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December 16, 1773 will always be remembered in the history of America as the Boston Tea Party day. On this day, a group of angry young men donned war paint and swooped down 3 British ships that were anchored in the Boston harbor.
The three ships – Dartmouth, Eleanor, Beaver – had arrived from England and in their hold were 342 chests of tea. The young men boarded the ships one by one, broke open the cargo locks, opened the tea chests and sent bags of tea flying into the sea. Their work accomplished the men left.
The next morning they returned, this time in their boats, and used their oars to beat down into water whatever packets that were found floating to make sure that the tea was destroyed fully. There was no violence, and no other property was damaged. In fact, the protesters even swept the decks of the three ships clean!
The protesters were angry at the tax of 3d per lb that was imposed by the British government on tea. The protesters were also upset at the monopoly rights that were conferred by the British Government on East India Company. This gave East India Company the powers to bypass American tea merchants and appoint its own distributors and retailer across the US.
The first step the Americans took was to boycott the British tea. But when that did not work they decided to block the entry of British tea into the US. This was a brave move and for several days the tea could not be offloaded from the three ships that were docked in the Boston port.
However, when the Customs cleared the ship’s papers the people of Boston decided to take things into their own hand. The rest as they say is history. The incident, which came to be known as the Boston Tea Party, inspired Americans to boycott British tea in other parts too. The tea that was shipped to New York and Philadelphia was returned to London, while tea off-loaded at Charleston was left to rot in the warehouses.
As expected, the British government retaliated, and passed five laws in 1774 – laws which came to be known as the Intolerable Acts. These acts only steeled the resolve of Americans living in the 13 British colonies to shake off foreign rule. The result: American Revolution and the Declaration of Independence.