The Boston Tea Party is arguably one of the most critical events in the history of the United States of America. It was a protest conceived by the Americans against the unfair tax imposed on them by the British government, specifically on tea. “No taxation without representation” was the slogan that echoed throughout America in those days.
In 1773, Frederick North, the then prime minister of Britain, introduced the Tea Act in the parliament and was passed on May 10, 1773. The law allowed the British East India Company to export and sell tea directly to American and reduce the exporting duty of the commodity. The company selected specific merchants in American colonies to sell the tea. The tea that was sold in America was produced in China, and the East India Company sold this tea to combat the tea smugglers that are becoming quite common in America. It was reported that 86% of the tea in the country were smuggled tea from the Dutch.
At this time, the warehouses of the company had millions of tea that are stocked, and the company was going through a financial crisis since they cannot sell their tea, mainly due to the fact that smuggled tea was cheaper for Americans to buy. The Tea Act was a blessing for the East India Company, as they could sell tea for a comparatively low price in America where tea was very popular. However, the East India Company was the only one allowed to export tea because of the law, and since the tea from the company is taxed by the British government, the merchants who are buying tea from East India must pay taxes as well.
The law eventually triggered a response that is exactly opposite to that conceived by the British government, as they sought to stop smuggling and make tea available for everybody. While the tea is becoming less expensive, the tea merchants in American colonies were extremely unhappy because the law gave a monopoly to East India Company. A monopoly is a type of business wherein only one company rules the market, and for the Americans’ case, it was the East India Company. The merchants decided to respond strongly to the law, and the people living in the colonies were also supportive of their native traders. As a sign of protest, they abandoned the use of tea and found alternative drinks like coffee. The people also organized several protests against the controversial law. One of the demonstrations involved the meeting with the traders who previously ventured to sell the tea from the East India Company and were now withdrawing from the agreement with the company.
Many of those traders didn’t agree with the deal proposed by the East India Company. However, what happened in the colony of Massachusetts during that time was an entirely different story. Thomas Hutchinson, the then governor of the state, was a very tough administrator who favored the British government. He ignored the protests of the people and encouraged the traders and merchants, which included his sons, to keep selling the tea in their area.
Day by day, the level of intensity in the protests increased, as residents are getting angrier at the British government, who forcefully returned the ships from New York and Philadelphia that carried tea. However, three other ships carrying tea reached the port of Boston in November and December. The protestors couldn’t convince the crew of these ships to return them, and the events that ensued were theatrical.
On the evening of December 16, more than a hundred protesters invaded the Boston port and boarded the tea-carrying ships. Disguised as Mohawk warriors or Native Americans, they were divided into three groups, with each group invading one of the three ships. They picked up all of the 342 chests of tea in the shops and threw them out into the sea.
The glorious event went on to be regarded in American history as one of the most important protests that changed the country forever. Written in record books as the Boston Tea Party, the event is significant in the rise of the American Revolution that occurred several years after. The British government responded to the tea incident with harsher steps, thus further sparking anger amongst Americans. The anger turned into a revolution, and the revolution gave way to the freedom of America with the signing of the United States Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.