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Tea Act of 1773 and the Boston Tea Party


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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For thousands of years, indigenous peoples lived in the vast expanse of land that is now known as the United States of America. They developed their own complex cultures before the arrival of the European colonists. The Spanish had early settlements in Florida and the Southwest. The French settled along the Mississippi River and Gulf Coast.

After 1600, most of the colonists in these new-found lands were from England. By the 1770s, there were 13 British colonies along the Atlantic coast east of the Appalachian Mountains. About two and a half million people populated these colonies.

In early 1770s, the British East India Company was in financial difficulties. It held a massive surplus of tea in its London warehouses. The English Parliament presented the Tea Act of 1773 to help the struggling company survive. This Act was also promulgated to undercut the price of tea smuggled into Britain’s North American colonies.

The Tea Act of 1773 granted the British East India Company the right to ship its tea directly to North America. The Company also received the right to duty-free export of tea from Britain. Yet, the tax imposed by the Townshend Acts and collected in the colonies remained in force. The Tea Act received the royal assent on May 10, 1773. (See my article: The Boston Tea Party of December 16, 1773).

The colonies did not send representatives to the British Parliament. Hence, they had no influence over the taxes raised, levied, or how they were spent. So, they objected to the Tea Act. They believed the Act violated their rights as Englishmen in America to be taxed without their consent. They raised the slogan: “NO TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION.”

In September and October 1773, seven ships carrying East India Company’s tea set sail to the American colonies. The ships carried more than 2,000 chests containing about 600,000 pounds of tea. Four ships were bound for Boston and one each for New York, Philadelphia, and Charleston.

The Americans learned the details of the Tea Act only after the ships were en route. Whigs was a nickname for the Patriots, who sometimes called themselves the “Sons of Liberty”. They mobilized a coalition of merchants and artisans to oppose the delivery and distribution of the inbound tea.

The Whigs began a campaign to raise awareness about the implications of the provisions in the Tea Acts. They opposed the Acts which implicitly agreed to accept the right of taxation by the English Parliament.

Benjamin Franklin - one of the Founding Fathers of the United States.
Benjamin Franklin – one of the Founding Fathers of the United States.

Benjamin Franklin said the British were trying to use cheap tea to “overcome all the patriotism of an American”.

Benjamin Rush, a Founding Father of the United States from the state of Pennsylvania, urged his fellow Americans to oppose the landing of the tea. He said the cargo contained “the seeds of slavery”.

On October 16, 1773, Dr. Benjamin Rush, Colonel William Bradford, Thomas Mifflin, Dr. Thomas Cadwalader, and other local leaders and members of the Philadelphia Sons of Liberty organized a meeting at the Pennsylvania State House. They adopted eight resolutions. One resolution stated:

That the duty imposed by Parliament upon tea landed in America is a tax on the Americans, or levying contributions on them without their consent.

The most important one read:

That the resolution lately entered into by the East India Company, to send out their tea to America subject to the payment of duties on its being landed here, is an open attempt to enforce the ministerial plan, and a violent attack upon the liberties of America.

These declarations, printed in the Pennsylvania Gazette,  comprised the first public protest against the importation of taxed tea from England.

Samuel Adams -  one of the Founding Fathers of the United States.
Samuel Adams – one of the Founding Fathers of the United States.

In Boston, Whig leader Samuel Adams called for a mass meeting at Faneuil Hall. Three weeks later, on November 5, 1773, at a town meeting at Faneuil Hall the Bostonians adopted the same resolutions that Philadelphians had promulgated earlier. In their resolution the Bostonians declared:

That the Sense of the Town cannot be better expressed on this Occasion, than in the words of certain Judicious Resolves lately entered into by our worthy Brethren the Citizens of Philadelphia.

Colonial merchants, some of them smugglers of Dutch tea, joined the Whigs. They played a significant role in the protests because the Tea Act made legally imported tea cheaper. Also, the Tea Act was a threat to put an end to their smuggling business. Other legitimate importers of tea, not chosen as consignees by the British East India Company, also faced financial ruin because of the Tea Act. Most American merchants feared that this type of government-created monopoly might extend to include other goods in the future.

The Whigs convinced, and sometimes harassed the Company’s authorized consignees to resign. They successfully prevented the unloading of taxed tea in three colonies and forced the ships to turn back to England. They could not do so in Massachusetts.

The tea ship Dartmouth arrived in the Boston Harbor in late November, 1773. On November 29, a handbill posted all over Boston, contained the following words:

Friends! Brethren! Countrymen! – That worst of plagues, the detested tea, shipped for this port by the East India Company, is now arrived in the harbor.

That day Whig leader, Samuel Adams called for a mass meeting, at Faneuil Hall. As thousands of people arrived, the meeting shifted to a larger venue – the Old South Meeting House. The assembled passed a resolution, introduced by Adams, urging the captain of the Dartmouth to turn back to England without paying the import duty. Meanwhile, the meeting assigned twenty-five men to watch the ship and prevent unloading of the tea from the ship.

British law required the Dartmouth to unload its cargo of tea and pay the customs duties within twenty days . If the customs duties were not paid within that time, the customs officials could confiscate the cargo.

Thomas Hutchinson, the last civilian Royal Governor of the Massachusetts Colony..
Thomas Hutchinson, the last civilian Royal Governor of the Massachusetts Colony..

Royal Governor Thomas Hutchinson refused to grant permission for the Dartmouth to leave Boston without paying the duty. He convinced the tea consignees, two of whom were his sons, not to back down.

Two more tea ships, the Eleanor and the Beaver, arrived in Boston Harbor. Another ship, the William headed for Boston encountered a storm and sank before it could reach Boston.

On December 16th, the last day of the Dartmouth’s deadline to pay the customs duties, about 7,000 people gathered around the Old South Meeting House.

After receiving the report that Governor Hutchinson had refused to let the ships leave, Samuel Adams announced: “This meeting can do nothing further to save the country”.

Immediately, people poured out of the Old South Meeting House. Samuel Adams tried to reassert control of the meeting, but the throng headed out to prepare to take action.

Some donned elaborately prepared Mohawk costumes, disguising their faces, because of the illegality of their protest. Dressing as a Mohawk warrior was a specific and symbolic choice. In the evening of December 16, 1773, they boarded the three vessels – Dartmouth, Eleanor and the Beaver. Over the course of three hours, they dumped 342 chests of tea into the water.

Eventually, the Boston Tea Party proved to be one of the many courses that culminated in the American Revolutionary War.

 

Click on the image below to see video

Boston Tea Party - 02.
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Is the Archaeological Survey of India Digging for Real or Fool’s Gold?


Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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Every day, Indians buy almost 2.3 tonnes of gold to hoard. However, none of them is keen to deposit their gold, for safe keeping, into the vaults of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). Even the Hindu temples sitting on about half as much gold as in Fort Knox are not volunteering to have their holdings audited by the RBI.

The BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi while addressing a crowd in Chennai on Friday, October 18, 2013, ridiculed the Centre for deciding to hunt for 1,000 tonnes gold in Unnao, and said India could stand to gain several thousand crores of rupees if it got back the black money stashed in the Swiss banks. Modi said:

The whole world is mocking at us (over the hunt). Somebody had dreamt and the government has started an excavation…the money hidden by thieves and looters of India in foreign banks in Switzerland is much more than 1,000 tonnes of gold.

Where is this place called Unnao?

Connected by roadway as well as by railway to Kanpur 18 km away, and 60 km away from Lucknow, is the town of Unnao, the headquarters of Unnao district, a part of Central Ganges Plain in Uttar Pradesh, India. The town is listed as a municipality of Kanpur Metropolitan Area.

But the real action is taking place in the nondescript hamlet of Daundia Khera in Unnao district.

On Friday, a team of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) began excavations at Unnao Fort searching for a hypothetical treasure of gold that could have been hidden by Raja Rao Ram Baksh, a rich landlord and gold trader who owned a jewellery shop in Kanpur in the early 19th Century.

The Indian Rebellion of 1857 began as a mutiny of Sepoys of the East India Company’s army on May 10, 1857, in the town of Meerut. The rebellion soon escalated into other mutinies, civil disobedience and rebellions largely in the upper Gangetic plain and central India. Major hostilities were confined to present-day Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, northern Madhya Pradesh, and the Delhi region. The rebellion is also known as India’s First War of Independence, the Great Rebellion, the Indian Mutiny, the Revolt of 1857, the Uprising of 1857, the Sepoy Rebellion and the Sepoy Mutiny.

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Raja Rao Ram Baksh Singh
Raja Rao Ram Baksh Singh

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British historians describe Raja Rao Ram Baksh Singh as a perdurable marauder and outlaw from the Gangetic Plain who joined the rebels only to loot their camps.

On June 4, 1857, a Maratha aristocrat, Nana Sahib’s troops crushed the British army in Kanpur, and the British contingent fled to Unnao, where Raja Rao Ram Singh challenged them. The British hid in a temple of Buxar. When they refused to come out, they were burned alive on the Raja’s command.

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General Sir James Hope Grant GCB, painted in 1853 by his brother Francis Grant.
General Sir James Hope Grant GCB, painted in 1853 by his brother Francis Grant.

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Enraged over the incident, General Sir James Hope Grant GCB, lured Chandi, one of Raja’s followers to his side and arrested Raja Rao Ram Baksh Singh.

On December 28, 1857, Raja Rao Ram Baksh Singh was hanged to death near the banyan tree at the Shiva temple. His palace, situated near the temple, was destroyed.

Earlier this month, a local seer, Sant Shobhan Sarkar, claimed that the 19th-century king Rao Ram Baksh Singh had appeared in his dream and pointed to a treasure of 1,000 tonnes of gold buried near the Shiva temple where the king worshipped the deity.

A sewak of the seer said that his 55-years-old guru hailed from a Tewari Brahmin family and that he is class 12 pass. For his followers, Sant Shobhan Sarkar is a living god. Asked about the deity he worships, another sewak retorted: “He’s a living god. Why would he worship others?”

The seer hates to be photographed and his followers would simply take way the camera or the cellphone and rough up the person who attempts to photograph him.

The sadhu wrote to the President, the prime-minister, the chief of the ASI, and local politicians about his dream.

The political pressure finally compelled the ASI to survey the area. The Geological Survey of India (GSI) confirmed that there were strong indications of metal at the site. The dig is to begin with 10 to 12 labourers using simple tools.

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Priests perform puja at Raja Rao Ram Bux fort before the excavation starts. - PTI
Priests perform puja at Raja Rao Ram Bux fort before the excavation starts. – PTI

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The ASI began the excavation work on Friday. The Swami Shobhan Sarkar reached the site around 4 am. After performing a short puja, he immediately left for his ashram in Buxar. His disciples continued to chant hymns till 8 am to generate positive vibes.

When asked about the possibility of striking gold, an ASI official said, “I cannot say anything about any metal. For us even a broken earthen pot of that time holds equal importance.

When asked about Shobhan Sarkar’s dream, the ASI official said, “We have not come here for gold. We are archaeologists who have a scientific way of working.”

Another ASI official said that it is not the sadhu’s dream alone that brought them to the site. “We’ve responded to a report by the ministry of culture. It has observations by the Geological Survey of India that there could be some metal bounty under the earth. So the team is in the field,

No one knows how rich Raja Rao Ram Baksh Singh was, nor are they sure if he buried his gold in his village.

We will have to wait and see if the ASI would dig out real gold or Fool’s Gold.

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No More Telegrams Stop


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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A Telegraph Office

On 14th of July, the era of electric telegraphy will come to an end in India.

Before the advent of electric telegraphy, the word “telegraph” had been used for semaphore signaling. People used smoke, beacons, reflected light, and flag semaphore signals for transmitting line-of-sight signal messages.

Semaphore telegraph Bihar1823
A semaphore “telegraph” signalling tower in Silwar (Bihar), 13 February 1823, thirty years before electric telegraphy was rapidly introduced into India by the East India Company.

During the period 1820–30, the East India Company’s Government in India seriously considered constructing a semaphore network – a series of hundred feet high signaling towers (“telegraph” towers), along the entire distance from Calcutta to Bombay, each tower separated from the next by eight miles. Although such towers were built in Bengal and Bihar, the India-wide semaphore network never took off. By mid-19th century, electric telegraphy had become viable making manual signaling obsolete.

Dr. W. B. O'Shaughnessy
Dr. W. B. O’Shaughnessy

In 1851, Dr. W. B. O’Shaughnessy, an Irish Professor of Chemistry in the Calcutta Medical College, famous for his work in pharmacology and inventions related to telegraphy, conducted a trial run for a telegraph service from Calcutta to Diamond Harbour along the river Hooghly. He used a galvanoscope of his own design manufactured in India as the telegraph receiver. Signals were transmitted using electrical telegraph which unlike pigeon post did not carry a physical object bearing the message. The pre-requisite to use of telegraphy required that both the sender and the receiver should be aware of the method of encoding the message.

 Lord Dalhousie
Lord Dalhousie

A year later, after the experimental telegraph service was deemed to be a success, Lord Dalhousie, the Governor-General of India, sought and obtained permission from the Court of Directors of the Company for the construction of telegraph lines from “Calcutta to Agra, Agra to Bombay, Agra to Peshawar, and Bombay to Madras, extending in all over 3,050 miles and including forty-one offices.”

By February 1855 after all the proposed telegraph lines had been constructed paid messages were sent using these lines.

By 1857, the telegraph network had expanded to 4,555 miles of lines and sixty two offices, and had reached as far as the hill station of Ootacamund in the Nilgiri Hills and the port of Calicut on the southwest coast of India.

Replica of Morse's first telegraph instrument.
Replica of Morse’s first telegraph instrument.

In early 1857, the Morse instrument supplanted Dr. O’Shaughnessy’s instrument.

During the Indian rebellion of 1857, more than seven hundred miles of telegraph lines were destroyed mainly in the North-Western Provinces by the rebel forces. Nevertheless, The East India Company used the remaining intact telegraph lines that to warn many outposts of impending civil disturbances. The political value of the new technology was, thus, driven home to the Company. In the following year, the Company not only relaid the destroyed lines, but also expanded the network further by 2,000 miles.

The first Telegraph Act for India was the British Parliament’s Act XXXIV of 1854. When the public telegram service started operating in 1855, the telegraphic charges was fixed at one rupee for every sixteen words (including the address) for every 400 miles of transmission. The charges were doubled for telegrams sent between 6 PM and 6 AM. These rates remained fixed until 1882.

In the year 1860–61, two years after the end of Company rule, India had 11,093 miles of telegraph lines and 145 telegraph offices. That year telegrams totaling Rs. 5 lakhs in value were sent by the public, the working expense of the Indian Telegraph Department was Rs. 14 lakhs, and the capital expenditure until the end of the year totaled Rs. 65 lakhs.

The advent of radio in the early 1900s brought about radiotelegraphy and other forms of wireless telegraphy.

SMS

Since telegrams can no longer compete with internet and mobile SMS and smartphones, it is not surprising to learn that India going to shut down its 163 year old ‘Telegram’ service and the last telegram will be sent on July 14, 2013. The reasons cited: It is not commercially viable, there are huge losses, and in the current scenario it is outdated.

Shamim Akhtar, general manager of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), India’s state-owned telecom company said: “We were incurring losses of over $23 million a year because SMS and smartphones have rendered this service redundant.”

In 1985, at its peak, 60 million telegrams were exchanged across 45,000 offices. Today, only 5,000 telegrams are sent every day in India by 75 telegram offices that exist, employing 998 people, down from 12,500 telegram employees in better years.

Telegraph services ended in the United States seven years ago. On July 14, 2013, 158 years after the public telegram service was first set up in 1855, the world’s final telegram will be sent in India.

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The Boston Tea Party of December 16, 1773


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj
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Without the Boston Tea Party of December 16, 1773, the American revolutionary war would not have taken place at all; or would have been delayed for many decades more.

Boston Tea Party - 01

Canada, France, and the United Kingdom use the name Seven Years’ War to describe the European and Asian conflicts, as well as the North American conflict.

The “French and Indian War” (1754–1763) is the American nomenclature for the North American theater of the Seven Years’ War fought primarily between the colonies of British America and New France, with both sides supported by military units from their parent countries, namely Great Britain and France. However, many historians and scholars in America, such as Fred Anderson like their colleagues in other countries refer to the conflict as the “Seven Years’ War”, regardless of the theatre.

The British distracted by the French and Indian war were losing control over their colonial governments that were increasingly vying for independence. The wars proved costly for the British. The Imperial Crown wanted to reestablish sovereign control over their colonies. At the end of the war in 1763, as a means of recouping the war expenses, King George III and his government contemplated on taxing the American colonies.

The Stamp Act (1765), the Townshend Acts (1767) and the Boston Massacre (1770) infuriated the colonists in America, straining relations with the mother country.

In the 17th century, Europeans developed a taste for tea and many companies in Europe imported tea from China. In 1698, the English Parliament gave the monopoly to the East India Company to import tea. Until 1767, the East India Company paid an ad valorem tax of about 25% on tea that it imported into Great Britain.

Soon tea became popular in the British colonies. The East India Company did not export tea to the colonies; the law required the company to sell the tea it imported to wholesalers at auctions in England. British firms bought this tea and exported it to the colonies, where they resold it to merchants in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Charleston.

The Dutch government did not tax tea imported into Holland. However, the English Parliament imposed additional taxes on tea sold for consumption in Britain. These high taxes impelled the Britons and the British Americans to buy smuggled Dutch tea at much cheaper prices. Soon England became the biggest market for smuggled tea. In 1760s, the East India Company was losing £400,000 per year to smugglers in Great Britain. At the same time, British America smuggled Dutch tea in significant quantities because they did not have to bear the 25% tax on tea which the East India Company paid to the British government.

In 1767, to help the East India Company compete with smuggled Dutch tea, the English Parliament passed the Indemnity Act which lowered the tax on tea consumed in Great Britain. It also gave the East India Company a refund of the 25% duty on tea re-exported to the colonies. This move reduced the price of legally imported tea. Even so, the colonists concerned with a variety of other issues protested.

To offset the loss of government revenue, the English Parliament passed the Townshend Revenue Act of 1767, which levied new taxes in the colonies. Townshend’s taxes rekindled the controversy about the right of the English Parliament to tax the colonies. This laid the groundwork for the American Revolution.

In early 1770s, the British East India Company was in financial difficulties. It held a massive surplus of tea in its London warehouses. To help the struggling company survive, and also to undercut the price of tea smuggled into Britain’s North American colonies, the English Parliament presented the Tea Act of 1773. This Act granted the British East India Company the right to ship its tea directly to North America and the right to the duty-free export of tea from Britain. However, the tax imposed by the Townshend Acts and collected in the colonies remained in force. The Tea Act received the royal assent on May 10, 1773.

To offset the loss of government revenue, the English Parliament passed the Townshend Revenue Act of 1767, which levied new taxes in the colonies. Townshend’s taxes rekindled the controversy about the right of the English Parliament to tax the colonies. This laid the groundwork for the American Revolution.

The Indemnity Act of 1767, which gave the British East India Company a refund of duty on re-exported tea to the colonies, expired in 1772. This left the Company in serious financial crisis. It held a massive surplus of tea in its London warehouses.

To help the struggling company survive, and also to undercut the price of tea smuggled into Britain’s North American colonies, the English Parliament presented the Tea Act of 1773.

The Tea Act forced the colonies to import tea only from Great Britain. This Act granted the British East India Company the right to ship its tea directly to North America and the right to the duty-free export of tea from Britain. However, the tax imposed by the Townshend Acts and collected in the colonies remained in force. The Tea Act received the royal assent on May 10, 1773.

The Tea Act allowed the British East India Company to reduce costs of the tea by eliminating the middlemen who bought the tea at wholesale auctions in London. In July 1773, the Company selected colonial merchants in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, and Charleston to receive the tea on consignment. The consignees would in turn sell the tea for a commission.

Nathaniel Dance Lord North
Prime Minister Frederick North

However, the Tea Act retained the three pence Townshend duty on tea imported to the colonies. Some members of the English Parliament argued that there was no reason to provoke another controversy since the Americans would not accept the tea if the Townshend duty remained; even so, Prime Minister Fredriclk North did not want to give up the revenue from the Townshend tax that primarily served to pay the salaries of colonial officials. He maintained the right of taxing the Americans was a secondary concern. According to historian Benjamin Labaree, “A stubborn Lord North had unwittingly hammered a nail in the coffin of the old British Empire.”

In September and October 1773, seven ships carrying more than 2,000 chests containing nearly 600,000 pounds of East India Company tea set sail to the American colonies – four bound for Boston and one each for New York, Philadelphia, and Charleston.

While the ships were en route, Americans learned the details of the Tea Act. Whigs (a nickname for Patriots), sometimes calling themselves Sons of Liberty mobilized a coalition of merchants and artisans to oppose the delivery and distribution of the inbound tea. They began a campaign to raise awareness about the implications of the provisions in the Tea Acts, namely, implicitly agreeing to accept English Parliament’s right of taxation.

The colonies sent no representatives to the British Parliament, and so they had no influence over the taxes raised, levied, or how they would be spent. Therefore, they objected to the Tea Act because they believed it violated their rights as Englishmen to be taxed without their consent. They raised the slogan:

“No Taxation Without Representation”

Colonial merchants, some of them smugglers, played a significant role in the protests. Because the Tea Act made legally imported tea cheaper, it threatened to put the smugglers of Dutch tea out of business. Other legitimate importers of tea, not chosen as consignees by the British East India Company, also faced financial ruin because of the Tea Act. Most American merchants feared that this type of government-created monopoly might be extended to include other goods in the future.

Governor Thomas Hutchinson
Thomas Hutchinson, the last civilian Royal Governor of the Massachusetts Colony.

The Whigs convinced, and in some instances harassed the Company’s authorized consignees to resign, in the same way the stamp distributors were forced to resign during the 1765 Stamp Act crisis. They successfully prevented the unloading of taxed tea in three colonies and forced the ships to turn back to England. They could not do so in Massachusetts. In Boston, Royal Governor Thomas Hutchinson refused to allow the tea to be returned to England. He convinced the tea consignees, two of whom were his sons, not to back down.

Dr. Benjamin Rush, painted by Charles Willson
Dr. Benjamin Rush, painted by Charles Willson

Benjamin Franklin said the British were trying to use cheap tea to “overcome all the patriotism of an American”. Benjamin Rush, a Founding Father of the United States who lived in the state of Pennsylvania urged his fellow Americans to oppose the landing of the tea, because the cargo contained “the seeds of slavery”.

When the Philadelphians received word that the East India Company’s tea shipments were on their way, on October 16th, Dr. Benjamin Rush, Colonel William Bradford, Thomas Mifflin, Dr. Thomas Cadwalader, and other local leaders and members of the Philadelphia Sons of Liberty organized a meeting at the Pennsylvania State House. They adopted eight resolutions, one of which stated: “That the duty imposed by Parliament upon tea landed in America is a tax on the Americans, or levying contributions on them without their consent.” The most important one read:

“That the resolution lately entered into by the East India Company, to send out their tea to America subject to the payment of duties on its being landed here, is an open attempt to enforce the ministerial plan, and a violent attack upon the liberties of America.”

Printed in the Pennsylvania Gazette, these declarations comprised the first public protest against the importation of taxed tea from England.

Samuel Adams -  one of the Founding Fathers of the United States.
Samuel Adams – one of the Founding Fathers of the United States.

In Boston, Whig leader Samuel Adams called for a mass meeting to be held at Faneuil Hall. Three weeks later, on November 5, 1773, at a town meeting at Faneuil Hall the Bostonians adopted the same resolutions that Philadelphians had promulgated earlier. In their resolution the Bostonians declared:

“That the Sense of the Town cannot be better expressed on this Occasion, than in the words of certain Judicious Resolves lately entered into by our worthy Brethren the Citizens of Philadelphia”

(fromResolutions Of The Town Of Boston, November 5, 1773“, Boston Record Commissioner’s Report, vol. xviii., pp. 142, 143; a draft of the preamble, in the handwriting of Adams, is in the Mellen Chamberlain collection, Boston Public Library.)

The tea ship Dartmouth arrived in the Boston Harbor in late November, 1773. On Monday morning, November 29th, a handbill posted all over Boston, contained the following words:

“Friends! Brethren! Countrymen! – That worst of plagues, the detested tea, shipped for this port by the East India Company, is now arrived in the harbor.”

That day Whig leader, Samuel Adams called for a mass meeting, to be held at Faneuil Hall. As thousands of people arrived, the meeting shifted to a larger venue – the Old South Meeting House. The assembled passed a resolution, introduced by Adams urging the captain of the Dartmouth to turn back to England without paying the import duty. Meanwhile, the meeting assigned twenty-five men to watch the ship and prevent unloading of the tea from the ship.

British law required the Dartmouth to unload its cargo of tea and pay the customs duties within twenty days; if not the customs officials could confiscate the cargo. Governor Hutchinson refused to grant permission for the Dartmouth to leave without paying the duty.

Two more tea ships, the Eleanor and the Beaver, arrived in Boston Harbor. Another ship, the William headed for Boston encountered a storm and sank before it could reach Boston.

On December 16th, the last day of the Dartmouth’s deadline to pay the customs duties, about 7,000 people gathered around the Old South Meeting House. After receiving a report that Governor Hutchinson had again refused to let the ships leave, Samuel Adams announced: “This meeting can do nothing further to save the country”.

Immediately, people poured out of the Old South Meeting House. Samuel Adams tried to reassert control of the meeting, but the throng headed out to prepare to take action.

Gadsden flag
Gadsden flag

mohawkSome donned elaborately prepared Mohawk costumes, disguising their faces, because of the illegality of their protest. Dressing as a Mohawk warrior was a specific and symbolic choice. As with the rattlesnake on the Gadsden Flag, the historical American flag with a yellow field depicting a rattlesnake coiled and ready to strike, and the use of the Bald Eagle as the national symbol, this displayed something specifically American overriding any traditional European symbolism. This gesture showed the British that the Sons of Liberty identified themselves with America and derided their official status as subjects of Great Britain.

In the evening, a group of 30 to 130 men some disguised as Mohawk warriors, boarded the three vessels – Dartmouth, Eleanor and the Beaver. Over the course of three hours, they dumped 342 chests of tea into the water.

Eventually, the Boston Tea Party proved to be one of the many courses that culminated in the American Revolutionary War.

Click on the image below to see video

Boston Tea Party - 02
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