United States and American History: The Boston Tea Party

About the event in United States history The Boston Tea Party, a lead up to the American Revolution where colonists revolted agaisnt the East India Tea Company.


Dec. 16 The Boston Tea Party. This incident was staged to prevent the East India Company's duty-free tea from reaching the Colonial market, not because of the tea tax, a minor irritation that brought only pound 300 ($750 today) into the King's coffers annually. Resentment this day had been further increased by news of Governor Hutchinson's decision to commission 2 of his sons as East India Company consignees.

December 16 was cold and rainy. In the back room of a newspaper print shop, the Sons of Liberty met in protest, and built their courage slowly with the contents of a huge punch bowl containing rum, arrack, applejack. By nightfall they had decided to act. With some men disguised as Mohawk Indians, and others donning ragged clothing, they smeared grease and lampblack on their faces. Led by Lendall Pitts, son of a wealthy merchant, the men divided into 3 parties of 50 each, boarded the 3 tea ships in the harbor, and emptied 342 chests of tea into the water.

It is not known for sure who the 150 Tea Party members were because the printer who had the only complete list of participating rebels ordered it destroyed when he died in 1803. However, industrious 19th-century historians managed to draw up a list of 110 men, ranging in age from 14 to 57 who allegedly took part in the Tea Party. The most notable names on the list were Paul Revere and Dr. Thomas Young, who was John Adams's family physician.

Note for tea fanciers: The tea dumped was of Ceylon and Darjeeling blends.

The very same tea, from the very same shipper who suffered its loss in 1773, is being sold today, exported from England to the U.S. You can buy an 8-oz. tin, labeled Boston Harbour Tea, 1773-1774, From the Original Shippers, Davison Newman & Co. Ltd. of London, for $2.95. The back of the tin carries this lament: "This Tea is from the same London blending House which in the Year of Our Lord 1773 had the Misfortune to suffer a Grievous Wrong in that certain Persons did Place a quantity of its Finest Produce in Boston Harbour."

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