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?Fellow countrymen, we cannot afford to give a single inch! If we retreat now, everything we have done becomes useless! If Hutchinson will not send tea back to England, perhaps we can brew a pot especially for him!? ? Samuel Adams December 16, 1773
In an attempt to transfer part of the cost of colonial administration to the American colonies, the British Parliament had enacted the Stamp Act in 1765 and the Townshend Acts in 1767. Eventually, opposition rose and forced withdrawal of these acts through boycotts and petitions, but Parliament left the import duty on tea to represent its authority.
It was not until May 1773 that the situation became a big problem. In this paper, I will discuss why the circumstances were re-opened, and how the events that followed turned the tables on the mind-set plan of the East India Company and British Parliament. The dumping of 342 tea chests would not only be one cause to the start of a revolution.
In May 1773, the faltering East India Company persuaded Parliament that the company?s future and Britain?s prosperity depended on the transfer of its tea
surplus. The company was able to undersell the smugglers from Holland because Parliament gave them a disadvantage of the entire shilling-per-pound duty. They expected that the Americans, faced with a choice between the cheaper company tea and the more expensive smuggler?s tea, would most definitely buy the cheaper tea, despite the tax. Then, the company would be saved from bankruptcy, the smugglers would be ruined, and the principle of parliamentary taxation would be confirmed.
In September 1773, the company intended to ship 500,000 pounds of tea to groups of merchants in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Charleston. This arrangement might have worked had not the company been given what amounted to a monopoly over tea distribution in the colonies. Merchants agreed not to sell the tea and all orders were canceled.
The Dartmouth, the first of three ships, arrived in Boston Harbor on November 27. Two meetings resolved that the tea must be sent back to Britain without any payment of duty. This, the royal governor of Massachusetts, Thomas Hutchinson, refused to permit. He gave orders to the harbor authorities to allow the tea ships to pass outward only upon presentation of a permit certifying that the tea duties had been paid, the latest being December 16. On the next day, in keeping with a 20-day waiting period, the tea became liable to seizure for nonpayment of customs duties.
On the evening of the 16th, approximately 8,000 people came together in and near Boston?s Old South Church heard Francis Rotch, the Dartmouth?s owner?s son, inform Samuel Adams of the governor?s final refusal.
Then, Adams signaled for a disciplined group of men disguised as Mohawk Indians rushed to Griffin?s Wharf, boarded the tea ships, and proceeded to dump all 342 tea chests into the Boston Harbor.
One theory of today about the Boston Tea Party is that the group of rioters made a huge mistake. Not realizing that the tide was changing when they dumped the tea chests, they advanced to unload the tea into low tide. Because of this low tide, the chests eventually ended up sitting on mud until either high tide came or some members of the riot took hatchets and hit open the cartons to let out the tea. A different story that an eyewitness account states is that: ? The next morning, after we had cleared the ships of tea, it was discovered that very considerable quantities of it were floating upon the surface of the water; and to prevent the possibility of any of it being saved for use, a number of small boats were manned by sailors and citizens, who rowed into those parts of the harbor wherever the tea was visible, and by beating it with oars and paddles so thoroughly drenched it as its entire destruction inevitable?.
The furious royal government responded to this ?Boston Tea Party? by the Intolerable Acts of 1774, which practically eliminated self-government in Massachusetts and closing Boston?s port. The acts by the British with the tea angered the Bostonians. Because of this they were pushed too far. After what happened with the Boston Massacre, the Patriots wanted something that could push them over the edge to start the Revolution and with the taxes this moved them a few steps closer. This definitely should have taught the British a lesson, but obviously it didn?t.
In conclusion, the Boston Tea Party turned around the tables on the East India Company and the British Parliament. Through the riots, boycotts, meetings, and ?parties? the Americans showed many people that they were not to be tampered with. Not only did they never get paid for the tea (worth 9659 Darjeeling), but they also pushed them over their limit towards the start of a revolution.
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