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The Boston Tea Party

Improtant People & Events


April 1, 1774 - King George III and Parliament responded decisively this week to The Boston Tea Party by closing the city port.

Four British regiments were sent to Boston, along with new Governor General Thomas Gage, who will replace the much-maligned Thomas Hutchinson.

Hardliners in the British government, looking for reasons to clamp down on the Bay colony, found their cause last December when the Sons of Liberty made a salty Darjeeling of Boston Harbor. 342 crates of tea were dumped into the ocean in response to a parliamentary act which imposed restrictions on the purchase of tea in the colonies.

In London, Massachusetts' agent to the British government, Benjamin Franklin, also felt the wrath of the British government. Franklin was excoriated in Parliament's Privy Council by Scottish barrister Alexander Wedderburn for his role in publishing some private correspondence damaging to Hutchinson.

For his part, Franklin stood stoically through the ordeal, but was heard to mutter "I shall make your king a little man for this," to Wedderburn as both left the council at the end of the day.

The tea party, Franklin's roasting in Parliament and now the closing of Boston harbor exemplify the hardening of positions on both sides of the Atlantic.

Relations began to sour soon after Britain tried to exact a price from her colonists for the protection of America and its ever expanding frontier. The 1765 Stamp Act, which was intended by Parliament to provide the funds necessary to keep the peace between settlers and the Native American populations in the wilderness, was loathed throughout the colonies. While its repeal in Parliament a year later was applauded by Americans, the British Government quickly enacted other provisions designed to fulfill the same function. Each was met with resistance in America. (At left, The Boston Massacre.)

Where Britain's actions will lead is the subject of wide speculation. While there is talk in America of some concerted effort on the part of the colonies to protest the closing of Boston harbor, historically, the colonies have been a diverse lot and many are skeptical whether they can unite in this cause. In any case, emotions are running high, and a sense of gloom is encompassing Massachusetts, and other colonies in America. One patriot mournfully observed, "Our cause is righteous and I have no doubt of final success. But I see our generation, and perhaps our whole land, drowned in blood."

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