Boston Tea Party
During the 1600's and early 1700's England established colonies, or groups of settlements, along the eastern coast of what is now the United States. England set up governors for each of the 13 colonies and controlled how the colony was ruled.
After the French and Indian War (1754-1763), the British needed money because of the great expenses they had during the war. They decided to place many kinds of taxes onto the colonies to raise the money they needed.
In 1767, in the Townshend Acts, the British placed taxes on any goods imported, or brought, into the colonies. Because the colonists didn't want to pay high prices for the products, which arrived in the cities and so didn't buy them, British merchants complained to the king and all taxes were repealed, or removed, by the government, except the tax on tea.
In 1773, the Tea Act was passed by the British government. It allowed the East India Company to bring tea in their ships directly to the colonies from China. By not going to England first, and avoiding the tax on goods first sent to England, they could sell their tea more cheaply to the colonists.
The British government, under Lord North, thought this was a good deal for the colonists and for themselves. Colonists would pay less for the tea. The British would gain because they could sell their tea for less than the Dutch smugglers who had been coming to the colonies.
However, their tea had to be sold by certain merchants in Boston, Philadelphia, Charleston, and New York only. Only British ships could participate in the tea trade. No American merchants could carry on a tea business. The governor of the colony could choose his friends to be the local tea dealers. The colonists were not happy.
In November, 1773, ships of the East India Company loaded with tea entered the harbors of the cities of Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Charleston. Colonists persuaded the merchants in all the cities but Boston to send the tea back. Only the chosen merchants in Boston refused to send the tea back. Three ships were docked at Griffin's wharf. Patriots like John Hancock, Paul Revere, and Samuel Adams tried to convince the governor to allow the ships to return to England with the tax unpaid. Governor Dickinson refused.
The colonists decided that the only thing to do was to destroy the tea. On December 16, 1773, a group of the Sons of Liberty, colonists who wanted to be free of England, went to Griffin's wharf. They had disguised themselves as Mohawk Indians and carried tomahawks. The 180 men were divided into 3 groups. They asked the captains of the ships to open the hatches. They hoisted the crates onto the decks, smashed them open and dumped the tea into Boston Harbor. Over 45 tons of tea were dumped out. No one was injured. The colonists even swept the deck clean for the captains.
Afterwards, Samuel Adams stated that they were just standing up for their rights. They wanted to be represented in the Parliament of England if they were going to be citizens of the king. The king considered the tea dumping an act of rebellion, so he ordered his ships to block the harbor so no ships could go in or out. The British Parliament (government) passed harsh laws because of the destruction of the tea. These laws led to the Revolutionary War in 1775. It wasn't until 1834 that this act was called 'The Boston Tea Party.'
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