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The Boston Tea Party




The Boston Tea Party was a radical act by the British colony of Massachusetts against the British monarchy and the East India Company that controlled the imported tea into the colonies. After a dispute over the return of taxed tea, a group of colonists decided to ransack the cargo ships and dump the tea into the Boston Harbor. Many political protests herald this incident as an iconic event in American history. Here are some of the most important events relating to the Boston Tea Party.

1764

Sugar Act

Purely motivated by profit, Parliament passes the first law focused on raising colonial money for the ruling class. Preceding this vote, the Molasses Act of 1733 enacted a tax per gallon of molasses; however, it was never effectively enforced due to colonial invasion.
Once the British reduced the rate by half, the measures to enforce the tax were increased. Both
taxes fueled the flames of resistance, which eventually led to the American Revolutionary War.

Currency Act

The Parliament of Great Britain imposed the Currency Act, a combination of several acts aimed at regulating paper money issued by colonial America. The series of acts protected the British merchants and creditors from receiving devalued colonial currency. Therefore, the Currency Act created tension between the colonies and Great Britain. Many scholars cite the Currency Act as one of the few events to encourage the onset of the American Revolutionary War.

Beginnings of Colonial Opposition

The Sugar and Currency Acts stirred public outcry among the American colonialists, insofar that many responded with protests. For instance, the colonists in Massachusetts gathered together in a town meeting to voice their disposition against the taxation without representation as imposed by Parliament. Within one year, many colonies refused the importation of English goods.

1765

Quartering Act

The British government furthered its attempts at controlling the colonies by requiring local governments to provide barracks and supplies to British troops. These were amendments to the Mutiny Act of prior years, which Parliament renewed annually. The Quartering Act was one more stepping stone toward the American Revolutionary War.

Stamp Act

The Stamp Act was Parliament's first direct tax on the American colonies. The Stamp Act was
passed to increase income into the hands of the British government, similar to the series of acts
passed in 1764. The Stamp Act taxed newspapers, pamphlets, documents, playing cards, dice, maps, and almanacs. This act required the colonists to affix postage stamps to personal and
legal documents, including the aforementioned items to show that the tax had been directly
paid to the British government.

Organized Colonial Protest

The colonists promptly responded to Parliament's enactments by organizing protests.
Among them were the Sons of Liberty, a secret network created to intimidate stamp agents who
collected the taxes imposed by Parliament. In fact, all of the appointed stamp agents had
resigned before the Stamp Act could take full effect. The Massachusetts Assembly united the colonies to collaborate on repealing the Stamp Act. In response to The Stamp Act, Congress passed the “Declaration of Rights and Grievances,” which dictated that American colonists were equal to other British citizens. This document clearly opposed taxation without representation, and stated that the British government could not tax colonists without a colonial representative in Parliament.

1766

Repeal of the Stamp Act

A division in Parliament ensured over the enforcement of the Stamp Act in 1765. A portion of
representatives supported military action, whereas others commended the colonists for
resisting a tax passed by a legislative body outside of their local governments. This rift allowed
for the repeal of the Stamp Act, which led to the abandonment of the colonial ban against
imported British goods.

Declaratory Act

The Declaratory Act was passed on the same day Parliament repealed the Stamp Act. This
signaled that Parliament was not relinquishing its control over the colonies. In fact, the
Declaratory Act reinforced its control by citing that Parliament could create and pass any laws
binding the American colonies under any circumstances.

Resistance to the Quartering Act in New York

New York served as the headquarters for British troops residing in America as outlined by the
Quartering Act in 1765. The Quartering Act made a huge impact on New York City, whereby
a violent protest occurred that severely injured one colonist. Therefore, Parliament responded by
suspending all of the New York Assembly's powers before actually enforcing its orders. The
Assembly agreed to support the quartering of troops once their powers were revoked and then
reinstated.

1767

Townshend Acts

Parliament extended its control over the American colonies by passing the Townshend Acts.
The British government claimed it was to pay the expenses involved in governing the American
colonies, including the salaries of governors and judges stationed in American independent of colonial rule. The Townshend Acts taxed glass, paint, paper, tea, and lead. The Townshend Acts
were met with resistance in the colonies, which prompted the British troops to occupy Boston in
1768. This occupation led to the Boston Massacre of 1770.

Non-importation

Additionally, the colonies decided to respond against the Townshend Acts and other related
taxes by boycotting the importation of British goods. In fact, the resistance was encouraged by
a Pennsylvanian farmer who declared the Townshend Acts and suspension of the New York
Assembly unconstitutional and a threat to the colonial liberties. The Pennsylvanian farmer’s l letter was published in the newspaper, and reproduced by John Dickinson.

1768

Massachusetts Circular Letter

Samuel Adams authored a statement with the approval of the Massachusetts House of
Representatives. The letter attacked Parliament's recurring attempts to tax the American
colonies without representation. Additionally, the letter called for organized resistance by all
of the colonies, which sparked a whirlwind of support from neighboring colonies. The British
governor of Massachusetts resigned the state's legislature. British troops regroup and
organize in Boston, despite multiple threats from the Sons of Liberty to incite armed resistance
to all arriving British troops.

1769

Virginia's Resolutions

The Virginia House of Burgesses passed resolutions that condemned Parliament's
actions against Massachusetts. More specifically, the resolutions stated that only Virginia's
governor and legislature can tax its citizens. The members also drafted a letter to the King,
which promptly resulted in the decision by Virginia's royal governor to dissolve its legislature.

1770

Townshend Acts Cut Back

Parliament withdrew the entire Townshend Act of 1767, with the exception of the tea tax,
because of decreased profits resulting from the non-importation boycott of all British goods. This was one of the most influential decisions leading to the American Revolution. 

A Colonial End to Non-importation

In response to Parliament's loosened grip of its taxation stranglehold, the colonies lifted their
boycott of British imports in 1767.

Conflict Ensues Between Colonists and British Troops in New York

The Sons of Liberty formulated an attack on the New York Assembly for complying with the
Quartering Act of 1765. As a result, a riot erupted between the residing colonists and British
troops, which resulted in severely wounded participants. Fortunately, no casualties came as a
result of the skirmish.

Boston Massacre

The arrival of British troops in Boston on March 5th , sparked conflict between the colonists and soldiers, which became known as the Boston Massacre. A group of British troops were
surrounded by a violent mob, which resulted in open fire, fatally wounding three colonists and
two British troops. Parliament responded by withdrawing all British troops to the surrounding
islands within the harbor. The British troops involved in the original attack were tried for
murder, but convicted of lesser crimes. John Adams represented these troops during their trial.

1772

The Attack of the “Gaspee.”

The royal governor of Rhode Island offered a reward to a group of men who attacked a
grounded British schooner near Providence, Rhode Island. The royal governor wished to send
the men to Great Britain for trial. The American colonists were outraged by the proposal to remove the “Gaspee” trial from American shores to Great Britain.

The Committees of Correspondences

Samuel Adams petitioned for a committee of correspondence at a Boston town meeting in
order to briefly communicate Boston's position to the other American colonies. Other
committees of correspondences were set up after its succession.

1773

The Tea Act

The Tea Act of 1773 permitted British merchants to advantageously sell their tea to the
American colonies. Parliament passed the Tea Act after reducing the tax on imported British
tea. The American colonists responded to the act with condemnation, with a small sect ready
to boycott all imported British tea.

The Boston Tea Party

Once the British tea ships arrived in the Boston harbor, many colonists demanded that the tea
return to Great Britain without payment of taxes. The royal governor of Boston denied
these demands by insisting that the colonists pay the taxes imposed onto them. On December 16th , 1773, A group of men assembled together disguised as Indians and then boarded the ships on invasion. The men proceeded to dump all of the tea into the harbor as a protest against the imposed tea tax.



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