without any kind of representation.
So, one thing is connected to another, which is connected to another. The crux of the whole issue was that the Tea Act of 1773 was the last straw for the colonists after having tolerated a slew of unjust, repressive laws enforced upon them by the British.
Why was Boston chosen for the protest?
Essentially because merchants in cities like Philadelphia and New York quit their jobs, canceled orders, outright refused any kind of consignments. In Boston, however, royal governor Thomas Hutchinson was hell bent on upholding the law. He ordered for the three ships- namely, The Dartmouth, The Eleanor, and The Beaver- full of chests containing tea to discharge their cargo and for the application of the respective duties (taxes, or revenue).
The Boston Tea Party date, known by everyone to be December 16, 1773, was an integral part of the history of the United States of America, so much so that there is an entire museum dedicated to this one event. It is called the Boston Tea Party Museum.
What happened at the Boston Tea Party?
Coming back to the Boston Tea Party, it was on this day of December 16, that the Sons of Liberty, lead by Samuel Adams, joined forces with the conservative colonist independent tea merchants and shippers to showcase their distaste for the Tea Act and all others that preceded it. On the Boston Tea Party date, about 60 men, guised as mohawk Indians with the help of draped blankets and appropriate headdresses, cheered on by a huge number of Bostonians, approached the Griffin wharf, and boarded the three ships at midnight.
There were 342 chests filled with tea aboard the ships, and about 92,000 pounds (roughly around 45 tons) of tea, if we were to go by weight. This raid, which had come to be known as the Boston Tea Party, found the protestors and American patriots dumping all that tea, worth 18,000 euros (approximately $1,000,000 today) into the water.
Let us break this down for you, because these events that took place on the Boston Tea Party date of December 16, 1773 may seem juvenile and lawless at first. You see, before the tea act was passed, independent colonial merchants used to sell legally imported tea, which was rather costly. However, there were also plenty others that made sale of illegally imported Dutch tea, at much more lower prices. However, once taxes were levied on tea, and after the Tea Act was passed, the EIC tea was sold at prices even lower than the illegal Dutch tea.
So, if they were getting tea at significantly lower prices, why dump it all in the ocean? Simply because “no taxation without representation”. According to Samuel Adams, the Boston Tea Party was no lawless activity undertaken by immature citizens, it was protest and pretty much their one option to fight for their constitutional rights. The colonists abhorred the idea of having laws and acts passed for them when none of them was even allowed to represent the colonies in the British Parliament.
The Aftermath of the Boston Tea Party Event
Some American colonist leaders, like John Adams (future president of the United States of America) were elated upon hearing that the Boston harbor was more tea leaves than water, others like George Washington and Benjamin Franklin were not so thrilled.
While publicly, George Washington wrote, “the cause of Boston…ever will be considered as the cause of America”, he personally believed that the Bostonians were “mad” for pulling off such a ridiculous stunt. Benjamin Franklin, on the other hand, believed that the British should be reimbursed for all that tea that had been dumped into the water. He even offered to pay the entire amount from his own pocket.
Interestingly enough, on the Boston Tea Party date, nobody was harmed. Sure, the tea was in the water and the padlock was broken, but the protestors reportedly swept the decks of all three ships before they left!
Americans boycott Tea Consumption
After the proceedings of the Boston Tea Party date, a vast majority of Americans straight up refused to consume tea. The very act of doing so was considered to be unpatriotic. Following the Boston Tea Party, coffee became the beverage of choice, once tea was boycotted.
The act of boycott that took place on the Boston Tea Party date was considered to be a defining moment of American history, not because Americans started drinking coffee instead of tea. The Boston Tea Party was one of the major events that lead to the famous American Revolution against the British rule. It was what united the colonists against their English rulers, what made them drive the British troops right out of their country.
The British react with more stringent laws
Of course, the British did not take very kindly to the raid that took place on the date of the Boston Tea Party. They thought it would be a good idea to pass even more Acts against the Massachusetts colonists- which were collectively called the ‘Intolerable Acts’- the first of which, was known as the Boston Port Act (it stated that the Boston Port would remain closed until all the losses suffered due to the Boston Tea Party were paid for), passed in March of 1774.
The aim of this slew of Acts was single out Boston, Massachusetts and punishes them for the Boston Tea Party, but in reality, all they managed to achieve was unity among the colonists and a strong drive to achieve freedom for their colonizers.
The first Continental Congress Meeting
After the Intolerable Acts, also known as the Coercive Acts, were passed, a plenty many of colonists were of the opinion that the British may have taken things too far. This called for the first meeting of the Continental Congress, wherein elected officials from each of the 13 colonies- with the exception of Georgia- came together in the Carpenter’s Hall in Philadelphia to deal with the British rule and how they could get rid of it.
Admittedly, these elected delegates were of opposing ideals, but ever since the Boston Tea Party, they were determined to work together because ultimately, they all had the same goal. They reconvened in October of the same year and this time, passed The Declaration and resolves. They essentially consisted of the following pointers:
- Call for the British to take back their Intolerable Acts
- Boycott British goods
- Demand that colonies been given the right to govern themselves independently
- Demand the opportunity for colonists to train and form a colonial militia
These were the conditions put forward by the Continental Congress. The British, however did not budge. The colonists had had enough, and within months, rung the “first shot” at Concord, Massachusetts, igniting the spark that lead to the raging fire that was the American Revolutionary War.
Boston Tea party Museum
Such was the importance and significance of the Boston Tea Party, that the Boston Tea Party Museum was created to commemorate the most significant event in American history. The museum, unlike others, is one that floats. You guessed it- the Boston Tea Party Museum is actually built in the form of ships- replicas of the 18th century vessels, actually. Located on the Congress Street bridge, this attraction will blow you away, with how interactive and advanced it is.
Should you choose a complete tour of the Boston Tea Party Museum, you will be signing yourself up for some of the best 1 hour 15 minutes of your life. The Boston Tea Party museum promises you a run for your money with its multi-sensory exhibits, life-like re-enactments, and even two of the ships- The Beaver and The Eleanor- that have been authentically restored. What is more, is that the Boston Tea Party Museum has in its permanent collection, one of the tea chests, known as the Robinson Tea Chest, which so happens to be one of the oldest Bostonians artifacts from the year 1773.
Complete with an enactment of the meeting house, where the raid was planned to execution, and a reconstruction of Griffin’s wharf, your entire tour experience will make you feel as if you have landed in 18th century Boston, during the very makings of the American Revolutionary war.
The Minutemen Theatre at the Boston Tea Party Museum, brings to life what happened back in the 1770’s, breathing life into the American Revolution and giving you the chance to participate with trained actors and professional historians to get to know more about what exactly went down on the fateful day of December 16, 1773. Once you have done your exploring in all the interconnected displays of the museum, you can sit back and soak in the pure awesomeness that was your day in Abigail’s Tea Room and Terrace, where you can sip on some tea (really, did you expect anything else?) and munch on delicious snacks.
All in all, we think it is safe to say that as interesting as the Boston Tea Party event was, it played an extremely pivotal role in shaping the American history into what we know it to be today.