Bostonians, like Philadelphians and New Yorkers were involved in the Dutch trade, that is, smuggling of tea and other commodities and got into colonial non-importation agreements. However, some Bostonian traders violated the nonimportation treaties by importing tea. This essay discusses the significance of the Boston tea Party, Events that provoked the Tea party, impact of the tea party on the cultural experience of Americans and how it coincides with the theme of What it is to be an American.
In 1776, the parliament passed the Townshend act and imposition of duties on products that were imported into the British colonies which led to colonial protests. The parliament saved the duty imposed on tea in order to show their power and right to keep colonial revenue raised with no colonial approval. Boston merchants did not follow the act and continued receiving smuggled tea from Dutch traders.
In a bid to aid the financially struggling East India Company, a Tea Act, the act granted the Company: an exemption on the export tax, refund on taxes owed on tea surpluses in its possession, and a monopoly on all tea that was exported to the colonies. Tea that was exported to the colonies was to be sold and carried by East India Company through its agents leaving out the independent merchants and colonial shippers. This act was also formed to help avoid financial ruin since the East India Company had most of its warehouses in England and most were full.
This monopoly perception led to formation of alliance between conservative merchants with Radicals with Samuel Adams and his Sons of liberty. Tea agents in Charleston, Philadelphia and New York cancelled orders and traders refused deliveries. In Boston on the other hand, Thomas Hutchinson, the royal governor, tried to uphold the law by allowing the three arriving ships; the Beaver, Eleanor and the Dartmouth to deliver their cargo and maintained that their cargoes be delivered and duties be honored. This Tea Act was seen by colonialists as a bid to get them to pay Tax. Worse the East India Company had been viewed as a Monopoly and the Colonies did not want to see another monopoly form.
Dressed up as Mohawk Indians, sixty men encouraged by Bostonian crowds in December 16th 1773, moved to the Griffin’s wharf, got on board of three ships and dumped all the tea that was in the ships. 342 chests of tea valued at over 10,000 pounds were emptied into the ocean. This event came to be known as the Boston Tea Party.
The first ship, the Dartmouth, arrived in Boston on 27th November 1773; it was stopped by the committee of correspondence and sons of liberty from unloading their tea. Eleanor and beaver, which were the next two ships, came later and were also stopped. At the time tea was not to be unloaded in Twenty Days that was to be on December 17th. On December 16th, Samuel Adams addressed a crowd gathered at the Old South Meeting house. He then made the planned signal which was closing by saying his meeting can do nothing to save this country. The sixty men let out a war cry and headed to Griffin’s wharf. The men went to the ships and asked the Captains for the keys and candle lights. Disposal of the tea was completed in three hours and no one was harmed except for the tea.
The immediate impact of the Boston Tea Party was to create rivalry and animosity between the British and the Americans. Americans had tried to send the British tea back but were not allowed to do so. While the British tea was cheaper, it had tax on it, this led to smugglers of Dutch tea into the country. If the Americans were to buy the tea from Britain, would be taken as an agreement of the Americans on the tax that was to be imposed. The reaction of the Americans made the colonialist Furious. The Americans saw the imposition of this tax on them as a restriction of their liberty.
The Boston Tea party was the first attempt of violent by the colonists against the government. this made it one of the key events as the country was moving towards the American revolution. Well, the American Revolution never started overnight but was an event that was caused by a series of other minor events against the British government. the Boston Tea Party was the turning point in history as it was the first time the colonialist decided to stand up for themselves against oppression imposed on them by the Great Britain.
It was a message to the British government that the colonists would not pay taxes on tea. The masked men only destroyed the tea and were careful not to damage anything else. By not committing acts of thoughtless vandalism but being specific to what they were against by the act the colonists had sent their message. This display was also vital as the colonist were trying to show that they were aware that the colonists’ taxes money was being used to repay British war debts. The message of the colonists was that they would not pay taxes on tea.
The responses of the British after the Boston Tea party helped in accelerating the American Revolution. The British felt they needed to punish the colonists for the rebellion. Such punishment came in form of intolerable acts which the colonists saw as an attempt by the parliament to gain and show that they had full control over the colonist. The colonists were growing independent rising confident in their self-independence. This made them feel that they did not need the help of the British government in order to be governed. Just two years after the Boston Tea Party the American Revolution war broke out. The revolutionary war resulted into the declaration of independence and the second continental congress.
While it might not have heard immediate results, the Boston tea party accelerated the feeling of patriotism among the Americans. It was a motivation to the colonists to fight for their lives and risk going to war for independence sake. It was not only an inspiration to the Americans but it led to other rebellions against injustice in other countries across the globe. For example Mahatma Gandhi is known to refer to the Boston Tea Party.
The respect to every citizen’s right and freedom in the country is as a result of the Boston tea party. Americans did not want any taxation without representation. Boston Tea party is the mother of most revolutions and protests in the country. The country has been known to push for respect of rights and freedoms or even laws by demonstrating against oppressive laws. Every right and freedom that people enjoy today is as a result of the determination and bravery that the early colonists had. Further the declaration of independence is celebrated today as one of the most important document in the country. The country’s independence which is celebrated every Fourth of July is as a result of what started off as the Boston tea party and grew into the American Revolution.
The theme what it is to be an American refers to the characteristics of an American citizen. To be an American means having the freedom to make your own decision free of oppression or imposition by an institution. Further an American is to be proud of the country and brave. The interest of the country has to be put before the interest of other countries. Boston Tea party portrays this well. The colonists were brave enough to fight for their rights and freedom from oppression from the British governments. They also had the countries interest at hand and tried to protect themselves from serving the interest of Britain.
Copeland, David A. Debating the Issues in Colonial Newspapers: Primary Documents on Events of the Period. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 2000
Tovar, Alicia. The Boston Tea Party: No Taxation Without Representation. 2016.
Kennedy, Frances H. The American Revolution: A Historical Guidebook. 2014.
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