The Boston Tea Party was the defining event that helped inspire the American Revolution against England's rule of the colonies. Resentment had been fomenting for years as King George III placed restrictions on trade and imposed various taxes that the colonists felt were unfair.

One event that led up to the protest was the Tea Act in May of 1773, in which tea imported to the colonies was taxed. In those days the colonists were British citizens, subject to the whims of England's monarchy. Although they were taxed on good that were shipped from their homeland, they had no voice, no representatives and no say in their own governing. The Tax Act effectively rescued the nearly bankrupt East India Company and gave them a monopoly on the tea trade to the colonies. Since there were no competing traders, the company could charge what they wished for their goods in addition to the taxes imposed on the colonists that bought the tea and other merchandise that they needed for life's basic necessities.

The Boston Tea Party actually began in Philadelphia when those colonists forced East India Company agents to resign in an effort to gain some measure of control over the unreasonable taxes and rules of trade. It was March of 1773 and the resentment against the Crown was growing as complaints got more serious. Committees were formed as a way to communicate with the King and negotiate terms that were fairer to the colonists. The Tea Act two months later stoked the fires of contention and by November of that year three ships docked in Boston that would provide the focal point of an act of revolution.

Those ships sat in the harbor till December 16, 1773, the taxes on the tea unpaid and the cargo left in the holds. That night, about a hundred men disguised themselves as Native American warriors, forced their way aboard the ships and destroyed the cargo of tea by dumping all the containers into the cold waters of the harbor. The first violent act of revolution had happened and there was no turning back!

In the months that followed, King George, angered and humiliated by the defiance of the colonists, continued to enact new trade laws and taxes. Finally, late in 1774, the First Continental Congress met in Philadelphia to formally organize and protest unfair British rule of the colonies. By 1775, open rebellion broke out and the rest, as they say, is history!

Little did those brave men and women long ago know how much influence their act of protest would have in the centuries that followed. In demanding representation and a voice in their governance, they inspired the oppressed around the world and in the future. In the 21st century, that rebellion has inspired a new Tea Party that is, once again, protesting taxation without representation!


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