The Boston Tea Party

Samuel Adams:

We will not submit to any tax, nor become slaves. We will take up arms, and spend our last drop of blood before the King and Parliament shall impose on us, and settle crown offers in this country to dragoon us. The times were never better in Rome than when they had no king and were a free state; and as this is a great empire, we shall have it in our power to give laws to England.

Tea was a much more valuable commodity during the eighteenth century than it is today. It only grew in warm climates in far off lands, and had to be shipped thousands of miles to get to the American colonies. England retained a small tax on tea and granted a monopoly for selling tea to America to the East India Company. The Tea Act of 1773 was an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain to expand the British East India Company’s monopoly on the tea trade to all British Colonies, selling excess tea at a reduced price. Even though their tax was lower than what British citizens paid for their tea, the colonists wouldn’t stand for it. They refused to buy tea subject to British taxation and were angry over being taxed without representation. On top of that, they were also upset about being forced to buy through the East India Company.

Tea-carrying East India Company ships approaching New York and Philadelphia were not allowed to dock. In Boston, however, the governor prevented the people from sending the newly arrived ships away. Samuel Adams and other patriots argued for the rejection of the tea ships, but the governor held firm. After days of tension, a few dozen men dressed as Native Americans boarded the ships and dumped 342 crates (45 tons) of precious tea into the Boston Harbor, in what became known as the Boston Tea Party. In response, an angry Parliament devised a bill that shut down the port of Boston for business until the city repaid what had been lost in tea. This act was one of the so-called Intolerable Acts passed by a furious English government. A year later, in September 1774, the first continental Congress met to show support for Massachusetts and to proclaim their right of self-government.

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