Many events have shaped American history, but few have had such an impact as the Boston Tea Party. This important event took place at the Boston Harbor in Massachusetts on December 16, 1773. During this time, tea was an essential import trade item. Much of the tea was imported from the East Indies, and in 1698 Europe allowed them to have a total monopoly on all tea imports. The tea was taxed, but in the 1760s, English parliament decided to impart some of the taxes onto the colonists in order to get more money coming into the townships. The colonies rebelled by protesting, and by boycotting tea coming from the East India Trading Company.


The taxes that had been levied were a part of something called the Townshend Revenue Act of 1767. Many colonists simply chose to stop drinking English tea, while others took their concerns to the congress of that time. In 1770, the taxes were repealed by parliament, but the taxes on the tea itself remained. The Prime Minister at that time felt it was a right to tax American colonists, and so the import tax on tea persisted. Because the tax of three pence per pound on tea remained, the colonists continued to boycott it however it kept being imported, leaving them with an overabundance of tea. In addition, tea smugglers were often found bringing in tea untaxed and illegally.


More laws were introduced to come up with an amiable solution, including the Tea Act of 1773. This act insisted upon the tea importation tax, passing it on to the colonists. Opposition to the Tea Act grew, and protesters began to discuss ways to fight the taxation in Massachusetts, since theirs was the only colony still subjected to the forced taxation and delivery of tea. Ships were already on their way to several harbors, full of tea, when colonists found out about the Tea Act. While most colonies turned them away, Governor Hutchinson of Massachusetts insisted they arrive in Boston and deliver their cargo. This enraged the citizens, who organized a massive protest at the harbor.


Samuel Adams decided to hold a meeting to discuss the incident, and it was reported that over 7,000 people had gathered. Once the boat began to arrive, the people became enraged, and stormed the harbor. In protest, they began to destroy the barrels of tea that had arrived. Some were said to have been disguised as Mohawk Indians. The tea was dumped into the Boston Harbor, and over 300 chests of the tea were thrown into the water. Today, the "Boston Tea Party" is known as one of the most significant showings of government opposition in the United States. It serves as an inspiration to many and reminds us that we must stand up and fight for our rights.


> For more information about the Boston Tea Party, please refer to the following websites...

  • Eyewitness Account – One colonist’s eyewitness account of the famous event.
  • Tea Party Webquest – Educational webquest for students about the Boston Tea Party.
  • About the Boston Tea Party – More information about the Boston Tea Party.
  • The Struggle for Liberty – History and background of the Boston Tea Party and the fight for liberty.
  • Background & Photos – Some artwork depicting the event as well as background information.
  • Video – This educational video discusses the famous Boston Tea Party and the events surrounding it.
  • The Revolutionary Era – This site discusses the many important aspects of America’s revolutionary era, including the Boston Tea Party.
  • Massachusetts – The state of Massachusetts’ site and its discussion of the Tea Party.
  • Painting – One example of many famous paintings depicting the famous Boston event.

Learn America's Heritage: The Boston Tea Party