16 December 1773: The Boston Tea Party protest

On this day in 1773 the 'Sons of Liberty' carried out the Boston Tea Party protest, destroying over 92,000lb of tea, and paving the way for the American Revolution.

Few people would have guessed that throwing crates of tea off a ship would lead to one of the biggest revolutions in history. Yet, on this day in 1773 a group calling itself the Sons of Liberty carried out the Boston Tea Party protest and paved the way for the American Revolution.

The group, dressed as native Americans and led by Samuel Adams, an unsuccessful businessman and tax collector, boarded the ship and destroyed 2,000 chests, containing 92,000 lb of tea, by throwing them into the sea. The tea belonged to the powerful and influential East India Company.

The spark for the protest was the Tea Act of May 1773. The new law forced the 13 American colonies to buy their tea from the East India Company. The company was in dire financial straits and had much more tea stored in its British warehouses than it was able to sell. Technically, the Tea Act was not a tax. But it did give the East India Company such a total monopoly that many, including Adams and the Sons of Liberty, viewed it as one. Their slogan was “no taxation without representation”.

The Tea Party was a spark for revolution, and the British provided most of the fuel. Their response was harsh. Parliament in London passed laws in 1774 known as the Coercive Acts that ended local self-rule in Massachusetts and entirely closed the port of Boston.

As a result of the Coercive Acts, more and more acts of defiance sprang up across the 13 colonies. The cycle of escalation continued until both sides were at war. By 1778 the situation had got so out of hand that parliament passed the Taxation of the Colonies Act 1778, which repelled the Tea Tax as well as others.

But it was all too little too late. Ten years after the Boston Tea Party protest, in 1783, the guns of war fell silent and the colonies became fully independent. Samuel Adams became one of the Founding Fathers of the United States.

Recommended

Which companies will lose the most from the energy windfall tax?
Energy stocks

Which companies will lose the most from the energy windfall tax?

The government’s new energy windfall tax has muddied the waters for investors and companies alike. Rupert Hargreaves explains how it might affect some…
27 May 2022
The MoneyWeek Podcast with Russell Napier at the Library of Mistakes
Investment strategy

The MoneyWeek Podcast with Russell Napier at the Library of Mistakes

Merryn talks to Russell Napier about Edinburgh’s Library of Mistakes, the age of debt and financial repression, plus why he has never invested in Chin…
27 May 2022
Cryptocurrency roundup: another torrid week for crypto
Bitcoin & crypto

Cryptocurrency roundup: another torrid week for crypto

Cryptocurrencies suffered yet another intense week. Saloni Sardana rounds up the week's crypto news.
27 May 2022
Ocado faces a “crunch” year – should you buy or avoid?
Share tips

Ocado faces a “crunch” year – should you buy or avoid?

Ocado was one of the big winners from the pandemic as customers moved online. But now it’s struggling, and losses are growing. So, asks Rupert Hargrea…
27 May 2022

Most Popular

The world’s hottest housing markets are faltering – is the UK next?
House prices

The world’s hottest housing markets are faltering – is the UK next?

As interest rates rise, house prices in the world’s most overpriced markets are starting to fall. The UK’s turn will come, says John Stepek. But will …
23 May 2022
Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust has fallen hard. But is now the time to buy?
Investment trusts

Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust has fallen hard. But is now the time to buy?

After a spectacular couple of decades, the Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust has fallen by almost 45% so far this year. Rupert Hargreaves asks if no…
26 May 2022
Is it time to pick up growth stock bargains yet?
Investment strategy

Is it time to pick up growth stock bargains yet?

If you’re thinking of picking up some bargains from the tech stock crash, beware – there are still plenty of “growth traps” out there. John Stepek exp…
26 May 2022