On December 16, 1773, American patriots dressed as Mohawk Indians boarded the vessels of the East Indian Company docked in the Boston harbor and dumped all the tea that was on the three ships into the ocean. They emptied 342 chests of tea which was valued at more than 10,000 pounds. This event became known as the "Boston Tea Party."
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The Boston Tea Party was a reaction to the Tea Act of 1773 that was passed by Parliament to save the British East India Company from bankruptcy. The Tea Act essentially eliminated all taxes on tea except the three pence Townshend tax. More importantly, it offered Americans tea at a lower price than that of the colonial smugglers. Hence, the British East Indian Company would be saved from bankruptcy, the colonial smugglers would be out of business, and the principle of parliamentary taxation would be upheld.
However, there were rumors that the Tea Act created an illegal monopoly so resistance to the importation of tea was encouraged throughout the colonies. If the people bought from the East India Company, it would give that company a monopoly of the American tea trade and establish the right of Parliament to raise a colonial revenue by means of port duties. Since the patriots believed that the cheap price of tea would be too much of a temptation to the people, the patriots took steps to maneuver Britain into a difficult position.
The patriots decided to reject tea shipments and they demanded that tea ships be permitted to return to England without paying the duty required by law. Over 5,000 townspeople of Boston and surrounding towns gathered at Old South Meeting House to plead with the governor to send the ships back to England. However, Governor Hutchinson refused and it was that night, December 16, that sixty men dressed as Mohawk Indians and went over to the Boston harbor. There they boarded the three ships of the East India Company and dumped over 10,000 pounds of tea into the Boston harbor. Parliament was furious and retaliated by passing the Coercive Acts, one of which closed the Boston harbor. Thus, the Boston Tea Party marked the beginning of violence in the dispute between mother country and colonies.