Top 10 Facts About The Boston Tea Party

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The Boston Tea Party represents one of the monumental turning points in the history of the United States mainly because it constitutes the first act of sheer defiance of the people towards the government. Allegedly an act that stemmed from the refusal of the common people to accept the ruling of the British empire, there is far more to the mob that dumped over 342 containers of tea in the waters of the Boston Harbor on the night of December 16, 1773. The midnight raiding of the three ships has gone down in history, but many of us are not familiar with all the implications of the brash gesture or the real reasons behind it.


1. There was no tea tax hike, as it is assumed

Many people erroneously believe that the colonists were upset because the government wanted to impose a higher excise on the tea. That is not true, because in fact the “Tea Act” passed by the British authorities would still have allowed them to acquisition it for less than half of what it cost in Britain. The Tea Act was actually reducing the taxes paid by the East India Company, in an attempt to save the giant corporation for bankruptcy. However, the colonists were still not very fond of the earlier Townshend Acts that were passed without their consent. The new law that was approved without the support of the people or the parliament enraged them to the point of revolt.


2. Commercial interests rather than moral principles played a key role

The bailout received by dying the East India Company had another important effect, namely that it also handed them the keys to the monopoly on tea trade in the colonies. In other words, being exempt from taxes meant a huge advantage for EIC and consequentially, a huge blow for the business of colonial merchants and Dutch tea smugglers. And yes, many of the people involved in the midnight raid – including John Hancock – had a direct commercial interest. So much for pure morals!


3. George Washington did not support the actions of the Boston Tea Party

In spite of the fact that George Washington is perceived as the most important revolutionary in the American history, he did not concur with the actions of the Boston Tea Party. However, he did agree that the raid mirrored the public opinion on the British government and that the tea partiers only did what everyone was thinking about. On the other hand, the sanctity of private property was prevalent in those days and that is why Washington stated that the East India Company is entitled to financial compensation from the perpetrators. And, believe it or not, he had a strong support from political elites and the common people on this one.


4. The punitive measures of the British Empire brought the colonists closer together

True, a great percentage of the colonists shared the views of George Washington, as the perception towards the Boston Tea Party at the time was that it was an act of pure, unmitigated vandalism. Unfortunately, not even they believed that the punitive measures of the British government in response to the raid were justified. In essence, in the wake of the incursion, the Brits “went medieval” on the colonists, closing down the harbor, annulling Massachusetts’ right to self govern and expanding the dreaded Quartering act. These actions proved a really bad move from the British Empire, as the colonists catalogued them as intolerable and their comeback was the birth of the original Continental Congress.


5. The real identities of the Boston Tea Party were kept hidden for several decades

As previously mentioned, due to the potential repercussions and the lack of public support, the Boston Tea Party members were not so eager to divulge their implication in the raiding of the EIC ships. Knowing that they could face criminal charges as well as lose the support of the elites, they kept the lid on their identities for many years. In fact, even nowadays we still do not know all the names of the participants to the incursion.


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