Boston Tea Party
The Boston Tea Party is considered to be the boiling point in a series of events leading up to the revolutionary war against the British. When a group of devout colonists, boarded British tea ships and unloaded their cargo into the Boston harbour, America would be changed forever. What was, at first, seen as an act of mischievous rebellion, turned out to be one of the most influential events in America s revolutionary history.
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It not only crippled the already struggling British tea industry but also, and more importantly, united the American people against British taxation and overall oppression. When the British increased taxes in America, the colonists responded with rebellious fury, most notably, the Boston Tea Party, but when Britain lashed back with even more force, it opened the eyes of Americans alike to the oppression they lived under.
For years, the American people opted to buy smuggled tea from Holland instead of paying the extra money on a taxed British tea. Not only was tea cheaper from Holland but many Americans did not want to pay the tax and contribute to British rule. When British Parliament passed the Tea Act in 1773, it allowed them to provide tea to America for cheaper than the smuggled tea. American tea merchants, unable to compete with this new low price, were put out of business. (Jones) This Act infuriated the colonial citizens who felt it unfair to favour their British tea dealers over American ones.
In retaliation, Samuel Adams led a group of 150 or so men disguised as Mohawk Indians boarded three British tea ships and proceeded to dump 343 chests of British tea into the ocean. (Cornell) When Bostonians refused to pay for the destroyed property, King George III and Parliament passed the so-called Intolerable Acts. One result was the closing of the port of Boston and forbid public meetings in Massachusetts. Essentially, the Intolerable Acts shut down the Massachusetts government entirely. These acts of oppression sparked the desire for change in the American people and were a major cause for the first continental congress, which took steps towards revolution and ultimately liberated the United States.
During the revolutionary process, propaganda was key in spreading revolutionary ideas across America and one of the leading propagandists, and engineers of rebellion (Carruth, 86), was Samuel Adams. Adams’s devotion to calling the attention of the people to British oppression earned him the title of the penman of the revolution. He organized the first committee of correspondence in Boston, which paved the way for similar committees to form in all of Massachusetts and eventually other colonies. The committee’s main purpose was to spread propaganda through pamphlets and demonstrations.
Through spreading propaganda, they reached people eager to join in the rebellion. British merchants or other supporters were tarred and feathered frequently in protest of Britain’s oppression. The Boston Tea Party, the climax of the propaganda movement, showed the colonists that they could make things hard for Britain. Because of the Boston Tea Party, a major milestone in the revolution was reached. For the first time, America practiced a full boycott of British goods. (Jannsen) A complete boycott was an important step because it showed the common American citizen as well as British authority that America could stand on its own without assistance from the mother country.
With the highly successful attacks on the British tea trade industry in ports up and down the coast, the American citizen gained power. Americans received word of the rebellion and how much damage it actually did. The East India tea Company had made its tea cheaper in the last attempt to avoid bankruptcy and when Americans refused to buy British tea and dumped what tea they could get their hands on, the company fizzled into almost nothing. (McGranahan) The East India Company was one of England’s top revenue producers and when it went down England felt it. This, however, was not enough.
In order to push the British into either separating from America or renouncing the oppressive restrictions, more support was necessary. With the Boston Tea Party, Americans saw what they could do with a hundred and fifty or so men and were confident that if united, they could possibly take steps towards revolution. One problem remained, they were not united but divided, and it would take a remarkable event to accomplish the enormous task.
Britain’s closing of Boston’s port coupled with the Quebec Act, which gave desired land west of the Appalachians to the French, not to mention the rest of the Intolerable Acts, pushed American citizens into a frenzy. The suffering of Massachusetts and Boston, in particular, was received with great sympathy by the southern colonies. They were so sympathetic, they summoned a Continental Congress which met in Philadelphia. (PBS Online) The most influential member of the congress was John Adams.
He persuaded the fellow members to narrowly pass a proposal for a species of American home rule under British direction. (Carruth, 88) Yet more significant, the Continental Congress created the Association which called for a complete boycott of all British goods. This step pushed Britain over the edge. They realized that they could no longer control America and moved closer to war. The Americans did not want a revolution, simply a reprieve from oppressive legislation but as time went on they could also sense an inevitable conflict and continued their efforts in uniting their nation by spreading propaganda and readying their militias.
The Boston Tea Party was one of the most effective pieces of political theatre ever staged. It did so many things for America s independence; most importantly, the event gave Americans a sense of power and showed them that they could fight back and make a difference. The Tea Party served as the springboard to more revolutionary steps that eventually led to our independence. John Adams said about the event, there is a dignity, a majesty, a sublimity, in this last effort of the patriots that I greatly admire. It was a bold, risky, yet necessary action that legitimately established America as its own nation long before independence was achieved.
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