Liberty at all hazards must be supported.
The Boston Tea Party
On Decmber 16, 1773, a group of American colonists boards three ships in Boston Harbor and throws 46 tons of tea overboard in protest of the Tea Act, enacted by Britain earlier that year.
Believe it or not, the Tea Act did not raise taxes on the colonists. Americans had been paying taxes on tea since 1767, when the infamous Townshend Acts were enacted. At the time, there had been so much furor over the Townshend Acts that most of its taxes—taxes on glass, lead, oil, paint, and paper—were repealed. Yet even after all those repeals, the tea tax remained. Britain wanted to prove that it had a right to tax the colonists. The colonists, of course, disagreed. They felt they should not be taxed when they had no representation in Parliament.
So what was new about the Tea Act? The measure was enacted to help bail out the British East India Company, which had 17 million pounds of surplus tea. The Tea Act effectively gave a monopoly to the British East India Company, and it severely undercut American merchants. Ultimately, all of these actions resurrected the old discontent: The colonists did not think that the taxes on tea were legitimate in the first place. And they did not intend to pay taxes on a forced monopoly.
The first load of tea arrived in Boston in late November. According to British law, taxes on tea were due within 20 days of a ship arriving in harbor. Two more ships arrived on December 2 and December 15. Boston residents wanted to reject the tea and send the ship back, but the governor (a Loyalist) would not allow the ships to leave the port. The taxes for the first ship had to be paid by December 17.
The colonists were upset, to say the least, and multiple town hall-type meetings were held. One was attended by as many as 7,000 individuals! A secret plan was set into motion among a smaller subset of these colonists, the Sons of Liberty.
On the night of December 16, more than 100 members of the Sons of Liberty dressed up as American Indians. (They dressed as Indians to express to the world that they were “Americans,” not British subjects.) The men boarded the three ships and emptied their cargoes of tea into the harbor. The protest was more orderly than you might think. No looting was allowed. The protestors worked hard not to harm anything aboard the ships (except the tea). In fact, the protestors swept the ships and put everything back into place. And they returned, later, to replace the only non-tea item that had been harmed: a padlock on one of the ships.
When they were done, the protestors returned home, without attempting to discover each other’s identities. One protestor, George Hewes, later recalled the events: “We then quietly retired to our several places of residence, without having any conversation with each other, or taking any measures to discover who were our associates….There appeared to be an understanding that each individual should volunteer his services, keep his own secret, and risk the consequence for himself. No disorder took place during that transaction, and it was observed at that time that the stillest night ensued that Boston had enjoyed for many months.”
The British government was irate when it learned about the Boston Tea Party, and it responded by passing a series of measures that would be known as the Intolerable Acts.
You could say that the Boston Tea Party was just one of the many dominoes that fell and moved America closer to Revolution. But it was much more than that. It was a “magnificent Movement,” as future President John Adams would write in his diary.
Indeed, the impact of that night still reverberates down the ages. Don’t you think?
Esther De Berdt Reed was a civic leader who formed and led the Ladies Association of Philadelphia to provide aid for George Washington’s troops during the Revolutionary War. She was a female activist in a time when it was frowned upon for women to...
Spiritual Training in Early American Education - Part 2 by Sharmen S. Wright Education of youth will always be important. He who educates the children and youth of a society today will shape a society for tomorrow. Thomas Jefferson said; "If a nation expects to be...
“A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined … ” – George Washington, First Annual Address to both Houses of Congress, January 8, 1790 © 2009 Joye~, Flickr | CC-BY Anyone who is more than 30 years old understands the meanings of words change along with...
By Melissa Quinn, October 16, 2016 On this day in 1780, a 27 year old mother, Hannah Hardy, saved her 7 year old son and 8 other young boys after they were taken captive during a British led Indian raid on her hometown of Royalton, in what is now Vermont. The early...
I was among the first 18-year-olds to be able to cast a vote in 1972 in the Nixon/McGovern election. The war in Vietnam was, of course, a huge issue, but in that day Presidents still stayed pretty well within the bounds of the Constitution, and Congress had not...
Know your Constitution - Are Executive Orders lawful? Article II of the U.S.Constitution lays out the powers and duties of the Executive Branch (the president). Section 1 gives a description of term of office and how he/she is elected, qualifications, terms of removal...
When will enough be enough? After reviewing the news I'm scratching my head trying to understand how we ever got here. Now, I'm probably a little older than a lot of you, but I remember when patriotism was normal. We celebrated every patriot day that came along and...
John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg On this day in history, October 1, 1746, John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg is born. Muhlenberg was a Lutheran minister who rose to prominence as a general during the American Revolution and was later elected to serve in the US Congress. Peter...
Saving the Republic, There is Only One Way and One Person Who Can by Michael Murphy | Sep 29, 2016 | Conservatism, Michael Murphy, New Articles, opinion, Our Team, Politics, Religion, z Home Feature Top Blog What is our republic? Not what IS a republic…what is OUR...
Protecting Liberty by James D. Best “If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one…” James Madison When studying the political formation of the United Sates, one...
Welcome To The Civics Practice Test!
The civics practice test is a study tool to help you test your knowledge of U.S. history and government. Use this online tool to prepare for the civics portion of the naturalization test.
This practice test contains 20 questions.
Mid-Term Election - November 8, 2022