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Tea and Coffee, Boston Tea Party, Featured Article.Edit
DECEMBER 16, 1773
On May 10, 1773, the British parliament authorized the East India Co., which faced bankruptcy due to corruption and mismanagement, to export a half a million pounds of tea to the American colonies for the purpose of selling it without imposing upon the company the usual duties and tariffs. With these privileges, the company could undersell American merchants and monopolize the colonial tea trade. Not only did this action create an unfair commerce to the merchants of the colonies but it proved to be the spark that revived American passions about the issue of taxation without representation. To fully understand the resentment of the colonies to Great Britain and King George III, one must understand that this was not the first time that the colonists were treated unfairly. In previous years, the 13 colonies saw a number of commercial tariffs including the Sugar Act of 1764, which taxed sugar, coffee, and wine, the Stamp Act of 1765, which put a tax on all printed matter, such as newspapers and playing cards, and the Townshend Acts of 1767 which placed taxes on items like glass, paints, paper, and tea. The Tea Act of 1773 was the last straw.
Three ships from London, the Dartmouth, theEleanor and the Beaver, sailed into Boston Harbor from November 28th to December 8, 1773. Loaded with tea from the East India Company, they were all anchored at Griffin’s Wharf but were prevented from unloading their cargo. Fearing that the tea would be seized for failure to pay customs duties, and eventually become available for sale, something had to be done. Demanding that the tea be returned to where it came from or face retribution, the Sons of Liberty, led by Samuel Adams began to meet to determine the fate of the three cargo ships in the Boston harbor.
On the cold evening of December 16, 1773, a large band of patriots, disguised as Mohawk Indians, burst from the South Meeting House with the spirit of freedom burning in their eyes. The patriots headed towards Griffin's Wharf and the three ships. Quickly, quietly, and in an orderly manner, the Sons of Liberty boarded each of the tea ships. Once on board, the patriots went to work striking the chests with axes and hatchets. Thousands of spectators watched in silence. Only the sounds of ax blades splitting wood rang out from Boston Harbor. Once the crates were open, the patriots dumped the tea into the sea.
The silence was broken only by the cry of "East Indian" as patriots caught CharlesO'Conner filling the lining of his coat with tea. George Hewes removed O'Connor's coat, threatened him with death if he revealed the identity of any man present, and sent him scurrying out of town. The patriots worked feverishly, fearing an attack by Admiral Montague at any moment. By nine o'clock p.m., the Sons of Liberty had emptied a total of 342 crates of tea into Boston Harbor. Fearing any connection to their treasonous deed, the patriots took off their shoes and shook them overboard. They swept the ships' decks, and made each ship's first mate attest that only the tea was damaged.
When all was through, Lendall Pitts led the patriots from the wharf, tomahawks and axes resting on their shoulders. A fife played as they marched past the home where British Admiral Montague had been spying on their work. Montague yelled as they past, "Well boys, you have had a fine, pleasant evening for your Indian caper, haven't you? But mind, you have got to pay the fiddler yet!"
Montague's words were to be an omen for the patriots. The party was indeed over for Boston.
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