The Boston Tea Party Museum
Our week of exploring Boston’s historical sites started this morning with our visit to the Boston Tea Party Museum. We took the narrated tour and spent some time in the Abbigail Adams Tea Room, where we tasted the five types of tea thrown into the Harbor that fateful December night in 1773. It was enjoyable and educational. We recommend a visit if you are ever in Boston.
The Story of the Boston Tea Party…
The Boston Tea Party is considered to be the first important event of the American Revolution. This monumental event and the reasons behind it are a foundational element of the first book in The Chronicles of Liberty. One of the main reasons we’ve traveled here is to see the sites where the history of our country’s Fight for Independence began.
Most of us know at least an overview of the story…a band of men from The Sons of Liberty dressed like members of the Mohawk tribe, stormed aboard some ships loaded with British Tea, and destroyed the tea by throwing it in the harbor.
Like most well-known events in history, the Boston Tea Party has been condensed down to the three hours it took the men to throw the tea into the harbor. In reality, the story started long before that December night in 1773.
Let’s back up just a bit to unwrap the backstory a little…
Back in the year 1754, the British American colonies were pulled into a war between France and England. If you have ever studied history, you probably know that this war was a theater of a bigger war – the Seven Years’ War, which was during the Second Hundred Years’ War.
We Americans simply call the war The French and Indian War (1754-1763). The Native American tribes (in the lands mostly west of the Appalachian Mountains) fought with the French against the British, who, of course, enlisted the help of colonists to fight with them.
Two important details of the American Revolution have their roots in the French and the Indian War.
First, the British won that war and therefore gained massive amounts of land that were previously under the control of France. This amount of new land made it necessary for the British to bring in many more soldiers to guard and patrol it.
Second, many American Colonists did not appreciate how they were enlisted to fight for the British, yet in many ways, they were treated like second rate citizens. They lacked representation in the British Parliament. When the British government began creating special taxes just for the American colonies, many colonists were angry.
Hard feelings had been brewing for a while, and in March 1770, fighting broke out between a crowd of colonists and a group of nine British soldiers. Shots were fired and when the smoke cleared, there were five dead colonists.
Leading Patriots, Paul Revere and Samuel Adams, made sure the event was publicized as “a massacre.” Tomorrow (Tuesday), we are going to go to the area of Boston where this event unfolded, along with several other historical sites.
Tension was high, and by 1773, the Sons of Liberty, led by Samuel Adams, were gaining support and a widespread boycott of specific English imports including tea.
The tea boycott was not simply a group of women refusing to drink British Tea. At this time in history, clean water sources were rare, and the American colonies were no exception. Water had to be boiled before it was consumed, and tea was used to make sure this process was completed and made the water more palatable.
Before the actual Tea Party, the Patriots had taken many steps to prevent the unloading of the tea from the ships. Among these steps was the impressing upon the colonial government liaison to the East India Company the importance of not allowing the unloading of the tea.
In response to the destruction of the tea (valued at around a million dollars in today’s money), King George III sent four regiments of soldiers to Boston. The city was placed under martial law and the harbor was closed to trade and business. The colony of Massachusetts lost its constitution and free elections of town officials were ended.
Interestingly, neither Benjamin Franklin or George Washington thought the demonstration was a good idea, although they ultimately stood behind the Sons of Liberty’s actions. The following year in March, another similar demonstration took place, with another sixty crates of tea thrown into the harbor.
The road to Revolution was inevitable. Although many of the colonists believed the war they fought was for a reformed relationship between the mother country and her the colonies, it would soon become apparent that the Revolution would become a War for Independence.
Tomorrow, we head out to the Freedom Trail. Stay tuned for pictures!