This day in history, in the year 1773, served as a primary catalyst for the Revolutionary War, ultimately leading up to the creation of the greatest nation in history. On the surface, the Boston Tea Party may be perceived as facts well known; however, many interesting storylines and minutiae remain overshadowed or misunderstood.
There persists a common belief that the Boston Tea Party itself was the sole reason for the colonists’ unification against the British. In essence it was, but the large majority of the colonist’s upheaval originates from the British response to the Tea Party.
It may surprise some to know that the perpetrators taking action on that fateful night were frowned upon and their activities condemned – by none other than George Washington! The future-president chastised Samuel Adams’ Sons of Liberty by claiming the “vandals” were under obligation to compensate the East India Company for the destruction.
George Washington’s disapproval notwithstanding, the British enforcement of the “Intolerable Acts” following the Tea Party was a major impetus for America’s call-to-arms and formation of the Continental Congress – congress which would ultimately place George Washington at the head of the rebellion.
A connection could be made between green tea and the commander-in-chief. Nearly 25% of the overall cargo thrown overboard was made up of the healthy brew. George Washington held a strong liking towards it– possibly an amusing motivation behind condemning the destruction of it?
It is well-known that the British threw a temper tantrum upon the report of their tea’s disposal but what exactly was the monetary loss? Well, an estimated 92,000 pounds contained within 342 crates of British East India Company tea fell into the Massachusetts Bay’s murky waters. The damage is a rough equivalent to an astounding $1,700,000 in today’s currency.
While it is known that the Sons of Liberty were the main participants in the rallying cry, many of the individuals maintained relatively anonymous profiles – a sizable portion of the agents remain unidentified even today.
Alas, a piece of one particular rebel’s name may ring a bell: Thomas Melville. The grandson of the patriot is known by the name of Herman Melville, the author of the renowned novel Moby Dick.
An additional and somewhat unknown chain of events took place after the Boston Tea Party. Subsequent Tea Parties transpired in the following months and throughout 1774 across other colonies such as South Carolina and New York.
A reason for these other Tea Parties remaining relatively obscure in the annuls of history is that they resulted in significantly less monetary damage when compared to the original.
As you, the reader, have reached this point in the article, the name “Tea Party” has been explicitly mentioned a grand total of seven times. The actions taken place on December 16, 1773, hadn’t officially been referred to as the “Tea Party” even once until the event received the catchy title a century later in the newspapers!
Additionally, it began to be regularly recognized and embraced in society’s culture when two books referencing the Tea Party were published in 1830.
The Boston Tea Party shall continue to live on in our culture as an ever-lasting pillar in our country’s foundation.