Government and Politics

Boston Tea Party

Who started the Boston Tea Party?

Many believe that on December 13, 1773, it was patriot Samuel Adams (1722–1803) who gave the signal to the men, who may have numbered more than 100 and were dressed as Indians, to board the ships in Boston Harbor and dump the tea overboard. Whether or not it was Adams who started the Tea Party, about this there can be no doubt: He was most certainly a leader in the agitation that led up to the event. The show of resistance was in response to the recent passage by the British parliament of the Tea Act, which allowed the British-owned East India company to “dump” tea on the American colonies at a low price and also required that the colonists pay a duty for said tea. Colonists feared the act would put local merchants out of business and that if they conceded to pay the duty to the British, they would soon be required to pay other taxes as well.

Once the ships carrying the tea had arrived in Boston Harbor, the colonists tried to have them sent back to England. But when Governor Thomas Hutchinson (1711–1780) of Massachusetts refused to order the return of the ships, patriots organized their show of resistance, which came to be known as the Boston Tea Party.


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