1. The Tea Act was a British law that taxed American colonists on the purchase of tea. The colonists were upset because they were being taxed, although all of the money gained from the tax went directly to Britain and did not help Americans in any way. The colonists claimed this to be taxation without representation, because American interests were not represented in the British parliament. This made Americans feel exploited. As a form of protest, Americans rejected British tea by allowing ships carrying tea to dock. The Boston Tea Party went a step further and involved dumping tea into the harbor.
2. The naming of the modern Tea Party movement makes sense because one of the primary complaints held by this party is that taxes should be lowered. The original Boston Tea Party is considered a patriotic event, so this name also conveys a sense of American patriotism. However, the Tea Party also has other political goals outside of taxation, such as removing government-mandated health care. The general view of the modern Tea Party is that government has become involved in the lives of everyday Americans. Thus, the name makes sense because the original Boston Tea Party was a reaction against an oppressive government, but the modern Tea Party also has goals beyond the ones shared by the original movement.
3. The patriots main goal in destroying the tea was to send a message to the British parliament that unfair taxes would be rejected. A secondary goal was to inspire fellow Americans to join in the movement. Because the main issue was taxation without representation, Americans were originally seeking to be included in government decisions made by Britain. Their hope was that dumping tea would let the British know that their objections to taxation without representation should be taken seriously. In response, the British imposed harsher penalties, which eventually resulted in the American Revolution.
4. Not all Bostonians supported the actions of the Sons of Liberty. While some sympathized with British rule, others were uncertain which side to support. The Boston governor at the time was to make a decision, but instead simply left for the day, presumably so he would escape responsibility from deciding whether the Boston Tea Party should go ahead with its plan or not. Thus, the act of dumping tea was controversial. However, after the act was performed and the British retaliated by closing the Boston port, more colonists began to sympathize with the Sons of Liberty.
5. The patriots did not approve of people who tried to gather loose tea. According to the first person account by George Hewes, one captain who was caught trying to gather tea was shamed by being forced to flee through a crowd that repeatedly kicked him. Another older person who was caught was thrown into the water. The reason for this treatment was to discourage others from trying to gather tea. The reason the tea was not allowed to be used was because the message against its use was more effective if it was rejected entirely.
6. The destruction of $4 million of private property, if it occurred today, would be treated as a criminal act. Protests are only tolerated if they are peaceful and do not involve criminal activity. However, the reason the Sons of Liberty are remembered as patriots is because the political landscape was different at the time. They were being taxed without representation, which they viewed as a theft against the American colonists by the British. The concept of taxation without representation is no longer valid, as all Americans are represented by the American government through elected officials.
- Hewes, George. “Boston Tea Party Account.” Sons of Liberty, 1773.