This American essay relates to the Boston Tea Party. The year was 1773. The British East India Company was on the verge of bankruptcy. It had a stockpile of tea which it was not able to sell in England. The way out for the East India Company to get rid of the tea was to dump it in the colonies of England. This would serve two purposes: get out of a financial crisis and get rid of its dead stock of tea. The Company went about this in a devious sort of way. It wanted to circumvent the taxes that the traditional colonial tea merchants had to pay. This would have given the Company an edge over its local rivals.
From this advantageous position the Company was able to undersell American merchants and monopolize the tea trade in the colonies. The act proved provocative for several political and social reasons. First, it angered influential colonial merchants, who feared being replaced and bankrupted by a powerful domination. The East India Company’s decision to grant franchises to certain American merchants for the sale of their tea created a rift between a chosen few and the merchants who were excluded from this profitable trade.
In addition to this, the Tea Act revived American passions about the British Governmentâ€™s unilateral decisions relating to the imposition of new taxes. The law provided no new tax on tea. Lord North was under the presumption that most of the colonists would welcome the new law because it would reduce the price of tea to consumers by removing the middlemen. But to his surprise the colonists responded by boycotting tea.
This time the protests were different. This time a large segment of the population was involved and the protests and boycott was on an unprecedented scale. It also helped to bring the colonists together for a common cause. This resulted in a mass popular protest. Significant to the movement was the unity of the colonial women, who were one of the principal consumers of tea but now the leaders of the effort to the boycott it.
Many of the colonies made plans to thwart the East India Company from landing its cargoes in their ports. In ports other than Boston, agents of the company were convinced to resign, and new shipments of tea were either returned to England or warehoused. In Boston, the agents refused to resign and, with the help of the royal governor, arrangements were made to land incoming cargoes regardless of resistance. After failing to turn back the three ships in the harbor, local loyalists led by Samuel Adams staged a stunning drama. On the evening of December 16, 1773, three companies of fifty men each, masquerading as Mohawk Indians went on board the three ships, broke open the tea chests, and threw the chests into the sea. As the thrilling news of the Boston “tea party” spread, other seaports followed the example and staged similar acts of confrontation of their own.
The British Government wanted the Bostonians to pay for the damages and loss of property. When they refused George III and Lord North decided on a policy of coercion. This was to be applied to Massachusetts only. This policy resulted in the so called Coercive Acts. By these acts passed in 1774 Parliament closed the port of Boston. It severely reduced the powers of self government in the colony, allowed royal officers to be tried in other colonies or in England when accused of crimes, and provided for the placing British troops in the colonists’ barns and vacant houses.
These Acts sparked new resistance up and down the coast. This ultimately snowballed into what is now familiar history. This American essay briefly explains the events that eventually led to the War of Independence.