1 June 1774: Britain closes the US port of Boston

The Boston Port Act came in to force on this day in 1774, closing the American port of Boston to all shipping and stoking resentment in the 13 colonies.

The sight of 340 chests of tea bobbing up and down in the water is enough to make a Briton cry. But not only was it a shocking waste of a cuppa, it was also darn expensive. By the British East India Company's reckoning, the 92,000 pounds of tea that was tipped over board in December 1773 cost them £9,659. 

The British government was furious. The destruction of the tea meant a serious loss of tax revenue. But for the perpetrators, the rebellious Sons of Liberty, it had never been about the tax. When the 13 colonies eventually became independent from Britain in 1784, the newly created United States government also taxed tea. Rather it was the lack of political representation in parliament.

Back in London, the Boston Tea Party, as the incident later on become known, provoked howls of protest. Lord North's government was determined to make Boston pay back every last penny for the tea that was lost. And until it had done so, the city wasn't allowed to enjoy its port, which was one of the most important in North America.

In March 1774, the Trade Act, better known as the Boston Port Act, passed through parliament. It stipulated that from 1 June that year, the port would be blockaded, and closed to all shipping. No goods could be landed, and no cargo loaded.

The problem was, the act lumped all the Bostonians together. It wasn't just the rebels who were being punished, everybody was. Even those colonists who were favourably disposed towards the mother country felt hard done by.

It's for that reason the Boston Port Act formed one of the so-called intolerable acts' that led to open rebellion and the American War of Independence two years later.

Recommended

16 January 1991: Operation Desert Storm begins
This day in history

16 January 1991: Operation Desert Storm begins

Coalition forces led by the US launched an operation to liberate Kuwait from Iraqi forces on this day in 1991, sending the oil price soaring.
16 Jan 2021
15 January 1892: the rules of basketball are published
This day in history

15 January 1892: the rules of basketball are published

Canadian PE instructor Dr James Naismith, working at a YMCA training school, published the 13 rules of basketball on this day in 1892.
15 Jan 2021
15 January 1759: British Museum opens
This day in history

15 January 1759: British Museum opens

On this day in 1759, the British Museum opened in Bloomsbury after Sir Hans Sloane left his of collection of books, manuscripts and specimens to the n…
15 Jan 2021
14 January 2002: Britain’s foot-and-mouth disease epidemic ends
This day in history

14 January 2002: Britain’s foot-and-mouth disease epidemic ends

The government finally declared Britain’s foot-and-mouth disease crisis over on this day in 2002, almost a year after the first case had been identifi…
14 Jan 2021

Most Popular

Bitcoin: fool’s gold or the new gold?
Bitcoin

Bitcoin: fool’s gold or the new gold?

With bitcoin hitting new highs last week, and close to becoming a mainstream investment, is it really gold for the 21st century?
15 Jan 2021
The MoneyWeek Podcast: bitcoin special
Bitcoin

The MoneyWeek Podcast: bitcoin special

Merryn talks to bitcoin experts Dominic Frisby and Charlie Morris to get the lowdown on the cryptocurrency to find out why it's such a huge global phe…
15 Jan 2021
Leasehold reforms promise the end of a nightmare for many homeowners
Property

Leasehold reforms promise the end of a nightmare for many homeowners

Horror stories about unscrupulous landlords profiting from a legal relic of the feudal era are about to get a happy ending, says Simon Wilson.
16 Jan 2021