In two days, Americans will celebrate Independence Day. One of the catalysts that led to the Revolutionary War was unfair taxation. I thought that in light of the recent IRS scandals and that include targeting Tea Party members who, among other things, fights for a fair tax code, I’d treat my readers to a look into the original Tea Party.
When the British ruled America, one of the taxes Parliament imposed on the colonies was a tea tax. Because of this unfair tax, America boycotted British companies and bought their tea from other countries. The British didn’t take that quietly. In May, 1773, Parliament gave a monopoly of the importation of tea to the East India Company deduced the taxes on the East India tea to make it cheaper then any other companies’ tea.
This left the American colonists in a moral dilemma. If they paid the duty tax on the imported tea, they acknowledged Parliament’s right to tax them without their representation. But if they bought tea from East India for the cheaper price, they were giving in to the British controlling their trade.
The British assumed the colonists would pay a cheaper price for tea, a staple of colonial life, rather than stand on principle and refuse to buy tea. They underestimated the colonist’s determination.
East India Company sent shipments to Philadelphia and New York, but the Americans wouldn’t let them land. they were finally permitted to dock in Charleston, but the tea was consigned to a warehouse where it remained until the revolution.
In Boston, three tea ships arrived. 7,000 angry colonists gathered at the wharf where the ships were docked.. One December 16, 1773, a mass meeting at the Old South Meeting House resolved that the tea ships should leave the harbor without payment or duty. A Collector of Customs refused to allow the ships to leave without the duty payment.
A group of around 200 men disguised as Indians assembled on a hill close to the wharf. They let out was cries, marched to the ships, and dumped the cargos of tea into the harbor sending a strong message that the colonists had had enough of the British government lording over them.
London’s response was swift. Instead of backing off, in March, 1774, Parliament passed the Intolerable Acts which closed the Port of Boston, and violated the rights of the colonists.
Most colonists were furious. Coffee became the drink of choice in the colonies. As things progressed, Americans decided that revolution was preferable to having rights violated and freedoms abolished.
So the original Tea Party was instrumental in uniting Americans to fight to become a nation. It also started America’s love affair with coffee.
Happy Independence Day!