History of the Boston Tea Party 1773 - The Tax Deadline
The tax on the tea had to be paid the moment the tea was unloaded. An armed guard of patriots was posted at the wharf to prevent the cargo coming ashore. The absolute deadline for payment of the Tea Tax was 20 days after the arrival of the consignment. If the tax was not paid within the 20 days the cargo would be seized by authorities. For the 20 days following the arrival of the Dartmouth, meetings occurred on a daily basis throughout Boston to discuss what was to be done about the shipments of “detested tea”. On November 5, 1773 Samuel Adams called a town meeting at Faneuil Hall in response to the “tea crisis” and declared anyone who aids or abets the “unloading receiving or vending the tea is an enemy to America!” Samuel Adams, John Hancock and Paul Revere organized another meeting on November 29, 1773, the day after the Dartmouth arrived, at Faneuil Hall to discuss the situation. Over 5000 people showed up, so the meeting had to be moved to the Old South Meeting House to accommodate the thousands of Boston citizens.
The meeting decided to demand that the tea be sent back to England with the tax unpaid. The attendees told Francis Rotch, the owner of the Dartmouth ship, to ask Governor Hutchinson for permission to sail out of Boston and back to England. On December 16, 1773 yet another large meeting at the Old South Church in Boston was called. During this meeting the patriots were told that Governor Thomas Hutchinson had refused their demands. The people of Boston and the Sons of Liberty agreed that their only course of action was to destroy the cargo. The scene was set for the Boston Tea Party...
History of the Boston Tea Party 1773 - The Patriotic Participants
Once the decision to destroy the tea had been made the Sons of Liberty quickly moved into action. Volunteers were called for and over 200 men volunteered to take part. The action was to take place at 7pm on December 16, 1773. The volunteers were organised into three groups in order to board the three different ships. Each group had its own leader. The names of 180 men are known to have participated in the Boston Tea Party - there were probably more who wanted to keep their participation a secret. At least two thirds of the participants of the Boston Tea Party were under 20. Only nine are known to have been older than 40 years old. These patriots came from all different walks of life. The majority of participants of the Boston Tea Party were young apprentices, laborers and seamen. About one third of the participants were skilled artisans such as carpenters, masons and shoemakers and there were also a small number of merchants, doctors and clerks. Paul Revere was the most famous known participant of the Boston Tea Party.
History of the Boston Tea Party 1773 - Why did they dress up as Indians?
Destroying the tea at the Boston Tea Party was a risky business and would be viewed as an act of treason that was punishable by death. One of the participants, called Nathaniel Bradlee, had a sister called Sarah Bradlee. Sarah Bradlee was a prominent member of the Boston Daughters of Liberty and is credited for being the person who came up with the idea of patriots dressing up as Mohawk Indians. Sarah Bradlee has since been referred to as the "Mother of the Boston Tea Party" for helping the patriots to disguise themselves as Indians. So this is why many of the Boston patriots who participated in the Boston Tea Party disguised themselves as Mohawk Indians to hide their identity. A shop owned by John Cane, who was one of the participants in the Boston Tea Party, was used by some of the patriots as a gathering place before heading to the ships at Griffins’ wharf. It was here that that many adopted their disguises as Mohawk Indians. They carried hatchets, or tomahawks, which they would use to break open the crates during the Boston Tea Party.
History of the Boston Tea Party 1773 - Eye Witness Quotes and Accounts
There are some eye witness accounts and quotes from participants in the Boston Tea party. Joshua Wyeth, reminiscing the events of the Boston Tea party said,
“To prevent discovery we agreed to wear ragged clothes and disfigure ourselves, dressing to resemble Indians
as much as possible, smearing our faces with grease and lamp black or soot,
and should not have known each other except by our voices.”
George Robert Twelves Hewes, also reminiscing the events of the Boston Tea party said,
“…I immediately dressed myself in the costume of an Indian, equipped with a small hatchet…after having
painted my face and hands with coal dust in the shop of a blacksmith.”
History of the Boston Tea Party 1773 - What happened at the Boston Tea Party?
The three groups, many disguised as Mohawk Indians. made their way to Griffin's Wharf where the three ships were berthed. They were not quiet, they were excited and there were lots of them. A large mob attended the Boston Tea Party and there was little interference and no violence occurred. Many accounts of the Boston Tea Party mention that “war whoops” were heard from the participants throughout the evening.
Boston Tea Party - The Port of Boston in the mid 1700's
History of the Boston Tea Party 1773 - Dumping the Tea
The leaders of each of the groups of patriots requested that each Captain unlocked the hatches to the cargo decks. The patriots then hoisted the tea crates on to the main deck. The crates were then smashed open with the tomahawks and thrown into the water. The Captains of the three ships and their crews of the ships generally stood by impassively watching the events of the Boston Tea Party, and the surrounding British warships did not fire their weapons. The only casualty during the Boston Tea party happened to John Crane who was knocked unconscious by a falling crate. He was carried to the docks by his comrades and put on a bed of wood shavings. The patriots took 3 hours between 7pm and 10pm to dump the cargo. Over 45 tons of cargo went into the water the night of the Boston Tea Party. The patriots taking part in the Boston Tea Party did not vandalize the ships, nor did they steal any of the cargo for personal consumption. The crews of the Dartmouth, Beaver and Eleanor ships later confirmed that nothing had been damaged or destroyed during the Boston Tea Party, except the tea, and that the protesters had swept the decks clean afterwards!
History of the Boston Tea Party in 1773 - The Aftermath
The next day some of the participants returned to Griffin's Wharf and, seeing some of the tea still floating on top of the water, they approached it in small boats and destroyed what remained by hitting it with their oars.
The 1773 Boston Tea Party Quotes
The reaction to the Boston Tea Party were diverse as these quotes will indicate. Samuel Adams defended the actions of the Boston Tea Party patriots stating that it:
“was not the act of a lawless mob, but a principled protest and the only remaining option
the people had to defend their Constitutional rights.”
Another Boston Tea Party Quote was made by King George III stated that:
“The die is now cast. The colonies must either submit or triumph.”
There were many Americans who were not in favor of the unlawful actions taken in Boston by destroying private property. Benjamin Franklin stated that the destroyed tea must be repaid. Robert Murray, a New York financier and merchant together with three other merchants approached Lord North the British Prime Minister offering to pay for the losses incurred during the Boston Tea Party, but the offer was turned down.
The Effects of the Boston Tea Party - What happened after the Boston Tea Party?
What were the Effects of the Boston Tea Party? What happened after the Boston Tea Party?
- Many of the Boston Tea Party participants fled Boston immediately after the event to avoid arrest
- Only one participant and patriot of the Sons of Liberty called Francis Akeley, was caught and imprisoned for his participation in the Boston Tea Party. He was the only person ever to be arrested for the Boston Tea Party and he was released because of a lack of evidence
- Hundreds of people had watched the events of the Boston Tea Party, yet no eyewitnesses would cooperate with the authorities
- Ministers decided to punish the town of Boston as a whole
- The British Parliament ordered the Royal Navy to blockade Boston Harbor
- British army regiments were sent to enforce the closure of the harbor
- The blockade prevented supplies from entering the Harbor and prevented Massachusetts merchants from selling their goods
- These measures that followed the Boston Tea Party were implemented under the 1774 Coercive Acts (aka Intolerable Acts) which consisted of the Boston Port Act, the Massachusetts Government Act, the Administration of Justice Act, the Quartering Act and the Quebec Act.
- American colonists responded with protests and coordinated resistance by convening the First Continental Congress in September and October of 1774 to petition Britain to repeal the Intolerable Acts.
The Significance of Boston Tea Party - History of the American Revolutionary War
The constant stream of new laws and taxes demanded by the British parliament was like a slow burning fuse to a keg of dynamite that would explode into the American Revolutionary War.
- The Battles of Lexington and Concord followed the Boston Tea Party and were fought on April 19, 1775. They were the first battles of the American Revolutionary War
- In January of 1776, Thomas Paine anonymously published the 50 page pamphlet entitled Common Sense which supported America's independence from Great Britain and its monarchy
- The National government emerged from the Continental Congress. The Continental Army was created and George Washington was appointed as its commander in chief
History of the Boston Tea Party - Facts about the Tea
The ships each carried 114 chests of tea making a total of 342 crates that were destroyed at the Boston Tea Party. The 342 chests of tea were equivalent to more than 46 tons of tea leaves which would have made nearly 19 million cups of tea! There were different types of tea on the ship although the Tea Act text states "to increase the deposit on bohea tea to be sold at the India Company's sales". Bohea Tea (pronounced boo-hee) was a black tea from China. The word Bohea was commonly used as the slang term for tea and used as a generic term for tea during the period in history of the Boston Tea Party. The different types of tea on the three ships involved in the Boston Tea Party were:
- Boston Tea Party: 240 chests of black Bohea tea - the cheapest type
- Boston Tea Party: 15 chests of Congou which was a superior type of black Bohea tea
- Boston Tea Party: 10 chests of Souchong which was the best black tea
- Boston Tea Party: 60 chests of of Singlo which was a green tea and more expensive than black tea
- Boston Tea Party: 17 chests of Hyson which was the most desirable, and expensive green tea
In the year of 1768, American colonists consumed almost two million pounds of tea - The 3 million inhabitants of the American colonies were consuming an average of 2-3 cups every day. Tea was first introduced into England in 1650 by the Dutch and soon became extremely popular. Peter Stuyvesant brought tea to the American colonists in New Amsterdam, later called New York. The Tea Act provided the means for the seventeen million pounds of unsold surplus tea that the British East India Company held in London could be sold to markets in the American colonies. The American colonists were drinking more tea than all of England. The boycott of English tea resulted in 90% of the tea in the colonies being smuggled in. The American tradition of drinking coffee increased as British tea was subject to boycotts during and after the Boston Tea Party.