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What Was the Boston Tea Party?

By D Frank
Updated May 17, 2024
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On 16 December 1773, a gathering of Boston citizens led by patriot Samuel Adams disguised themselves as Mohawk Indians and boarded three British ships docked in the Boston Harbor in search of imported tea. These men, armed with axes and tomahawks, chopped open the tea trunks they found onboard and dumped almost 10,000 pounds (about 4,500 kilograms) of tea into the harbor. This action was taken by the colonists to show their distain at England's attempt to monopolize the tea market, forcing the colonists to buy their tea from the British East India Company.

According to patriot George Hewes, a participant at the Boston Tea Party, the patriots worked swiftly as thousands of others looked on. "In about three hours from the time we went on board, we had thus broken and thrown overboard every tea chest to be found on the ship," said Hewes. The following day tea was found floating about the harbor. Bostonians boarded their row boats and oared their way through the tea forcing it to dissolve in the water, so that none of it could be saved.

The Boston Tea Party is an important event in United States history as it marked the first show of violence by the colonists and cast the first cries for independence in the Boston area. England had already repealed many of the import taxes on the colonists, but it retained the tea tax to let the colonists know they were still subject to British rule. After the incident, England demanded that the Boston government pay for the tea, but the locals refused. As a result, British forces closed the Boston harbor for a period of time, further inciting cries for independence.

A unique brand of insight on the event has been presented by the Boston Tea Party Ship and Museum since 1973. Housed in the Brig Beaver, a replica of one of the vessels involved in the incident, the museum offers visitors an opportunity to "re-live" the Tea Party. The Ship and Museum are accompanied by two new replica ships, the Eleanor and Dartmouth.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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Discussion Comments
By anon116059 — On Oct 05, 2010

who participated in the raid though? Some exact names would be nice.

By GreenWeaver — On Sep 29, 2010

Cafe41-I agree with you. The fact that we have the freedoms that do allow movements like this to exist allow Americans an opportunity to voice their opinions and take political action.

As a result, many of the Tea Party candidates are viable candidates for Senate in the upcoming elections. A lot of these candidates are new to politics and really want to serve the American people.

It is through this action and positive discourse that positive changes will take place.

I wanted to add that the original Boston Tea Party came about for many reasons.

The Tea Act Boston Tea Party was passed by the English in order to help the British East India company sell 17 million pounds of tea in order to pay their taxes and remain competitive.

The Townshend Acts were taxes that were eliminated on everything but tea which impacted the colonists the most. The colonists were actually funding this tax which they felt was unfair.

By cafe41 — On Sep 29, 2010

Cupcake15-Many of the issues involved in the Boston Tea Party 1773 are some that the nation is faced with today.

The original Boston Tea party was protesting taxation without proper representation. They felt oppressed by the excessive taxes without having much say in the government.

Many feel that these feelings resonate today as the modern tea party movement unfolds. Many feel that the government is governing against the will of the people.

A perfect example of this is the nationalized health care bill. Over 70% of Americans opposed this legislation yet, the bill was signed into legislation.

This anger towards the federal government and mainly the President is what actually gives the modern Tea Party steam.

By cupcake15 — On Sep 29, 2010

Anon30068- To answer your question, the United States of America would be a very different country.

Our unique freedoms and ideals of the American spirit would not exist. Our nation would probably be another socialist nation much like most of the Europeans. Many of our inventions and companies may not have been created.

By anon30068 — On Apr 13, 2009

How would life be if the Boston tea party never happened?

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