The date was December 16,1773 and it was a cold, calm day in Boston, Massachusetts. A group of men dressed up as Mohawk Indians, boarded three ships in Boston Harbor at the dead of night. They proceeded to dump 342 chests of tea into the harbor.
Why would they do such a thing? After the French and Indian War, England began to tax the English colonies to help pay back the war debt. The colonists were not happy about these unfair taxes as they had no representation in the British Parliament. A secret society was formed called the Sons of Liberty that protested against English rule and taxes.
Due to much colonial boycotts and protests, England had repealed many of the acts except the tax on tea. The East India Tea Company was granted a monopoly on the tea trade which threatened to put colonial tea merchants out of business. These tea ships arrived in Boston causing an uproar.
The crowds in Boston made it clear that the ships should not be allowed to unload and must return to England. Governor Hutchinson refused to listen to the colonists. A meeting at Old South Meeting House was set up to discuss what to do with the three ships of tea that arrived in the harbor. The meeting was led by Samuel Adams and the crowd voted to destroy the tea.
Over 100 men, ran to Griffin’s Wharf and boarded the Beaver, Eleanor, and the Dartmouth. Tea chests were torn open and thrown overboard. No one was injured and only one was arrested that night. In today’s terms of money, the Son’s of Liberty destroyed over $1 million dollars worth of tea. All this to make a point that they wanted things to change.
This was considered English property and considered treason. Boston would pay for their expressive protest. England will pass the Intolerable acts. The provisions of this included the closing of the Boston Port until all the tea was paid for, restricted colonial assembly, increased authority of the Royal Governor and passed the Quebec Act. Benjamin Franklin offered to pay for the tea but King George III wanted Massachusetts Bay Colony to suffer.
Many colonists were furious throughout the 13 colonies and began to join the Patriot’s cause for independence from English rule. Still others were not so certain. Many loyalists remained loyal to the king despite their discontent. Sometimes it is easier to live with the wrongs that you have become accustomed to than to right those wrongs. Men like John Adams, John Hancock, James Otis and Paul Revere will attempt to gain more support for the idea of independence.
The infamous Boston Tea Party tells a story. A story about freedom, about individual rights, about taking a stand and about making a difference. This country was founded on these principles. It was a group of rabble rousers that established the very foundation of the United States of America. Let us not forget the very basis for why we protested in 1773, why we went to war in 1775 and why we established our own country in 1783. It was to fight against injustice. In the words of Patrick Henry, ” I know not what course others may take, but as for me , give me liberty or give me death!”