How many of chests of tea were tossed overboard in Boston tonight in 1773?
December 16, 1773 — Tonight, Samuel Adams and the Sons of Liberty boarded three ships in Boston Harbor and began tossing 342 chests of tea overboard.
This dramatic act will result in the passage of the Coercive Acts in 1774, which pushed the Americans and British closer to war.
The drama started eight months earlier, on April 27, 1773, when the British Parliament passed the Tea Act. That bill — designed to save the faltering East India Company from bankruptcy by greatly lowering the tea tax it paid to the British government — granted it a de facto monopoly on the American tea trade.
Because all legal tea entered the colonies through England, allowing the East India Company to pay lower taxes in Britain also allowed it to sell tea more cheaply in the colonies. Even untaxed Dutch tea, which entered the colonies illegally through smuggling, was more expensive the East India tea, after the act took effect.
British Prime Minister Frederick Lord North initiated the legislation, thought it impossible that the colonists would protest cheap tea. Not only did many of the settlers rightly realize the act was just a reprise of the hated Townshend duties, but the establishment of special channels of distributions and sales left many shopkeepers cut out of the deal infuriated.
Words of Wisdom
Comtemplate the mangled bodies of your countrymen and then ask yourself, What should be the reward of such sacrifices... If ye love wealth better than freedom, the tranquility of servitude than the animating contest of freedom, go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands that feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.