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The Boston Tea Party

The Boston Tea Party was a prelude to the American Revolutionary War

On December 16, 1773, a group of protesters disguised as Native Americans slipped aboard three British cargo ships that were moored in Boston Harbor. They broke open over 340 chests of tea and dumped the contents into the cold, salty water.

This event in American history, known as the Boston Tea Party, became a defining symbol of American colonist's dissatisfaction with the way they were being treated by the British parliament.

The years leading up to the Tea Party had already found many Americans feeling disenfranchised with British rule and throughout the colonies was a growing anger over what was being called "taxation without representation."

The Tea Act, a bill that had been passed by parliament in April 1773 was meant to save the British East India Company from going bankrupt. It guaranteed lower taxes to be paid to the British government by the company. The bill gave the company the right to sell it's tea at a lower price to the colonies.

Because all tea sold legally in the colonies came through Great Britain, it gave the British East India Company a virtual monopoly on the sale of tea, even the tea that was illegally smuggled into the colonies untaxed.

Although the tea was cheaper, many colonists felt that the Tea Act was just another attempt by the British parliament to exert it's ability to rule the colonies without political representation by the colonists themselves.

Three British cargo ships, the Beaver, the Dartmouth, and the Eleanor had already been denied entry to ports in New York, Philadelphia, and Charleston. By the time the ships reached Boston, the anger in the colonies had reached a boiling point. Protesters in Boston decided to prevent the ships from being unloaded and set about destroying the tea.

Although no one was killed or injured during the incident, it was a direct threat to British authority. Parliament's reaction was to prevent shipping in and out of Boston. It passed the Coercive Acts in 1774.

Called the "Intolerable Acts" by the colonists, the Coercive Acts limited the rights of Americans who, at that time, were considered British subjects. It imposed military rule in Massachusetts and made it mandatory that the colonists provide living quarters for British troops in their homes. It also granted British officials immunity from prosecution in colonial courts.

The Coercive Acts further deepened animosity between Great Britain and it's American colonies. As a result, the colonists convened the First Continental Congress in which the leaders of Great Britain were asked to repeal the Coercive Acts.

As tensions escalated, there were more acts of protest throughout the colonies that galvanized the people to unite and form a union that would fight for independence and eventually become the United States of America.



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