Tea and Taxes – An American History

Tax day approaches in the United States, and with it I hear the discussions and rumblings of pros and cons on the subject amongst Kat and her friends. It can’t be denied that the American people have always had a lot to say about taxes.

Boston Harbor

One of the most blatant showings of emotion occurred during what we now call The Boston Tea Party. During this act of rebellion in December of 1773, nearly 200 men, all disguised as native Americans, boarded 3 ships owned by the East India Company. These ships had just arrived in the harbor and were waiting to have their cargo of tea unloaded. Over the course of 3 hours, more than 45 tons of tea were dumped into the Boston Harbor! By today’s standards, that’s more than $1 million! Good heavens!

What you might not know about the Boston Tea Party is:

  • The colonists were not protesting the tax on tea. In fact, the Tea Act reduced the taxes on tea significantly,  meaning that Americans would be paying less for tea than the British!
  • What pushed them past the boiling point was that not only did this legislation pass through Parliament without any input or consent of the colonists themselves, it was essentially a bail out for the East India Company that allowed them to essentially control all tea imports.
    • Problem: With tea imports being controlled by a British tea importer, colonist merchants (such as the famous John Hancock) would lose business.
  • The destruction of tea was widely criticized by the colonists, including George Washington himself, who held a deep respect for personal property. This was seen as a senseless act of vandalism.
    • Only one person was injured during the dumping of the tea into the harbor. John Crane was knocked unconscious, poor chap, by a falling tea chest, but awoke hours later. (Thank goodness!) The ship crews confirmed that no other injuries or damage occurred on board. Tea was the sole target.
  • While the colonists were not of one mind regarding this rebellious act, it was Britain’s response to the vandalism that united the colonists. Britain closed the Boston Harbor to all commerce until the damages were paid and took away self rule in Massachusetts, among other sanctions. These were collectively named the “Intolerable Acts” and ultimately led to the First Continental Congress and the Declaration of Independence.

Americans want their voices to be heard. They have opinions. Strong ones, at that! And I have my opinions, as well, dearies. I feel adamantly that it’s time for a friendly cup of tea!

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