Boston Tea Party

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Boston Tea Party
Part of the American Revolution
Boston Tea Party w.jpg
Boston Tea Party, engraving in W. D. Cooper's The History of North America, London: E. Newberry, 1789 [1]
DateDecember 16, 1773;250 years ago (1773-12-16)
42°21′13″N71°03′09″W / 42.3536°N 71.0524°W / 42.3536; -71.0524 (Boston Tea Party)
Caused by Tea Act
GoalsTo protest British Parliament's tax on tea. "No taxation without representation."
MethodsThrowing the tea into Boston Harbor
Resulted in Intolerable Acts
Lead figures

The Boston Tea Party was an American political and mercantile protest on December 16, 1773, by the Sons of Liberty in Boston in colonial Massachusetts. [2] The target was the Tea Act of May 10, 1773, which allowed the British East India Company to sell tea from China in American colonies without paying taxes apart from those imposed by the Townshend Acts. The Sons of Liberty strongly opposed the taxes in the Townshend Act as a violation of their rights. In response, the Sons of Liberty, some disguised as Native Americans, destroyed an entire shipment of tea sent by the East India Company.

The demonstrators boarded the ships and threw the chests of tea into the Boston Harbor. The British government considered the protest an act of treason and responded harshly. [3] Days later the Philadelphia Tea Party, instead of destroying a shipment of tea, sent the ship back to England without unloading. The episodes escalated into the American Revolution, and the Boston Tea Party became an iconic event of American history. Since then other political protests such as the Tea Party movement have referred to themselves as historical successors to the Boston protest of 1773.

The Tea Party was the culmination of a resistance movement throughout British America against the Tea Act, a tax passed by the British Parliament in 1773. Colonists objected to the Tea Act believing it violated their rights as Englishmen to "no taxation without representation", that is, to be taxed only by their own elected representatives and not by a parliament in which they were not represented. The well-connected East India Company also had been granted competitive advantages over colonial tea importers, who resented the move and feared additional infringement on their business. [4] Protesters had prevented the unloading of tea in three other colonies, but in Boston, embattled Royal Governor Thomas Hutchinson refused to allow the tea to be returned to Great Britain.

The Boston Tea Party was a significant event that helped accelerate and intensify colonial support for the American Revolution. Parliament responded in 1774 with the Intolerable Acts, or Coercive Acts, which, among other provisions, ended local self-government in Massachusetts and closed Boston's commerce. Colonists throughout the Thirteen Colonies responded to the Intolerable Acts with additional acts of protest, and by convening the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia, which petitioned the British monarch for repeal of the acts and coordinated colonial resistance to them, culminating in the October 1774 Continental Association. The crisis escalated, leading to the Battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775, which marked the beginning of the American Revolutionary War.


The Boston Tea Party arose from two issues confronting the British Empire: the financial problems of the British East India Company and an ongoing dispute about the extent of Parliament's authority, if any, over the British American colonies without seating any elected representation. The North Ministry's attempt to resolve these issues produced a showdown that eventually resulted in the Revolution, the associated War of Independence, and ultimately the end of British colonialization and the emergence of the United States as a sovereign nation. [5]

Tea trade to 1767

As Europeans developed a taste for tea in the 17th century, rival companies were formed to import the product from China, which was then governed by the Qing dynasty. [6] In 1698, the British Parliament granted the East India Company a monopoly on the importation of tea. [7] When tea became popular in the British colonies, Parliament sought to eliminate foreign competition by passing an act in 1721 that required colonists to import their tea only from Great Britain. [8] The East India Company did not export tea to the colonies; by law, the company was required to sell its tea wholesale at auctions in England. British firms bought this tea and exported it to the colonies, where they resold it to merchants in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Charleston. [9]

Until 1767, the East India Company paid an ad valorem tax of about 25% on tea that it imported into Great Britain. [10] Parliament laid additional taxes on tea sold for consumption in Britain. These high taxes, combined with the fact that tea imported into the Dutch Republic was not taxed by the Dutch government, meant that Britons and British Americans could buy smuggled Dutch tea at much cheaper prices. [11] The biggest market for illicit tea was England—by the 1760s the East India Company was losing £400,000 per year to smugglers in Great Britain [12] —but Dutch tea was also smuggled into British America in significant quantities. [13]

In 1767, to help the East India Company compete with smuggled Dutch tea, Parliament passed the Indemnity Act, which lowered the tax on tea consumed in Great Britain and gave the East India Company a refund of the 25% duty on tea that was re-exported to the colonies. [14] To help offset this loss of government revenue, Parliament also passed the Townshend Revenue Act of 1767, which levied new taxes, including one on tea, in the colonies. [15]

Townshend duty crisis

A controversy between Great Britain and the colonies arose in the 1760s when Parliament sought, for the first time, to impose a direct tax on the colonies for the purpose of raising revenue. Some colonists, known in the colonies as American patriots, objected to the new tax program, arguing that it was a violation of the British Constitution. Britons and British Americans agreed that, according to the constitution, British subjects could not be taxed without the consent of their elected representatives. In Great Britain, this meant that taxes could only be levied by Parliament. Colonists, however, did not elect members of Parliament, and so American Whigs argued that the colonies could not be taxed by that body. According to Whigs, colonists could only be taxed by their own colonial assemblies. Colonial protests resulted in the repeal of the Stamp Act in 1766, but in the 1766 Declaratory Act, Parliament continued to insist that it had the right to legislate for the colonies "in all cases whatsoever".[ citation needed ]

When new taxes were levied in the Townshend Revenue Act of 1767, American patriots again responded with protests and boycotts. Merchants organized a non-importation agreement, and many colonists pledged to abstain from drinking British tea, with activists in New England promoting alternatives, such as domestic Labrador tea. [16] Smuggling continued apace, especially in New York and Philadelphia, where tea smuggling had always been more extensive than in Boston. Dutied British tea continued to be imported into Boston, however, especially by Richard Clarke and the sons of Massachusetts Governor Thomas Hutchinson, until pressure from Massachusetts Whigs compelled them to abide by the non-importation agreement. [17]

Parliament finally responded to the protests by repealing the Townshend taxes in 1770, except for the tea duty, which Prime Minister Lord North kept to assert "the right of taxing the Americans". [18] This partial repeal of the taxes was enough to bring an end to the non-importation movement by October 1770. [19] From 1771 to 1773, British tea was once again imported into the colonies in significant amounts, with merchants paying the Townshend duty of three pence (equivalent to £1.36in 2021) per pound in weight of tea. [20] [21] Boston was the largest colonial importer of legal tea; smugglers still dominated the market in New York and Philadelphia. [22]

In the 1772 Gaspee affair, colonists attacked and burned a British navy ship enforcing British customs laws off the coast of Newport, Rhode Island.

Tea Act of 1773

This iconic 1846 lithograph by Nathaniel Currier was entitled The Destruction of Tea at Boston Harbor; the phrase "Boston Tea Party" had not yet become standard. Contrary to Currier's depiction, few of the men dumping the tea were actually disguised as Native Americans. Boston Tea Party Currier colored.jpg
This iconic 1846 lithograph by Nathaniel Currier was entitled The Destruction of Tea at Boston Harbor; the phrase "Boston Tea Party" had not yet become standard. Contrary to Currier's depiction, few of the men dumping the tea were actually disguised as Native Americans.

The Indemnity Act of 1767, which gave the East India Company a refund of the duty on tea that was re-exported to the colonies, expired in 1772. Parliament passed a new act in 1772 that reduced this refund, effectively leaving a 10% duty on tea imported into Britain. [24] The act also restored the tea taxes within Britain that had been repealed in 1767, and left in place the three pence Townshend duty in the colonies, equal to £1.36 today. With this new tax burden driving up the price of British tea, sales plummeted. The company continued to import tea into Great Britain, however, amassing a huge surplus of product that no one would buy. [25] For these and other reasons, by late 1772 the East India Company, one of Britain's most important commercial institutions, was in a serious financial crisis. [26] The severe famine in Bengal from 1769 to 1773 had drastically reduced the revenue of the East India Company from India bringing the Company to the verge of bankruptcy and the Tea Act of 1773 was enacted to help the East India Company. [27]

Eliminating some of the taxes was one obvious solution to the crisis. The East India Company initially sought to have the Townshend duty repealed, but the North ministry was unwilling because such an action might be interpreted as a retreat from Parliament's position that it had the right to tax the colonies. [28] More importantly, the tax collected from the Townshend duty was used to pay the salaries of some colonial governors and judges. [29] This was in fact the purpose of the Townshend tax: previously these officials had been paid by the colonial assemblies, but Parliament now paid their salaries to keep them dependent on the British government rather than allowing them to be accountable to the colonists. [30]

Another possible solution for reducing the growing mound of tea in the East India Company warehouses was to sell it cheaply in Europe. This possibility was investigated, but it was determined that the tea would simply be smuggled back into Great Britain, where it would undersell the taxed product. [31] The best market for the East India Company's surplus tea, so it seemed, was the American colonies, if a way could be found to make it cheaper than the smuggled Dutch tea. [32]

The North Ministry's solution was the Tea Act, which received the assent of King George on May 10, 1773. [33] This act restored the East India Company's full refund on the duty for importing tea into Britain, and also permitted the company, for the first time, to export tea to the colonies on its own account. This would allow the company to reduce costs by eliminating the middlemen who bought the tea at wholesale auctions in London. [34] Instead of selling to middlemen, the company now appointed colonial merchants to receive the tea on consignment; the consignees would in turn sell the tea for a commission. In July 1773, tea consignees were selected in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, and Charleston. [35] The Tea Act in 1773 authorized the shipment of 5,000 chests of tea (250 tons) to the American colonies. There would be a tax of £1,750 (equal to £238,000 today) to be paid by the importers when the cargo landed. The act granted the EIC a monopoly on the sale of tea that was cheaper than smuggled tea; its hidden purpose was to force the colonists to pay a tax of 3 pennies on every pound of tea. [36]

The Tea Act thus retained the three pence Townshend duty on tea imported to the colonies. Some members of Parliament wanted to eliminate this tax, arguing that there was no reason to provoke another colonial controversy. Former Chancellor of the Exchequer William Dowdeswell, for example, warned Lord North that the Americans would not accept the tea if the Townshend duty remained. [37] But North did not want to give up the revenue from the Townshend tax, primarily because it was used to pay the salaries of colonial officials; maintaining the right of taxing the Americans was a secondary concern. [38] According to historian Benjamin Labaree, "A stubborn Lord North had unwittingly hammered a nail in the coffin of the old British Empire." [39]

Even with the Townshend duty in effect, the Tea Act would allow the East India Company to sell tea more cheaply than before, undercutting the prices offered by smugglers, but also undercutting colonial tea importers, who paid the tax and received no refund. In 1772, legally imported Bohea, the most common variety of tea, sold for about 3 shillings (3s) per pound, equal to £20.4 today. [40] After the Tea Act, colonial consignees would be able to sell it for 2 shillings per pound (2s), just under the smugglers' price of 2 shillings and 1 penny (2s 1d). [41] Realizing that the payment of the Townshend duty was politically sensitive, the company hoped to conceal the tax by making arrangements to have it paid either in London once the tea was landed in the colonies, or have the consignees quietly pay the duties after the tea was sold. This effort to hide the tax from the colonists was unsuccessful. [42]

Resisting the Tea Act

This 1775 British cartoon, A Society of Patriotic Ladies at Edenton in North Carolina, satirizes the Edenton Tea Party, a group of American women who organized a boycott of English tea. Edenton-North-Carolina-women-Tea-boycott-1775.jpg
This 1775 British cartoon, A Society of Patriotic Ladies at Edenton in North Carolina, satirizes the Edenton Tea Party, a group of American women who organized a boycott of English tea.

In September and October 1773, seven ships carrying East India Company tea were sent to the colonies: four were bound for Boston, and one each for New York, Philadelphia, and Charleston. [43] In the ships were more than 2,000 chests containing nearly 600,000 pounds of tea. [44] Americans learned the details of the Tea Act while the ships were en route, and opposition began to mount. [45] Whigs, sometimes calling themselves Sons of Liberty, began a campaign to raise awareness and to convince or compel the consignees to resign, in the same way that stamp distributors had been forced to resign in the 1765 Stamp Act crisis. [46]

The protest movement that culminated with the Boston Tea Party was not a dispute about high taxes. The price of legally imported tea was actually reduced by the Tea Act of 1773. Protesters were instead concerned with a variety of other issues. The familiar "no taxation without representation" argument, along with the question of the extent of Parliament's authority in the colonies, remained prominent. [47] Samuel Adams considered the British tea monopoly to be "equal to a tax" and to raise the same representation issue whether or not a tax was applied to it. [48] Some regarded the purpose of the tax program—to make leading officials independent of colonial influence—as a dangerous infringement of colonial rights. [49] This was especially true in Massachusetts, the only colony where the Townshend program had been fully implemented. [50]

Colonial merchants, some of them smugglers, played a significant role in the protests. Because the Tea Act made legally imported tea cheaper, it threatened to put smugglers of Dutch tea out of business. [51] Legitimate tea importers who had not been named as consignees by the East India Company were also threatened with financial ruin by the Tea Act. [52] Another major concern for merchants was that the Tea Act gave the East India Company a monopoly on the tea trade, and it was feared that this government-created monopoly might be extended in the future to include other goods. [53]

In New York, Philadelphia, and Charleston protesters compelled the tea consignees to resign. In Charleston, the consignees had been forced to resign by early December, and the unclaimed tea was seized by customs officials. [54] There were mass protest meetings in Philadelphia. Benjamin Rush urged his fellow countrymen to oppose the landing of the tea, because the cargo contained "the seeds of slavery". [55] [56] By early December, the Philadelphia consignees had resigned, and in late December the tea ship returned to England with its cargo following a confrontation with the ship's captain. [57] The tea ship bound for New York City was delayed by bad weather; by the time it arrived, the consignees had resigned, and the ship returned to England with the tea. [58]

Standoff in Boston

A notice from the "Chairman of the Committee for Tarring and Feathering" in Boston denouncing the tea consignees as "traitors to their country". BostonTeaPartyJoyceNotice.jpg
A notice from the "Chairman of the Committee for Tarring and Feathering" in Boston denouncing the tea consignees as "traitors to their country".

In every colony except Massachusetts, protesters were able to force the tea consignees to resign or to return the tea to England. [59] In Boston, however, Governor Hutchinson was determined to hold his ground. He convinced the tea consignees, two of whom were his sons, not to back down. [60]

When the tea ship Dartmouth [lower-alpha 1] arrived in the Boston Harbor in late November, Whig leader Samuel Adams called for a mass meeting to be held at Faneuil Hall on November 29, 1773. Thousands of people arrived, so many that the meeting was moved to the larger Old South Meeting House. [61] British law required Dartmouth to unload and pay the duties within twenty days or customs officials could confiscate the cargo (i.e. unload it onto American soil). [62] The mass meeting passed a resolution, introduced by Adams and based on a similar set of resolutions promulgated earlier in Philadelphia, urging the captain of Dartmouth to send the ship back without paying the import duty. Meanwhile, the meeting assigned twenty-five men to watch the ship and prevent the tea – including a number of chests from Davison, Newman and Co. of London – from being unloaded. [63]

The colonial governor of Massachusetts, Governor Hutchinson, refused to grant permission for the Dartmouth to leave without paying the duty. Two more tea ships, Eleanor and Beaver, arrived in Boston Harbor. On December 16 – the last day of Dartmouth's deadline – approximately 5,000 [64] –7,000 [65] people out of an estimated population of 16,000 [64] had gathered around the Old South Meeting House. After receiving a report that Governor Hutchinson had again refused to let the ships leave, Adams announced that "This meeting can do nothing further to save the country." According to a popular story, Adams's statement was a prearranged signal for the "tea party" to begin. However, this claim did not appear in print until nearly a century after the event, in a biography of Adams written by his great-grandson, who apparently misinterpreted the evidence. [66] According to eyewitness accounts, people did not leave the meeting until 10–15 minutes after Adams's alleged "signal", and Adams in fact tried to stop people from leaving because the meeting was not yet over. [67]

Destruction of the tea

1789 engraving of the destruction of the tea Boston Tea Party-Cooper.jpg
1789 engraving of the destruction of the tea

While Samuel Adams tried to reassert control of the meeting, people poured out of the Old South Meeting House to prepare to take action. In some cases, this involved donning what may have been elaborately prepared Mohawk costumes. [68] While disguising their individual faces was imperative, because of the illegality of their protest, dressing as Mohawk warriors was a specific and symbolic choice. It showed that the Sons of Liberty identified with America, over their official status as subjects of Great Britain. [69]

That evening, a group of 30 to 130 men, some dressed in the Mohawk warrior disguises, boarded the three vessels and, over the course of three hours, dumped all 342 chests of tea into the water. [70] The precise location of the Griffin's Wharf site of the Tea Party has been subject to prolonged uncertainty; a comprehensive study [71] places it near the foot of Hutchinson Street (today's Pearl Street).[ better source needed ] The property damage amounted to the destruction of 92,000 pounds or 340 chests of tea, reported by the British East India Company worth £9,659 (equivalent to £1,305,774 in 2021 [72] ), or roughly $1,700,000 in today's money. [73] The owner of two of the three ships was William Rotch, a Nantucket-born colonist and merchant. [74]

Another tea ship intended for Boston, the William, ran aground at Cape Cod in December 1773, and its tea was taxed and sold to private parties. In March 1774, the Sons of Liberty received information that this tea was being held in a warehouse in Boston, entered the warehouse and destroyed all they could find. Some of it had already been sold to Davison, Newman and Co. and was being held in their shop. On March 7, Sons of Liberty once again dressed as Mohawks, broke into the shop, and dumped the last remaining tea into the harbor. [75] [76]


A plaque commemorating the Boston Tea Party, currently affixed to side of the Independence Wharf Building in Boston Boston Tea Party Plaque - Independence Wharf 2009.jpg
A plaque commemorating the Boston Tea Party, currently affixed to side of the Independence Wharf Building in Boston

Whether or not Samuel Adams helped plan the Boston Tea Party is disputed, but he immediately worked to publicize and defend it. [77] He argued that the Tea Party was not the act of a lawless mob, but was instead a principled protest and the only remaining option the people had to defend their constitutional rights. [78]

John Adams, Samuel's second cousin and likewise a Founding Father, wrote in his diary on December 17, 1773, that the Boston Tea Party proved a historical moment in the American Revolution, writing:

This is the most magnificent Movement of all. There is a Dignity, a Majesty, a Sublimity, in this last Effort of the Patriots, that I greatly admire. The People should never rise, without doing something to be remembered—something notable And striking. This Destruction of the Tea is so bold, so daring, so firm, intrepid and inflexible, and it must have so important Consequences, and so lasting, that I cant but consider it as an Epocha in History. [79]

In Great Britain, even those politicians considered friends of the colonies were appalled and this act united all parties there against the colonies. The Prime Minister Lord North said, "Whatever may be the consequence, we must risk something; if we do not, all is over". [80] The British government felt this action could not remain unpunished, and responded by closing the port of Boston and putting in place other laws known as the "Intolerable Acts." Benjamin Franklin stated that the East India Company should be paid for the destroyed tea, [81] all ninety thousand pounds (which, at two shillings per pound, came to £9,000, or £1.22 million [2014, approx. $1.7 million US]). [72] Robert Murray, a New York merchant, went to Lord North with three other merchants and offered to pay for the losses, but the offer was turned down. [82]

The incident resulted in a similar effect in North America, when news of the Boston Tea Party reached London in January and Parliament responded with a series of acts known collectively in the colonies as the Intolerable Acts. These were intended to punish Boston for the destruction of private property, restore British authority in Massachusetts, and otherwise reform colonial government in America. Although the first three, the Boston Port Act, the Massachusetts Government Act and the Administration of Justice Act, applied only to Massachusetts, colonists outside that colony feared that their governments could now also be changed by legislative fiat in England. The Intolerable Acts were viewed as a violation of constitutional rights, natural rights, and colonial charters, and united many colonists throughout America. [83]

A number of colonists were inspired by the Boston Tea Party to carry out similar acts, such as the burning of Peggy Stewart. The Boston Tea Party eventually proved to be one of the many reactions that led to the American Revolutionary War. [84] In February 1775, Britain passed the Conciliatory Resolution, which ended taxation for any colony that satisfactorily provided for the imperial defense and the upkeep of imperial officers. The tax on tea was repealed with the Taxation of Colonies Act 1778, part of another Parliamentary attempt at conciliation that failed.[ citation needed ]


The Boston Tea Party Museum in Fort Point Channel Boston Tea Party Museum.jpg
The Boston Tea Party Museum in Fort Point Channel
In 1973, the US Post Office issued a set of four stamps, together making one scene of the Boston Tea Party. Boston Tea Party-1973 issue-3c.jpg
In 1973, the US Post Office issued a set of four stamps, together making one scene of the Boston Tea Party.
External videos
Nuvola apps kaboodle.svg Booknotes interview with Alfred Young on The Shoemaker and the Tea Party, November 21, 1999, C-SPAN [85]

John Adams and many other Americans considered tea drinking to be unpatriotic following the Boston Tea Party. Tea drinking declined during and after the Revolution, resulting in a shift to coffee as the preferred hot drink. [86]

According to historian Alfred Young, the term "Boston Tea Party" did not appear in print until 1834. [87] Before that time, the event was usually referred to as the "destruction of the tea". According to Young, American writers were for many years apparently reluctant to celebrate the destruction of property, and so the event was usually ignored in histories of the American Revolution. This began to change in the 1830s, however, especially with the publication of biographies of George Robert Twelves Hewes, one of the few still-living participants of the "tea party", as it then became known. [88]

The Boston Tea Party has often been referenced in other political protests. When Mohandas Gandhi led a mass burning of Indian registration cards in South Africa in 1908, a British newspaper compared the event to the Boston Tea Party. [89] When Gandhi met with the Viceroy of India in 1930 after the Indian salt protest campaign, Gandhi took some duty-free salt from his shawl and said, with a smile, that the salt was "to remind us of the famous Boston Tea Party." [90]

American activists from a variety of political viewpoints have invoked the Tea Party as a symbol of protest. In 1973, on the 200th anniversary of the Tea Party, a mass meeting at Faneuil Hall called for the impeachment of President Richard Nixon and protested oil companies in the ongoing oil crisis. Afterwards, protesters boarded a replica ship in Boston Harbor, hanged Nixon in effigy, and dumped several empty oil drums into the harbor. [91] In 1998, two conservative US Congressmen put the federal tax code into a chest marked "tea" and dumped it into the harbor. [92]

In 2006, a libertarian political party called the "Boston Tea Party" was founded. In 2007, the Ron Paul "Tea Party" money bomb, held on the 234th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party, broke the one-day fund-raising record by raising $6.04 million in 24 hours. [93] Subsequently, these fund-raising "Tea parties" grew into the Tea Party movement, which dominated conservative American politics for the next two years, reaching its peak with a voter victory for the Republicans in 2010 who were widely elected to seats in the United States House of Representatives.[ citation needed ]

In 2023, the December 16th 1773 organization hosted a 250th anniversary re-enactment of the Tea Party, putting an original bottle of tea on display. [94] [95]

Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum

Replica of the Beaver in Boston Replica Beaver.jpg
Replica of the Beaver in Boston

The Boston Tea Party Museum is located on the Congress Street Bridge in Boston. It features reenactments, a documentary, and a number of interactive exhibits. The museum features two replica ships of the period, Eleanor and Beaver. Additionally, the museum possesses one of two known tea chests from the original event, part of its permanent collection. [96]


Actual tea

The American Antiquarian Society holds in its collection a vial of actual tea-infused harbor water from 1773. [98]

Cultural references

The Boston Tea Party has been subject of several films:

It has been subject of The Boston Tea Party, a 1976 play by Allan Albert, and "Boston Tea Party", a 1976 song by the Sensational Alex Harvey Band from SAHB Stories . [99]

In the 2012 video game Assassin's Creed III , the Boston Tea Party is retold through a main story mission in Sequence 6.

See also


  1. Dartmouth had delivered whale oil to London and taken on the tea as return cargo

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The Chestertown Tea Party was a protest against British excise duties which, according to local legend, took place in May 1774 in Chestertown, Maryland as a response to the British Tea Act. Chestertown tradition holds that, following the example of the more famous Boston Tea Party, colonial patriots boarded the brigantine Geddes in broad daylight and threw its cargo of tea into the Chester River. The event is celebrated each Memorial Day weekend with a festival and historic reenactment called the Chestertown Tea Party Festival.

<i>Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania</i>

Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania is a series of essays written by the Pennsylvania lawyer and legislator John Dickinson (1732–1808) and published under the pseudonym "A Farmer" from 1767 to 1768. The twelve letters were widely read and reprinted throughout the Thirteen Colonies, and were important in uniting the colonists against the Townshend Acts in the run-up to the American Revolution. According to many historians, the impact of the Letters on the colonies was unmatched until the publication of Thomas Paine's Common Sense in 1776. The success of the letters earned Dickinson considerable fame.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hutchinson letters affair</span> 1773 publication that increased tension between Massachusetts and the British

The Hutchinson letters affair was an incident that increased tensions between the colonists of the Province of Massachusetts Bay and the British government prior to the American Revolution.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Samuel Adams</span> Founding Father of the United States (1722–1803)

Samuel Adams was an American statesman, political philosopher, and a Founding Father of the United States. He was a politician in colonial Massachusetts, a leader of the movement that became the American Revolution, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and other founding documents, and one of the architects of the principles of American republicanism that shaped the political culture of the United States. He was a second cousin to his fellow Founding Father, President John Adams.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Philadelphia Tea Party</span>

The Philadelphia Tea Party was an incident in late December 1773, shortly after the more famous Boston Tea Party, in which a British tea ship was intercepted by American colonists and forced to return its cargo to Great Britain.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Edenton Tea Party</span> 1774 American revolutionary protest

The Edenton Tea Party was a political protest in Edenton, North Carolina, in response to the Tea Act, passed by the British Parliament in 1773. Inspired by the Boston Tea Party and the calls for tea boycotts and the resolutions of the first North Carolina Provincial Congress, 51 women, led by Penelope Barker, met on October 25, 1774, and signed a statement of protest vowing to give up tea and boycott other British products "until such time that all acts which tend to enslave our Native country shall be repealed." The boycott was one of the events that led up to the American Revolution (1775–1781). It was the "first recorded women's political demonstration in America".

The Petition to His Majesty, The Memorial to the House of Lords and The Remonstrance to the House of Commons, commonly referred to collectively as the 1768 Petition, Memorial and Remonstrance, are a series of imprints that record a protest by the Virginia House of Burgesses in April 1768 that was sent to the British government by then-acting Lieutenant Governor John Blair.

The Boston Non-importation agreement was an 18th century boycott that restricted importation of goods to the city of Boston. This agreement was signed on August 1, 1768 by more than 60 merchants and traders. After two weeks, there were only 16 traders who did not join the effort. In the upcoming months and years, this non-importation initiative was adopted by other cities: New York joined the same year, Philadelphia followed a year later. Boston stayed the leader in forming an opposition to the mother country and its taxing policy. The boycott lasted until the 1770 when the British Parliament repealed the acts against which the Boston Non-importation agreement was meant.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Grievances of the United States Declaration of Independence</span> 27 colonial grievances listed in the Declaration of Independence

The 27 grievances is a section from the United States Declaration of Independence. The Second Continental Congress's Committee of Five drafted the document listing their grievances with the actions and decisions of King George III with regard to the Colonies in North America. The Second Continental Congress voted unanimously to adopt and issue the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.


  1. Plate opposite p. 58. Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress (40)
  2. Smith, George (January 17, 2012). The Boston tea party. The institute for humane studies and Retrieved April 20, 2018.
  3. Sosin, Jack M. (June 12, 2022). "The Massachusetts Acts of 1774: Coercive or Preventive". Huntington Library Quarterly. 26 (3): 235–252. doi:10.2307/3816653. JSTOR   3816653 . Retrieved June 12, 2022.
  4. Mitchell, Stacy (July 19, 2016). The big box swindle . Retrieved April 20, 2018.
  5. Benjamin L. Carp, Defiance of the Patriots: The Boston Tea Party and the Making of America (2010) ch. 1
  6. Labaree, Tea Party, 3–4.
  7. Knollenberg, Growth, 90.
  8. Knollenberg, Growth, 90; Labaree, Tea Party, 7.
  9. Labaree, Tea Party, 8–9.
  10. Labaree, Tea Party, 6–8; Knollenberg, Growth, 91; Thomas, Townshend Duties, 18.
  11. Labaree, Tea Party, 6.
  12. Labaree, Tea Party, 59.
  13. Labaree, Tea Party, 6–7.
  14. Labaree, Tea Party, 13; Thomas, Townshend Duties, 26–27. This kind of refund or rebate is known as a "drawback".
  15. Labaree, Tea Party, 21.
  16. Labaree, Tea Party, 27–30.
  17. Labaree, "Tea Party", 32–34.
  18. Knollenberg, Growth, 71; Labaree, Tea Party, 46.
  19. Labaree, Tea Party, 46–49.
  20. Labaree, Tea Party, 50–51.
  21. "Indemnity Act of 1767 - June 29, 1767". Indemnity Act of 1767. Revolutionary War and Beyond. Retrieved January 18, 2020.[ unreliable source? ]
  22. Labaree, Tea Party, 52.
  23. Young, Shoemaker, 183–85.
  24. The 1772 tax act was 12 Geo. 3. c. 60 sec. 1; Knollenberg, Growth, 351n12.
  25. Thomas, Townshend Duties, 248–49; Labaree, Tea Party, 334.
  26. Labaree, Tea Party, 58, 60–62.
  27. Dalrynple, William; Anand, Anita (August 15, 2022). "Company Rule in India". Empire (Podcast). Goalhanger. 28:25 minutes in. Retrieved August 31, 2022.
  28. Knollenberg, Growth, 90–91.
  29. Thomas, Townshend Duties, 252–54.
  30. Knollenberg, Growth, 91.
  31. Thomas, Townshend Duties, 250; Labaree, Tea Party, 69.
  32. Labaree, Tea Party, 70, 75.
  33. Knollenberg, Growth, 93.
  34. Labaree, Tea Party, 67, 70.
  35. Labaree, Tea Party, 75–76.
  36. James M. Volo (2012). The Boston Tea Party: The Foundations of Revolution. ABC-CLIO. p. 29. ISBN   978-0-313-39875-9.
  37. Labaree, Tea Party, 71; Thomas, Townshend Duties, 252.
  38. Thomas, Townshend Duties, 252.
  39. Labaree, Tea Party, 72–73.
  40. Labaree, Tea Party, 51.
  41. Thomas, Townshend Duties, 255; Labaree, Tea Party, 76–77.
  42. Labaree, Tea Party, 76–77.
  43. Labaree, Tea Party, 78–79.
  44. Labaree, Tea Party, 77, 335.
  45. Labaree, Tea Party, 89–90.
  46. Knollenberg, Growth, 96.
  47. Thomas, Townshend Duties, 246.
  48. Gross, David M. (2014). 99 Tactics of Successful Tax Resistance Campaigns. Picket Line Press. p. 129. ISBN   978-1490572741.
  49. Labaree, Tea Party, 106.
  50. Thomas, Townshend Duties, 245.
  51. Labaree, Tea Party, 102; see also John W. Tyler, Smugglers & Patriots: Boston Merchants and the Advent of the American Revolution (Boston, 1986).
  52. Thomas, Townshend Duties, 256.
  53. Knollenberg, Growth, 95–96.
  54. Knollenberg, Growth, 101.
  55. Labaree, Tea Party, 100. See also Alyn Brodsky, Benjamin Rush (Macmillan, 2004), 109.
  56. Letters of Benjamin Rush: Volume I: 1761-1792, To His Fellow Countrymen, On Patriotism, October 20, 1773
  57. Labaree, Tea Party, 97.
  58. Labaree, Tea Party, 96; Knollenberg, Growth, 101–02.
  59. Labaree, Tea Party, 96–100.
  60. Labaree, Tea Party, 104–05.
  61. This was not an official town meeting, but a gathering of "the body of the people" of greater Boston; Alexander, Revolutionary Politician, 123.
  62. Alexander, Revolutionary Politician, 124.
  63. Alexander, Revolutionary Politician, 123.
  64. 1 2 Raphael, Ray (2001), A people's history of the American Revolution: How common people shaped the fight for independence, The New Press, p.  18, ISBN   1-56584-653-2, On December 16, the day before customs officials were entitled to seize the cargo and land it themselves, an estimated 5,000 people traveled through a cold, steady rain to gather at the Old South Meeting House. (The entire population of Boston at the time was only about 16,000, children included.)
  65. Alexander, Revolutionary Politician, 125.
  66. Raphael, Founding Myths, 53.
  67. Maier, Old Revolutionaries, 27–28n32; Raphael, Founding Myths, 53. For firsthand accounts that contradict the story that Adams gave the signal for the tea party, see L. F. S. Upton, ed., "Proceeding of Ye Body Respecting the Tea," William and Mary Quarterly, Third Series, 22 (1965), 297–98; Francis S. Drake, Tea Leaves: Being a Collection of Letters and Documents, (Boston, 1884), LXX; Boston Evening-Post , December 20, 1773; Boston Gazette, December 20, 1773; Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter, December 23, 1773.
  68. "Boston Tea Party Historical Society".
  69. "Boston Tea Party Historical Society".
  70. Alexander, Revolutionary Politician, 125–26; Labaree, Tea Party, 141–44.
  71. "Where Was the Actual Boston Tea Party Site?". Archived from the original on December 13, 2010. Retrieved July 6, 2008.
  72. 1 2 UK Retail Price Index inflation figures are based on data from Clark, Gregory (2017). "The Annual RPI and Average Earnings for Britain, 1209 to Present (New Series)". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved June 11, 2022.
  73. "Boston Tea Party Damage". Boston Tea Party Ships. Retrieved May 29, 2020.
  74. Karttunen, Frances. "What is the significance of the ships' names over the door of the Pacific Club at the foot of Main Street?". Nantucket Historical Association. Retrieved May 29, 2020.
  75. Marissa Moss (2016). America's tea parties : not one but four! : Boston, Charleston, New York, Philadelphia. Abrams Books for Young Readers. p. 20. ISBN   978-1613129159.
  76. Diary of John Adams, March 8, 1774; Boston Gazette, March 14, 1774
  77. Alexander, Revolutionary Politician, p. 126.
  78. Alexander, Revolutionary Politician, 129.
  79. "From the diary of John Adams", National Archives and Records Administration
  80. Cobbett, Parliamentary History of England, XVII, pg. 1280-1281
  81. Richardson, Bruce. "Benjamin Franklin's Views on The Boston Tea Party" . Retrieved July 11, 2020.
  82. Ketchum, Divided Loyalties, 262.
  83. Ammerman, In the Common Cause, 15.
  84. "Boston Tea Party - United States History". Encyclopædia Britannica . Retrieved July 11, 2020.
  85. "The Shoemaker and the Tea Party". C-SPAN. November 21, 1999. Retrieved March 29, 2017.
  86. Adams, John (July 6, 1774). "John Adams to Abigail Adams". The Adams Papers: Digital Editions: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 1. Massachusetts Historical Society. Archived from the original on March 4, 2014. Retrieved February 25, 2014. I believe I forgot to tell you one Anecdote: When I first came to this House it was late in the Afternoon, and I had ridden 35 miles at least. "Madam" said I to Mrs. Huston, "is it lawfull for a weary Traveller to refresh himself with a Dish of Tea provided it has been honestly smuggled, or paid no Duties?" "No sir, said she, we have renounced all Tea in this Place. I cant make Tea, but I'le make you Coffee." Accordingly I have drank Coffee every Afternoon since, and have borne it very well. Tea must be universally renounced. I must be weaned, and the sooner, the better.
  87. Young, Shoemaker, xv.
  88. Young, Shoemaker.
  89. Erik H. Erikson, Gandhi's Truth: On the Origins of Militant Nonviolence (New York: Norton, 1969), 204.
  90. Erikson, Gandhi's Truth, 448.
  91. Young, Shoemaker, 197.
  92. Young, Shoemaker, 198.
  93. "Ron Paul's "tea party" breaks fund-raising record". Archived from the original on March 28, 2010. Retrieved September 14, 2009.
  94. Brown, Forrest (December 15, 2023). "An act 'so bold, so daring' that it's being re-enacted 250 years later". CNN. Retrieved December 16, 2023.
  95. Stoll, Shira; Monahan • •, J. C. (December 15, 2023). "This is the original tea from the Boston Tea Party". NBC Boston. Retrieved December 16, 2023.
  96. "Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum" . Retrieved June 20, 2013.
  97. Denehy 1906, p. 226.
  98. Tea thrown into Boston Harbor Dec. 16 1773. 1773.
  99. Colin Larkin, ed. (1997). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music (Concise ed.). Virgin Books. p. 1070. ISBN   1-85227-745-9.

General sources

Further reading