On This Day in History -
Once the Tea Act was passed, the Company sent tea to several American ports. The tea never landed in New York or Philadelphia because patriots wouldn't allow it to be unloaded and the ships returned home. In Charleston, the tea was confiscated and resold to fund patriot activity against the British.
More dramatic events unfolded in Boston. The Company had sent four ships to Boston. The Dartmouth arrived on November 27th, but colonists wouldn't allow it to be unloaded. Two other ships arrived over the next two weeks and the fourth was lost in a storm. Patriots posted sentries to make sure the tea wasn't unloaded. By law, if import duties were not paid within 20 days, the ships and their cargo were to be confiscated and sold to pay the duties. Consequently, Governor Thomas Hutchinson would not allow the ships to return to England, which the owners and captains had volunteered to do.
The deadline for the confiscation was December 17. The colonists wanted to prevent the confiscation and sale of the cargo and ships since the money would still be used to pay the unjust taxes. This is the reason they picked December 16th for the Boston Tea Party. After a rousing meeting at the Old South Meeting House, several thousand citizens marched to Griffin's Wharf where the ships were docked. They cheered as dozens of men, some disguised as Indians to protect their identities, boarded the three ships and dumped 46 tons of tea into the harbor, so much that the water was brown for a week! Parliament’s response? To shut down the government of Massachusetts and close Boston Harbor until the tea was paid for. This response led directly to the colonists' forming of the First Continental Congress to create a unified colonial response to these Intolerable Acts, and to the outbreak of the American Revolution.
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