Boston Tea Party! Nope, it was not a fun party! It wasn’t a party where there was host offering tea to those two attended the party. So, what was it? We will learn that in details in this article on Boston Tea Party facts.
Boston Tea Party was a historical event – one of the several key events – that eventually led up to the American Revolution.
In this article on Boston Tea Party facts, we are going to take a detailed look into the event and try to understand why it happened. We will also find out about the people who organized the party or the protest (to be more precise) and what really happened in that party.
In case you are a history buff, we are sure you will find this particular facts-sheet an interesting read.
So, what are you waiting for? Dive in!
Boston Tea Party Basic Info at a Glance
Here is a quick list of important information that you need to know about the Boston Tea Party:
(a) When did it happen? The historic event took place on December 16, 1773.
(b) Where did it happen? The event took place at Boston, a province of Massachusetts Bay.
(c) What cause the event? The event was caused by the Tea Act of May 10, 1773.
(d) What was the goal of the event? The goal of the event was to protest against the taxes imposed by the British Parliament. The protesters demanded that “there should not be any taxation with representation.”
(e) What did people do in that event? The protesters threw tea into the Boston Harbor.
(f) What was the direct result of the event? The British government passed the Intolerable Acts (a set of punitive laws) in 1774 for punishing those who were involved in the Boston Tea Party.
(g) Which parties were involved in the conflict? The people of Boston from Thirteen Colonies were against the British Parliament and East India Company.
Okay, now that we have the basic information we need, let us move on to the Boston Tea Party facts.
Boston Tea Party Facts: 1-11 | Who Organized It?
1. A group of patriots known as Sons of Liberty were the people who organized the Boston Tea Party.
2. The entire group was led by a person by the name Samuel Adams.
3. The group – Sons of Liberty – was an all-male group that included males from all spheres of colonial society.
4. These men were common day laborers, apprentices, tradesmen, business owners, craftsmen, artisans etc.
5. Interesting to note is that they were all American colonists. None of them were Native Americans.
6. All these men came together for defending their rights and also for protesting and undermining the British Rule.
7. Sons of Liberty included the Boston Patriots which included people like Josiah Quincy, John Hancock, John Adams, James Otis, Dr. Joseph Warren and Paul Revere.
8. Encouraged and stirred up by the Sons of Liberty, more than 5,000 people came together at the Old South Meeting House.
9. The Old South Meeting House, at that time, was the largest public building in whole of Boston.
10. The gathering of those 5,000+ men took place on December 16, 1773 at 10 AM.
11. The purpose of the gathering was to decide what to do about the Tea and how they should organize the Boston Tea Party.
What Led to Boston Tea Party? | 12-35
Boston Tea Party Facts: Britain Imposes Tax on Tea and Tea Smuggling
12. The simplest reason for the Boston Tea Party to happen was ‘Taxation Without Representation.’ Though it sounds simple, the background was pretty complex.
13. The American colonists held a notion that Britain was levying unfair amounts of taxes on them in order to pay for all the expenses that Britain incurred during the French and Indian War.
14. Apart from that, these colonists also believed that Britain had absolutely no rights of taxing them in the first place because they had no representation in the British Parliament.
15. From the dawn of the 18th century, importing tea into the American colonies had become a norm.
16. Some people estimate that nearly 1.2 million pounds of tea were consumed by the American colonists every year.
17. This did come into notice of Britain and Britain planned to make even more money from the tea trade. So, Britain decided to impose taxes on the American colonies, especially on tea trade. This made British tea very expensive.
18. No one liked it and the American colonists started building a very lucrative industry based on tea smuggling. They started smuggling in tea from various other European markets and even the Dutch.
19. The smuggling activities that the American colonists were engaged in were in direct violation of the Navigation Acts that was active since mid-17th century.
Indemnity Act and Townshend Revenue Act
20. To curb the problem, the British Parliament passed what is known as Indemnity Act in the year 1767. The real reason for this act was to reduce the price of British tea by repealing the tea tax and bring the cost of British tea at par with that of the Dutch tea.
21. This move by the British Parliament did not come out of thin air. The smuggling activities of the American colonists was responsible for undercutting the British tea trade that was very lucrative for Britain.
22. Because of the Indemnity Act, the smuggling activities were significantly reduced as the tea prices came down. This was only temporary.
23. Then followed the Townshend Revenue Act of 1767 which once again imposed new taxes on tea.
24. Tea was not the only target of the Townshend Act. This act also targeted other commodities like paper, paint, oil, lead and glass.
25. As before, the new taxes were not acceptable to the American colonists and they started protests and boycotts.
26. As a result of such widespread protests and boycotts, Britain decided to remove the taxes imposed by Townshend Revenue Act on every commodity barring tea in the year 1770.
Tea Act and the Veil of Human Rights
27. Three years later in 1773, British Parliament passed the Tea Act. This act give complete monopoly to the East India Company. Now, with the Tea Act in place, East India Company was the only company that could sell tea in all American colonies.
28. What followed was the resurgence of tea smuggling. Some American colonists like Samuel Adams and John Hancock made tea smuggling a very lucrative business.
29. The Townshend Revenue Act (that continued to impose tax on tea) and the Tea Act together outraged the colonists. The most impacted were the big smugglers like Samuel Adams and John Hancock as their economic interests were hurt by the Tea Act.
30. They looked upon the Tea Act as a tool or a tactic for garnering support from the colonies for the tax that was already imposed by the Townshend Revenue Act.
31. Though there were talks about repealing the Townshend Revenue Act, it never happened.
32. In the meantime, the Tea Act managed to give sole monopoly to East India Company. Now tea could be sold only by the company and its authorized agents.
33. Because of the Tea Act, the colonial merchants, especially the smugglers were facing serious losses and this was not acceptable to them.
34. No wonder, people like Samuel Adams and John Hancock vehemently opposed the Tea Act. They sold their ‘opposition to Tea Act’ in the veil of abolition of human rights.
35. Samuel Adams started telling people that the British Parliament is hitting the human rights of the colonists by taxing them without giving them any representation in the British Parliament.
Boston Tea Party Facts: 36-37 | When Did It Happen?
36. The Boston Tea Party took place on December 16, 1773. It was a winter night and the day was a Thursday.
37. According to eye witnesses, the event took place between 7:00 PM and 10:00 PM. The event lasted for nearly 3 hours.
Where Did It Happen? | 38-44
38. The exact location was Griffin’s Wharf located in Boston. Three ships namely Beaver, Eleanor and Dartmouth were anchored at the harbor. All these three ships had cargoes of tea.
39. Boston Tea Party, which is basically the destruction of the tea cargo in those three ships, took place on December 16, 1773.
40. As of today, the original location where the Boston Tea Party took place no longer exists. This is because of the landfills that happened during the rapid expansion of Boston city in the 19th century.
41. However, Griffin’s Wharf in the 18th century, was a very bustling center of shipping and commerce.
42. Today, people debate over the exact location of the original Griffin’s Wharf. However, the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum is located on the Congress Street Bridge.
43. Since the exact position is not know, the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum is approximately placed near the place where the event originally took place.
44. There is a historical marker standing on the corner of Congress and Purchase Streets. This marker commemorates the Boston Tea Party.
Boston Tea Party Facts: 45-54 | How Many People Participated?
45. There is no exact number to say. No one know exactly how many people participated in the Boston Tea Party.
46. There are estimates however! It is estimated that hundreds of people participated in the event. However, there were many people who actually remained anonymous for many years after the event. The reason was simple – fear of punishment.
47. Only 116 out of those who participated were actually documented. Many other kept it a secret till they died.
48. All the participants of the Boston Tea Party were males and they were from all spheres of the society. Most of them were from or surrounding areas of Boston.
49. There were several people who actually came from far off areas such as Maine and Worcester in central Massachusetts.
50. Most of the people who participated in the Boston Tea Party were of English descent. There were others who were of African ancestry, Portuguese, French, Scottish and Irish ancestry.
51. People who joined the party were of different age groups. However, document evidence says that most of the people were below the age of 40.
52. There were only 9 men who were above the age of 40. 16 of those participants were teenagers.
53. Most of the people who participated in the party immediately fled the scene after the party was over. They did so to avoid arrest.
54. There were thousands of people who witnessed the Boston Tea Party. The impact of the event was such that it eventually led to the start of the American Revolution.
The Disguise and the Irony | 55-64
55. The members of the Sons of Liberty who were involved in the Boston Tea Party were very well aware of the fact that if they were caught, they would receive severe punishment because of their act.
56. In order to prevent being caught, they disguised themselves as the Mohawk Indians or Narragansett Indians.
57. There are arguments which state that the disguise was only symbolic. The participants were fully aware that despite their disguise, they would clearly identified as non-Mohawks.
58. The whole idea behind such disguise was that the American colonists wanted to identify themselves as ‘Americans’ and that they no longer considered themselves as British subjects.
59. The protesters did not dress up as the natives completely. They did not have fully authentic regalia and headdresses.
60. They wore matchcoat style wool blankets. They had their faces painted with soot.
61. They also wore several other dresses that were commonly referred to as ‘Indian dress.’
62. In short, they basically wore dresses resembling the dresses adopted by the soldiers during the French and Indian War.
63. According to one observer of the Boston Tea Party, John Andrews, the protesters not only dressed up as the Indians but also carried hatchets or axes.
64. Those protesters also carried pair pistols and were talking to each other in a dialect that was pretty much unintelligible to everyone else but themselves.
Where is the irony? Though it is a subject of a separate article, you need to know that the Mohawks sided with the Americans in the American Revolution. After the victory however, the Americans forced the Mohawks to give up their territories. No wonder, in the war of 1812, the Mohawks sided with the British.
Boston Tea Party Facts: 65-78 | The Ships
65. On the night when Boston Tea Party took place, there were three ships that had sailed all the way from England.
66. The ships were carrying the cargo of tea of the British East India Company.
67. All the ships arrived at the Boston Harbor and they were anchored there. The three ships were Beaver, Eleanor and Dartmouth.
68. The three ships however had arrived at Boston at different points in time.
(a) Beaver reached Boston on December 15.
(b) Eleanor reached Boston earlier on December 2.
(c) Dartmouth reach Boston even earlier on November 28.
69. All the three ships were loaded with 100+ chests of tea each.
70. There were supposed to be four ships. The fourth ship named William did not reach Boston.
71. Off the Cape Cod, William ran aground after being caught in a violent storm. The incident with William happened on December 10, 1773.
72. 53 chests of tea were save from William which reached Boston later.
73. The Sons of Liberty unloaded the tea stored in those three ships that reached Boston.
74. Later, a portion of the tea salvaged from William was also destroyed by the Sons of Liberty.
75. The ships were not British. In fact they were actually American. They were built in America and they were owned by Americans.
76. Only the cargo in the ships were British and they belonged to the British East India Company.
77. The Beaver and the Dartmouth were both owned by Rotch’s who were an affluent Nantucket Quaker family.
78. The Eleanor on the other hand was owned by John Rowe – a leading merchant in Boston.
The Tea | 79-87
79. Many people actually held the belief that the tea that was dumped at Boston Tea Party came from India. That’s not true. The tea actually came from China.
80. The British East India company had extensive trade dealing with China because of the very lucrative opium trade.
81. The tea that was dumped at Boston Tea Party was called the Bohea type.
82. What is Bohea? Any tea that was black was referred to as Bohea during the tea trade of the 18th century.
83. Interestingly, Bohea was a specific type or variety of black tea that came specifically from Wuyi Mountains located in Fujian province of China.
84. However, the term Bohea was actually hijacked and tea traders started referring to all black tea varieties as Bohea tea.
85. The tea cargo in the three vessels – Eleanor, Beaver and Dartmouth were carrying different varieties of tea that included the following:
(a) Bohea variety.
(b) Congou variety.
(c) Souchong variety.
(d) Hyson variety.
(e) Singlo variety.
86. The Bohea, Congou and Souchong varieties were all black teas. The Hyson and Singlo varieties were both green tea varieties. The green teas came from Anhui province of China.
87. The three ships collectively carried:
(a) 240 chests of Bohea variety of tea.
(b) 60 chests of Singlo variety of tea.
(c) 15 chests of Hyson variety of tea.
(d) 15 chests of Congou variety of tea.
(e) 10 chests of Souchong variety of tea.
Boston Tea Party Facts: 88-99 | Tories, Loyalists and Royalists
88. The people who were protesting against the British were actually British but they lost their loyalty to Britain. Their loyalty shifted to the American colonies.
89. Those who became loyal to the American colonies called themselves as Patriots.
88. Those who remained loyal to Britain were terms as Tories or Loyalists or Royalists or King’s Men by the Patriots.
89. The term Tory was actually a Middle Irish word which was used for referring to men who were pursued, outlaws and robbers.
90. Before the American Revolution started, the term Tory was used to describe anyone who upheld King’s right over Parliament.
91. However, during the American Revolution, Tory was used to refer to anyone who was loyal to Britain.
92. The two most famous Tories who lived in Boston were Thomas Hutchinson and Andrew Oliver.
93. Thomas Hutchinson was Lieutenant Governor and Chief Justice of Massachusetts. Andrew Oliver on the other hand was public official.
94. Both Thomas Hutchinson and Andrew Oliver were targets of the Sons of Liberty.
95. There is documentation which states that 20,000+ Tories fought alongside the British Army against the Patriots during the American Revolution.
96. Ironically, the Patriots actually branded those 20,000+ Tories as traitors for being loyal to the British and not being loyal to the American colonies.
97. When the American Revolution ended and American independence was achieved, many Tories had to flee. Many were kicked out of the United States that was newly formed.
98. Those who fled or were kicked out ended up relocating in the Britain, the Bahamas, Canada and Africa. The Tories went on to found Sierra Leone (a country in West Africa).
99. Estimates say that during the American Revolution, 1/3rd of the population of the Thirteen Colonies were neutral, 1/3rd were Tories and the remaining 1/3rd were Patriots.
Boston Tea Party Facts: 100-109 | The Extent of Damage
100. During the Boston Tea Party, 340 chests of tea that belonged to the British East India Company were destroyed.
101. The Sons of Liberty and the Patriots used their axes to smash open the chests and then dumped the tea into the Boston Harbor.
102. According to British East India Company, the total losses incurred by the company was 9,659 Sterling Pounds in the currency value of 1773.
103. By today’s estimate, the price of those 340 chests of tea is a whopping 1,700,000 US Dollars.
104. The total weight of the tea dumped that night was 92,000 pounds or nearly 46 tons.
105. Estimates say that the amount of tea that was dumped could have brewed 18,523,000 cups of tea.
106. Nothing else was damaged by the Sons of Liberty. Only one padlock was broken on one of the three ships and the Patriots promptly replaced it the very next day because it was a private property.
107. The Sons of Liberty took extreme care not do damage anything else. Nothing stolen either. Only one person tried to steal some tea but that was not allowed by the fellow protesters.
108. They were even kind enough to sweep the decks of the ships and they even put everything back in place.
109. The only thing that was destroyed was the tea cargo. This very fact was attested by the crews of the ships.
Boston Tea Party Facts: 110-115 | Deaths and Arrests
110. The Boston Tea Party was violent on the tea cargo. The cargo was completely destroyed.
111. No physical harm came to anyone who participated in the party. No one died.
112. There were absolutely no clashes between the Patriots, the British soldiers who were stationed in Boston and the Tories.
113. The crew members of all three ships were also left completely unharmed.
114. The Boston Tea Party was very well-planned and executed with extreme caution. It was the first organized act of rebellion against the British rule.
115. Francis Akeley – a member of the Sons of Liberty – was the only person who was arrested and put in prison. No one else who participated in the event was ever arrested.
Boston Tea Party Facts: 116-123 | Consequences of the Rebellion
116. 92,000 pounds of tea were dumped into the Boston Harbor. As a result of the act, the harbor started smelling.
117. Furious by the act, the British decided to close the Boston Harbor only to be reopened only and only if the British East India Company was paid for all 340 chests.
118. The British implemented the restrictions through Boston Port Act that was one of 5 measures outlined by the Intolerable Acts of 1774. The acts were meant for punishing Boston for the act.
119. The Intolerable Acts was made of 5 components. They were:
(a) Boston Port Act
(b) Massachusetts Government Act
(c) Administration of Justice Act
(d) Quartering Act
(e) Quebec Act
All these acts were implemented by the British.
120. The Intolerable Acts further outraged the American colonies and they responded with various protests. They even came up with First Continental Congress in 1774, September and October.
121. The purpose of convening the Congress was to send a petition to Britain asking for repealing of the Intolerable Acts.
122. The Boston Tea Party had far-reaching consequences. Against the British government, it was the first significant defiance act of the American colonists.
123. The Boston Tea Party paved the path that eventually led to the American Revolution.
Boston Tea Party Facts: 124-143 | Random Tidbits
124. George Washington, who was totally in support of revolution, was the one who condemned the Boston Tea Party.
125. The Boston Tea Party went against Washington’s belief about ownership of property.
126. The name “Boston Tea Party” came into existence in early 1820s. Until then, the event was known by the name “the destruction of the tea.”
127. Not many know but there was a second Boston Tea Party. The second one occurred 3 months after the first event.
128. In this second event, only 60 men were involved. They disguised themselves and boarded the ship named Fortune.
129. Those 60 men dumped 30 tea chests overboard. Because the even was very small, it failed to get enough attention.
130. The only person who was injured during the original Boston Tea Party was a person named John Crane. He became unconscious after getting knocked.
131. John Crane was a Patriot and his fellow Patriots hid him in a nearby shop under a wood shavings pile. Crane regained his consciousness within a few hours.
132. A rich and generous man named Benjamin Franklin offered the British government a complete repayment for the lost tea in exchange of opening the Boston Harbor.
133. The British government however never accepted the condition and in turn, they were never compensated for the lost tea.
135. The Boston Tea Party took place under strict secrecy codes. The result was that no one was ever captured and punished except one.
136. An anonymous tip naming the person allowed the British government to capture him. As a punishment, the person was stripped and then covered with tar and then feathered.
137. That was the only tip that the British received. No one else ever, after that first tip, gave any information to the British.
138. Each of the three ships involved in the Boston Tea Party were 80 feet in length.
139. The moniker “Boston Tea Party” was popularized by two books named Traits of the Tea Party and A Retrospect of the Tea-Party.
140. Throughout 1774, protests against Tea Act spread through other colonies and in various cities like South Carolina, Annapolis and New York, the Patriots dumped tea of the ships or burned the tea.
141. The Patriots posted an armed guard at Griffin’s Wharf to prevent the tea cargoes from coming ashore.
142. The import tax that was levied on the tea by the Tea Act was actually much lower than what the American colonists were already paying.
143. The Boston Tea Party took place a few year after the Boston Massacre.