The Tea Act Is Passed By Parliament – 12/27/1773

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The Tea Act is voted on and passed by the British Parliament on December 27th, 1773. The bill was created to assist the struggling East India Company from declaring bankruptcy by significantly reducing the tax on tea it would owe the British government; this would also be declaring, in effect, a monopoly on the tea trade in America. Since all tea entered legally to the colonies through England, this would allow the East India Company to give a reduced tax payment to Britain as well as giving permission to sell tea in the colonies at a lower price. Once the bill took effect, even Dutch tea that had no taxes since it passed through the colonies illegally would cost more than East India tea; Dutch tea was able to reach the colonies through smuggling.

The legislation was proposed by British Prime Minister Fredrick Lord North and believed the colonists would never protest inexpensive tea; the British Prime Minister was gravely mistaken. Many colonists looked at the legislation as another example regarding taxation tyranny; specifically because it left a duty earlier as tea entered the colonies in place while getting rid of the duty on tea coming into England.

The situation escalated when the colonists insisted that the tea should go back to England when ships carrying the East India company tea arrived in the Boston Harbor; the three ships transporting the tea were the Beaver, the Dartmouth and the Eleanor. When Massachusetts Governor Thomas Hutchinson denied the request to send the cargo back, Patriot leader Samuel Adams created the well-known Boston Tea Party; Adams gathered roughly 60 members belonging to the radically anti-British Sons of Liberty. The Patriots disguised themselves as Mohawk Indians and stormed the British vessels in which they threw overboard the chests containing tea into the water valued then at $18,000 pounds; the value in today’s economy would be roughly $1 million.

Obviously, the act did not end the discourse between the British government and the colonists but instead increased the tension between the two. In fact, the Boston Tea Party as well as flagrant acts of destruction infuriated Parliament and led to the passing of new legislation known as the Coercive Acts; these were implemented a year later and were called the Intolerable Acts by the colonists. 

The four parts to the Coercive Acts were that colonists had no choice but to quarter British soldiers, merchant ships could not reach the colonists as Boston harbor was closed down, created in Massachusetts formal British military rule and established that British officials had total immunity in America from facing any criminal prosecution. Finally, the colonists formed the original Continental Congress to contemplate if a resistance of united Americans should be established to respond to what they viewed as oppression by the British.

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Meg Wong

Editor

One of the hardest working individuals, Meg sets the bar high when it comes to work ethic and being a great teammate. She learned these values at a young age while she was the captain of her high school volleyball team. Leading her team to 3 state championships and coming away victorious twice. You can still see the leader in her through everything she does for us here.