The Importance of the Event
The Boston Tea Party was the key-event for the Revolutionary War. With this act, the colonists started the violent part of the revolution. It was the first try of the colonists, to rebel with violence against their own government. The following events were created by the snowball effect. There, all the colonists realized the first time that they were treated wrong by the British government.
It was an important step towards the independence dream, which was resting in the head of each colonist. They all flew from their mother country to start a new life in a new world, but the British government didn’t give them the possibility by controlling them.
The Causes for the Boston Tea Party
The events leading to the Boston Tea Party began already ten years before (1763), when the English won the French-and-Indian War. The king of Britain passed taxes on the colonies to make up for the loss of money because of the war. He did it in a line of acts, called the Sugar Act (tax to protect and secure the colonists) and the Stamp Act (tax on all licenses, newspapers and business papers). The colonists reacted with protests against those acts, which made the British Parliament repeal the taxes within 5 months.
Then they (the government) passed taxes on lead, paint, paper, and tea. These acts were called the Town shed Duties, but the colonists called them the “Insidious Acts”. Mass meetings were held and people tried to influence others not to buy English imported goods anymore.
In the end, the parliament removed all the taxes except for tea. Actually, the colonists easily didn’t want to accept, to pay taxes to a government; they don’t really belong to anymore. Although this tax on the tea cost a colonial family just pennies a year.
Sam Adams, a leader of the colonists, figured out, that the tax could be raised or lowered by the parliament at will. ( Sam Adams: “The power to tax is the power to destroy!” ).
He also pointed out, that the colonists had no representation in the Parliament, and that they can’t be taxed without having a representation in there, to care for their interests and wills. However, most people drank tea smuggled in from the Netherlands, so they didn’t care very much whether the parliament raises or lowers the taxes.
When the East India Tea company realized, that the colonists were drinking cheap, smuggled tea, the Parliament gave them ( the company ) the monopoly to export tea without paying duties. That way the tea could be much cheaper than the Holland tea, even with the taxes. This act was called the Tea Act, which was of great importance for the following Boston Tea Party.
The colonists reacted to this act by holding meetings to discuss it. A supporter of the revolution (just to name some of them: John Adams, John Hancock, Dr. Joseph Warren) wrote letters of protest to the government’s officials, but they didn’t achieve anything. The tea ships arriving in Boston still had to pay the full British tax.
In September, 1773, a radical group of colonists found out, that three East India tea cargo ships, laden full with tea, were heading for Boston under full sail. They knew that if the ships got unloaded and the tax would be paid, it would be a crushing defeat.
The same radical group wanted to make the agents of the East India Company resign from their job in front of a big crowd, but this part didn’t work. Over the following weeks, speeches in form of propaganda were made, to get all colonists informed about the events. People even quitted drinking tea (what they did for their whole life) and started drinking coffee.
On November 18th, 1773, the ships arrived. Pamphlets were posted to arrange a meeting between the citizens and the governor (Hutchison), called the “Committee of Correspondence”. They wanted him to call the ships back to Britain. When he didn’t agree, a bunch of men, disguised as Indians, went and stormed towards the harbor, planning to throw the tea into the bay. They divided into three groups, each of them with one leader.
After they made the captain and his crew getting down below, they grabbed all the boxes of tea, opened them, and threw them overboard. Even some members of the crew helped them to destroy the tea. A big crowd was created in the harbor, some of them even tried to steal some tea. Altogether they destroyed 340 chests. At 10:00 pm the event was over, and the streets of Boston were empty again. The next day everybody was happy, and plans were made, to the public the important event in all colonies of America.
The Reaction of the British Government
The reactions of the British Government were called the “Intolerable Acts”. The Boston Harbor was closed by 4000 British soldiers so that Boston couldn’t get any food or other important goods. But this act failed its mission because the other colonists sent the Boston citizens food and other life-important goods. They also created a militia to protect themselves from the British army. They also weren’t allowed to hold any meetings in Boston anymore. These attempts to get the colonies under their control again were the last ones with a view of success.