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250 years: The Boston Tea Party

Authored by Alice Broome
Published on 16th December, 2023 2 min read

250 years: The Boston Tea Party

Today (16/12/2023) marks 250 years since the Boston Tea Party.

The Boston Tea Party was an influential political protest by American colonists against the British government. Tensions had been rising between colonists and the British following the introduction of the Stamp Act of 1765 and the Townshend Acts of 1767. The Stamp Act taxed printed paper, whilst the Townshend Acts taxed paint, paper, glass, lead, and tea. American colonists resented being taxed without having any political representation in the British parliament. 

Increased colonial taxation led to the Boston Massacre on 5 March 1770. British soldiers opened fire on a mob of Americans colonists, killing five and injuring six. This put further strain on the relationship between the colonists and the British administration.

In response to the American protests, the British repealed all but the tax on tea. A boycott of the British East India Company (EIC) ensued. Colonists began smuggling in Dutch tea. The British government responding with the introduction of the Tea Act of 1773. This ensured that EIC tea could be sold duty-free. Thus, the price of smuggled Dutch tea soon surpassed the price of British tea.

Angered at the tax on tea and the EIC’s monopoly, American colonists organised a protest. On the night of 16 December 1773 a group of men in Boston disguised themselves as Native Americans. They boarded EIC ships and threw 342 chests of tea overboard. This equated to over 41 tonnes of tea. The Boston Tea Party was pivotal with regard to the development of the American Revolution. It remains an iconic event in history.

British Online Archives hosts extensive primary source collections relating to the American Revolution. For example, our collection, The American Revolution from a British Perspective, 1763–1783, includes numerous documents that reference the Boston Massacre and the Tea Act of 1773. 

Authored by Alice Broome

Alice Broome

Alice Broome is an Editorial Assistant at British Online Archives. She is a Philosophy, Politics, and Economics graduate from the University of York.

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The British Online Archives Notable Days diary is a platform intended to mark key dates and events throughout the year. The posts draw attention to historical events and figures, as well as recurring cultural traditions and international awareness days, in both religious and secular contexts.

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