A Brief History
On December 16, 1773, Americans proved that they were not willing to be pushed around by a government that levied onerous taxes upon them, and this displeasure was expressed in the civil act of defiance known to us today as The Boston Tea Party.
Today’s anti-tax minded Americans calling themselves the TEA (Taxed Enough Already) Party Movement (circa 2010) finds its origins in this step leading to the American Revolutionary War.
What may not be commonly known is that this act of defiance was not based on an increase on the price of tea. In fact, the Tea Act of 1773 actually reduced the price for the colonists! The real issue was the fact that these tax laws could be levied without the participation of American voters and all the other extraneous taxes levied on the Americans.
A patriot leader in Boston, Samuel Adams, may or may not have planned or agreed to this event, but in either case he capitalized on it by using it in his anti-British propaganda. Adams defended the action as not a mob affair, but that of an aggrieved public with legitimate concerns, a righteous and morally sound act.
Many prominent American patriots in the wake of the Boston Tea Party deemed tea drinking to be un-patriotic, and colonists largely shifted to other beverages such as coffee. The common name for the event, Boston Tea Party, was not coined until 1834 and previously had been referred to as “The destruction of the tea.” The Boston Tea Party has become a symbol of resistance to oppression for all sorts of civil causes, including the cause of Indian independence led by Mahatma Gandhi and today’s TEA Party anti-tax, anti-big government movement in the United States. Many other acts of defiance to governments are now referred to as “tea parties” in the common vernacular.
At first early 19th century writers and scholars were at least a bit reluctant to glorify an act of civil disobedience that resulted in substantial financial property loss, but as time went on the event reached its current hallowed place in American lore as a brave act by American heroes. In any case, the Boston Tea Party was certainly a seminal event leading to the American Revolution and eventual Independence.
Question for students (and subscribers): Under what scenario could you imagine another revolution occurring in America? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
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For more information, please see…
Cole, Henry and Pamela Duncan Edwards. Boston Tea Party. G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 2001.
Freedman, Russell and Peter Malone. The Boston Tea Party. Holiday House, 2013.
Krull, Kathleen, Who HQ, et al. What Was the Boston Tea Party? Penguin Workshop, 2013.