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

1 April 1999: The minimum wage is introduced in Britain
This day in history

1 April 1999: The minimum wage is introduced in Britain

On this day in 1999, the national minimum wage was introduced in Britain, bringing an instant pay rise to 1.9 million low-paid workers.
1 Apr 2021
27 February 1900: The launch of the Labour Party
This day in history

27 February 1900: The launch of the Labour Party

Responding to the need for a single political party to represent the trade unions, the Labour Party was formed on this day in 1900.
27 Feb 2021
24 February 1981: Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer announce their engagement
This day in history

24 February 1981: Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer announce their engagement

On this day in 1981, Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer made their engagement official in front of the world's press at Buckingham Palace.
24 Feb 2021
24 February 1809: Drury Lane theatre burns down
This day in history

24 February 1809: Drury Lane theatre burns down

On this day in 1809, celebrated playwright Richard Sheridan was effectively ruined when the Drury Lane theatre went up in smoke.
24 Feb 2021

Most Popular

The bitcoin bubble will burst: here’s how to play it
Bitcoin

The bitcoin bubble will burst: here’s how to play it

The cryptocurrency’s price has soared far beyond its fundamentals, says Matthew Partridge. Here, he looks at how to short bitcoin.
12 Apr 2021
Central banks are rushing to build digital currencies. What are they, and what do they mean for you?
Bitcoin

Central banks are rushing to build digital currencies. What are they, and what do they mean for you?

As bitcoin continues to soar in value, many of the world’s central banks are looking to emulate it by issuing their own digital currencies. But centra…
8 Apr 2021
Four investment trusts for income investors to buy now
Investment trusts

Four investment trusts for income investors to buy now

Some high-yielding listed lending funds have come through the crisis with flying colours. David Stevenson picks four of the best.
12 Apr 2021