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Boston tea party, sounds fun right? Too bad it wasn’t, and although no one died it was still considered an extremely chaotic time. To this day it is remembered as a turning point of the American Revolution. It is at this point in time that the British finally took notice of how much they were despised by the majority of the American colonies and instead of trying to appeal to them, they decided to make it worst for themselves. The Americans have always been a very independent group of people, so it came as no surprise to learn that almost as soon as the United States was colonised, most people wanted to break off their connection to the British Empire. Through ridiculous taxes and simply the control exercised over the 13 colonies of America, the British made it easy to be hated and with this in mind an act of rebellion was no longer an if but a when.
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It can be said that a relationship is not well started when one party belongs to another. This was the case for the relatively new American colonies and their leaders the British Empire. In fact, Britain regarded their newest addition as more terrain to control and as a pawn to be used for more power and money, whereas the colonies thought of themselves as an independent group having sought refuge in America to distance themselves from their motherland. Independence was hardly found however as the leader of the two parties continually imposed many ridiculous Acts upon the 13 colonies. Most of these Acts touched the subject of taxes and to add further insult, the Quartering Act of 1765 required the colonists to provide for all the British troops residing in America as though they were servants. These Acts were quite enough to spark a hatred in the colonist but what really lit the fire that propelled them to start fighting back in a significant way, was the Tea Act of 1773. This Act stated that another tax had been added to tea, any person wishing to buy tea went from paying “forty shillings for every tub and for every chest of tea to… four pounds of lawfull money of Great Britain for every tub and for every chest of bohea tea”. Twenty shillings being equal to one pound, after the tea act of 1773 the American colonies paid two times the previous tax only for their tea. The arrival of the Eleanor, the Beaver and the Dartmouth showed to be the perfect opportunity to enact their rebellion.
Despite the fact that the opinion concerning the hate against the British was one shared by a great many number of people, there was one person who really dedicated himself to this cause; Samuel Adams. Having his career as a brewer and a newspaper publisher flop, Samuel Adams needed to find something he was good at. It turns out that politics was the perfect match for him and it is what eventually led him to become one of the founding fathers of the United States. His passion for politics all started when the British enacted one of their early controversial decisions, the Stamp act of 1765, where he helped organise the resistance. Realising that he could make a difference in his world, Adams then decided to dedicate his life’s work to freeing his country of the British grasp, that is why it was he, with the help of only a few others, who founded the Sons of Liberty, he, who lead the meetings at the Old South Meeting house and he, who organized the tea party itself. Samuel Adams was, as described by his second cousin the president of the United States, John Adams; “born and tempered a wedge of steel to split the knot of lignum vitae that bound America to Britain.” His devotion to the cause is what helped him gain a reputation in politics and earned him a place to sign the declaration of Independence.
In spite of nearly the totality of the 13 American colonies being in favour of the same ideology as Samuel Adams, not quite all of them were ready to act on it. It is why the Sons of Liberty were formed in 1765. Originally, it’s goal had been to protest the Stamp Act of that same year, an Act that put a tax on any printed document and the group was made up of only 9 people, hence the birth name being The Loyal Nine. A riot fighting the Stamp Act closely followed the formation of the small group inciting more and more people to join. Newspapers were quick to pick up on the actions of the party and the ideology behind it. Unsurprisingly most newspapers started advertising this ideology helping in the addition to many supporters of the cause. Most of the damage done by the group was material, few were injured and even less dead. They started getting the upper hand after the Tea Party and ultimately it was the reason the Revolution started in Massachusetts. Fighting for what they thought was right and paving the way for America to become what it is today, the Sons of Liberty held their own until satisfied with the result of their impact disbanding only after the American Revolution was terminated and the independence of America earned.
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A date seared into the brains of Boston Americans in 1773 and the same one recognized across countries today; December 16th, 1773. The date of the Boston Tea Party, the act of rebellion that pushed Americans to become who they are today. The Tea Party itself did not begin until the late hours of 6 to 9 o’clock that night, but what preceded was of equal importance. The Dartmouth, the Beaver and the Eleanor were the three ships that had arrived in Boston carrying the, soon to be destroyed, tea in the previous months. The Bostonians had decided to follow in the footsteps of the New York, Philadelphia and Charleston citizens and refused the tea, wanting to force it back to England. The British however had become aware of their not too flattering reputation in the American colonies and had prepared themselves by specifically ordering a loyalist named Thomas Hutchinson to refuse this and have the tea remain until it was bought. It was upon hearing this, on the very day of the Party, that Samuel Adams declared at the final meeting at Old South Meeting House, “This meeting can do nothing more to save the country,” a phrase thought by historians to have been the secret signal for the Sons of Liberty to destroy the tea. Samuel Adam’s next move however was a bit hypocritical as he and the other leaders of the Sons of Liberty scattered around Boston so to not be caught in the act of destroying the tea. The patriots themselves played no part in this and dressed as Mohawk Indians to not be recognized, bravely made their way in three groups to the docked ships and their precious cargo. It took nearly three hours for all the tea to be completely destroyed and not a single soul was harmed or killed in this event. Looking back, it is obvious that the tea itself was not the target, but more it’s representation and its symbolic meaning in the eyes of the British people. Tea was not only a source of income being merchandise sold by Britain but also a big part of their culture. Even today regarding the seemingly large importance of tea for the British, people around the world automatically assume every British person likes tea and drinks it every day. This being said the destruction of the tea can only be interpreted as the Americans severing their ties to the British culture.
It goes without saying that the British Empire would simply not tolerate such an act of disrespect towards them. That is why, shortly after the events of December 16th, 1773, the then reigning monarch, King George III, took action to punish Boston. March 30th, 1774, the Parliament brings to life the Boston Port Bill, a document citing that all Boston harbors would be closed until the full price of the tea destroyed was repaid. At the time, in 1773, 46 tons of Tea was worth £9,659 and equivalent of roughly 2 million dollars today. Obviously most people simply refused but like in any decision, there is bound to be a minority that disagree and the presiding president at the time, Benjamin Franklin, was no exception. He was definitely not happy with the events of the Boston Tea Party. He found that it was disrespectful, that it was destruction of private property and was willing to repay the damages brought on by the Sons of Liberty.
Without the Boston Tea Party, it is safe to say that the United States we know today would simply not exist. It was this act of rebellion that inspired many across the country to stand for their beliefs that the USA should be an independent colony. It was this act of rebellion that lit the fire that would turn into the American Revolution and that, in turn, would lead to the Declaration of Independence being signed. Although this was in fact an act of rebellion and rebellion is often associated with violence, this was not the case. The Boston Tea Party was both peaceful and chaotic but never violent. It was peaceful in the sense that no one was killed or seriously injured but also extremely chaotic in the sense of its symbolic meaning and implication. The group of patriots founded for the Tea Party was never dispatched after the event and they continued to fight with passion for their rights and freedoms. Their continued fighting lead to the assembly of the founding fathers, the signing of the Declaration of Independence 3 years following the Tea Party and the legitimate separation of the American colonies and the British Empire. However, it should be acknowledged that the said continued fight was nowhere near as nonviolent as the Tea Party itself and left many deaths in its wake with battles such as Lexington, Concord and Bunker Hill.
Today, the footprint left by the Tea Party is significant in that other than the fact that it knocked down a chain of dominoes that lead to the formation of the USA, it has had many smaller impacts. Multiple museums have been opened in the honor of this event, there is an annual recreation of the Party every 16th of December in Boston, tours of the city of Boston are offered in which the sole subject is the Party and Samuel Adams has even become a brand of Beer.
To this day when we think of a chaotic moment in time we certainly do not think of tea being thrown off a ship, we think of world wars, plagues of sickness or terrorist events. All of which can be summed up by one word; death. Being surrounded by death, it is not surprising to have it come to mind so quickly, but in thinking this, we fail to realize that chaos does not only come in times with great casualty. The Boston Tea Party serves to prove that a goal can be accomplished through peaceful chaos. The destruction of material however bad it may be, is infinitely better than the annihilation of a life. How would the world be different had it not been for the Boston Tea Party? Would the Loyalists or the Patriots have won? Would Canada and the United States be joined as a single country today if the Sons of Liberty had not been formed? All these questions will never be answered because what is done is done and cannot be changed. If I were to rely on what is known of the Boston Tea Party, I would most definitely be under the impression, that it played a crucial part in not only inciting people to fight for their rights but also showing them a passionate but more peaceful way to do it. It is not always fun and games to stand up to bullies like the British were to the American colonies, but then again it does not either need to be gruesome and deadly.
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