why was the boston tea party held

1773 In Boston Harbor, a group of Massachusetts colonists disguised as Mohawk Indians board three British tea ships and dump 342 chests of tea into the harbor. The midnight raid, popularly known as the Boston Tea Party, was in protest of the British Parliament s Tea Act of 1773, a bill designed to save the faltering East India Company by greatly lowering its tea tax and granting it a virtual monopoly on the American tea trade. The low tax allowed the East India Company to undercut even tea smuggled into America by Dutch traders, and many colonists viewed the act as another example of taxation tyranny. When three tea ships, the
Dartmouth, the Eleanor, and the Beaver, arrived in Boston Harbor, the colonists demanded that the tea be returned to England. After Massachusetts Governor Thomas Hutchinson refused, Patriot leader Samuel Adams organized the tea party with about 60 members of the Sons of Liberty, his underground resistance group.


The British tea dumped in Boston Harbor on the night of December 16 was valued at some $18,000. Parliament, outraged by the blatant destruction of British property, enacted the Coercive Acts, also known as the Intolerable Acts, in 1774. The Coercive Acts closed Boston to merchant shipping, established formal British military rule in Massachusetts, made British officials immune to criminal prosecution in America, and required colonists to quarter British troops. The colonists subsequently called the first Continental Congress to consider a united American resistance to the British. This action, part of a wave of resistance throughout the colonies, had its origin in Parliamentвs effort to rescue the financially weakened East India Company so as to continue benefiting from the companyвs valuable position in India. The (May 10, 1773) adjusted import duties in such a way that the company could undersell even smugglers in the colonies.


The company selected consignees in Boston, Charleston, and Philadelphia, and 500,000 pounds of tea were shipped across the Atlantic in September. Did You Know? It took nearly three hours for more than 100 colonists to empty the tea into Boston Harbor. The chests held more than 90,000 lbs. (45 tons) of tea, which would cost nearly $1,000,000 dollars today. Under pressure from Patriot groups, the consignees in Charleston, New York, and Philadelphia refused to accept the tea shipments, but in Boston, the chosen merchants (including two of Governor Thomas Hutchinsonвs sons as well as his nephew) refused to concede. The first tea ship, Dartmouth, reached Boston November 27, and two more arrived shortly thereafter. Meanwhile, several mass meetings were held to demand that the tea be sent back to England with the duty unpaid.


Tension mounted as Patriot groups led by tried to persuade the consignees and then the governor to accept this approach. On December 16, a large meeting at the Old South Church was told of Hutchinsonвs final refusal. About midnight, watched by a large crowd, Adams and a small group of Sons of Liberty disguised as Mohawk Indians boarded the ships and jettisoned the tea. To Parliament, the Boston Tea Party confirmed Massachusettsвs role as the core of resistance to legitimate British rule. The Coercive Acts of 1774 were intended to punish the colony in general and Boston in particular, both for the Tea Party and for the pattern of resistance it exemplified. The Readerвs Companion to American History. Eric Foner and John A. Garraty, Editors. Copyright В 1991 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

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