In this week’s blog post I thought that I would go into a period that I myself have yet to explore; the eighteenth century. A century filled with events such as the American War of Independence and the beginning of the French Revolution and key figures such as Jane Austin, Benjamin Franklin and Edward Teach aka the pirate Blackbeard. Whilst my first thoughts were to look at Blackbeard the pirate, I have chosen to write on the topic of the Boston Tea Party in 1773 because of its historical importance in both American and British history.
The Boston Tea Party took place on the 16th December 1773 when 200 men, some dressed as native Indians, boarded three ships owned by the East India Company in Boston port and dumped the cargos of tea into the harbour. The cause of this unrest can be traced back earlier to the 1760s and 1770s with various laws coming into place from England concerning American trade and taxation. The Townsend Acts of 1767 brought into accord laws of taxation on various luxuries such as glass, lead, paint, paper, and tea. The American colonists responded that they would not pay them because they had no representation in English politics. The English parliament retracted the Acts, though the tax duties on tea remained as they were. In May 1773 parliament, seeing the falling influence and power on the East India Company, gave them the rights to import tea into America. As one of the most popular non-alcoholic drinks available to the British colonies, tea was shipped across the world and it was therefore believed that the colonists would gladly pay for tea than not have it. The colonists would also pay a cheaper price for the tea as the duty tax placed on tea was also reduced. On the other hand if the colonists paid the duty tax on the imported tea then they would be recognising Parliaments right to tax them.
The turning point came with the arrival of tea laden ships into the colonies ports. The shipments to New York and Philadelphia were turned away, whilst the three ships sent to Boston were accepted with utter resentment. The tea ships presence in Boston rallied 7000 local men to call for the removal of the tea ships and the duty not to be paid. However the customs collector said that the tea ships would not leave without the duty tax thus the ships remained where they were. Rounding things together, on the evening of 16th December the tea supplies on the three ships was dumped in the port and the spark of revolution had been ignited. This almost small event created a chain of events that would led to the signing on the American Independence; the Battle of Lexington in 1775 and the retreat of a British force after an engagement with patriot troop and the capture of Fort Ticonderoga also in 1775 and the surrender of the British garrison without bloodshed. The Battle of Princeton, New Jersey in 1776 was the turning point in the campaign for freedom as the future first President of America George Washington defeated a British army on 3rd May. Finally the surrender of a large British army at Yorktown in 1781, six years later to a joint American and French force culminated in peace signing and the eventual creation of American Independence in 1783 with the Treaty of Paris.
This landmark event in history is therefore very important because it created or at least pushed forward a movement that would help found a nation. Whilst the Boston Tea Party was aimed at removing British taxes, it achieved some much more and helped encourage ideas of freedom and independence for the American colonists. Thanks for reading and apologies for this rather short blog entry.
The last site on this list has been suggested by Mitch and is a link to the Boston Tea Party Ship Museum in Boston. Take a look =)