The Boston Tea Party (American Revolution)
Money was given to the British East India Company by the Parliament in May 1773 so that prices of tea could be lowered. The Americans resented the move of the company to trade only with merchants who were pro-British. Since there was a lot of tea at hand, around 500,000 pounds of it was put up for sale by the British East India Company in September 1773. A lot of Parliament members also had invested in the tea market. Tea had really gone cheap and Parliament members too would be losing their money. It was for this reason that on December 16, 1773, The Boston Tea Party took place. Into the Boston Harbor, tea was thrown by the colonists who did not like the taxes on tea, imposed by the British.
The East India Company:
The East India Company was founded in the year 1660. This company held the monopoly of supplying tea to Great Britain. The tea would be first sold in wholesale quantities to the merchants after which it would be shipped to the colonies. In Britain, a variety of taxes were levied and as compared to the tea smuggled to Britain from the Dutch ports, the tea from East India Company proved to be quite expensive. The Parliament did help the East India Company by tax reduction on tea, via the Indemnity Act of 1767. In 1772, the legislation had expired. Again the tea prices rose and the consumers resumed tea smuggling. The East India Company was not able to sell tea, and was left with a large tea surplus. Financial crisis was faced by the company as the situation persisted.
The 1773 Tea Act
In an effort to provide aid to the East India Company which was struggling to sell its tea, the Parliament passed the Tea Act in the year 1773. Duties related to importation were reduced and the company was able to sell the tea to the colonies directly without selling it to Britain at wholesale rates. Due to this the cost of tea sold by the East India Company would be lower as compared to the tea that was smuggled. The East India Company kept moving ahead and contracted sales agents in Charleston, Boston, Philadelphia and New York. The Act was actually an attempt made by the Parliament to break the colonial boycotting of goods from Britain. The Sons of Liberty and other groups hence began speaking out against the Tea Act.
East India Company sent 7 ships loaded with tea in the fall of 1773. One ship headed to Philadelphia, four ships sailed to Boston and one ship sailed to Charleston. One ship, William, got lost at sea. The ships had arrived and were looking towards docking at the Boston Harbor. The ships wouldn’t be returning back to England. After the terms of the Tea Act were learnt, the colonies stood up in opposition. Agents of the East India Company in south Boston were pressurized due to which even before the ships came to the Boston Harbor, many of the agents resigned. Unloading of tea was not allowed at the New York and Philadelphia harbors and the ships were forced to go back to Britain along with the cargo. At Charleston, the tea was unloaded but the customs officers confiscated it as none of the agents claimed it. However in Boston two agents continued in their posts as they were Governor Thomas Hutchinson’s sons.
Tensions That Prevailed At Boston
In late November 1773, Dartmouth, the ship containing tea cargo arrived in Boston. Unloading of tea was prevented at Boston. Samuel Adams, the leader of Sons of Liberty called for a public meeting. He asked Governor Hutchinson to send the tea ship back to Boston. Samuel was aware that cargo of the Dartmouth ship had to be unloaded as per the law and the duties too had to be paid. He ordered the Sons of Liberty members, to keep a watch on the ship to prevent unloading. Beaver and Eleanor the other 2 ships joined Dartmouth. The deadline was arriving and Hutchinson was pressurized to send the ships back.
Tea At The Boston Harbor
The deadline for unloading the tea from the ships was December 16, 1773 and Hutchinson continued insisting on the unloading of tea and tax payment. At the Old South Meeting House another large gathering was called in by Adams. He argued against the actions of the governor. Every attempt for a negotiation failed and the last resort thought by the Sons of Liberty was planned action.
Samuel Adams came up with an idea. John Hancock, Samuel Adams and many other men disguised themselves as the Natives of America with axes in their hands and began throwing all the tea into the Boston Harbor. At Griffin’s Wharf, there were hundreds of members of the Sons of Liberty who moored the tea ships. This action was also not appreciated by the British people.
Thousands of people watched them from the shore when the ships were boarded by these of Sons of Liberty members in their hundreds. They did not damage any private property. The broke open 342 tea chests all through the night and threw the tea into Boston Harbor. The value of the tea cargo as valued by the East India Company was $9659. The raiders withdrew from the ships and returned back to the city. Some left Boston for safety sake for some time.
No British troops intervened and no one got injured. This event has been termed as the Boston Tea Party. Samuel Adams now was defending his actions openly as this was a protest from the people to defend their rights in the constitution.
The British people in the Parliament were so mad at the event that the Intolerable Acts were passed by them as a punishment for the act called the Boston Tea Party. The colonials were celebrating the Boston Tea Party, however. Due to this party the Parliament unified against the colonies. Punishment was devised by Lord North’s Ministry. Punitive laws were passed in a series by the Parliament in early 1774 and the Boston Harbor was closed and it was stated that the people of the city would have to pay for the dumped tea. The colonials dubbed the laws as Intolerable Acts. Shipping to Boston was closed with the passing of the Boston Port Act till a repayment for the destroyed tea was made to the East India Company.