From time to time I read articles from leftists that state that the Boston Tea Party was nothing more than rich American smugglers unhappy that British tea was cheaper; as a result they dumped the tea to protect their market.
Not only is this incorrect, it's completely ignorant of American history.
American colonists in the 1770s (at this time, still a colony of Great Britain) loved their tea. In 1698, the British East India Company was given a monopoly to import tea in 1698. To protect their company, in 1721 they passed a law which REQUIRED American colonists to buy English tea.
This didn't sit well with the American colonists for a couple reasons. One, the East India Company was required to pay Great Britain a 25% tax on all tea sold. Coupled with forcing Americans to buy this tea, this opened the market for smugglers (such as John Hancock) to smuggle cheaper Dutch tea into America. Smugglers also smuggled tea into Great Britain itself, which actually smuggled more illicit tea than America.
This of course made the East India Company upset as they could not compete with the Dutch tea. As a result they lobbied and got Parliament to pass a repeal of the 25% tax. Problem solved, right?
Wrong. British politicians were used to the revenue of that 25% tax; now they had to pass another tax to make up for their loss (sound familiar?). So Parliament passed the Townshend Acts in 1767, which was a tax on many things, including tea. Many other taxes were imposed by British Parliament, such as the Stamp Act in 1765; the Stamp Act repealed in 1766 (one year later) after protests from the American colonists.
Another law passed in 1765/expired in 1767 was the Quartering Act. This Act allowed for British soldiers to be housed (quartered) at the expense of the colonists. The Province of New York passed an act to quarter British troops that expired in 1764; as a result Parliament passed the Quartering act which forced New York to house soldiers in private inns and houses and have the Colonies foot the bill. The forced quartering of British troops was the main reason for the 3rd Amendment of the Constitution.
The Townshend Acts, just one year after the Stamp Act was repealed, met with instant furor from the American colonists. Patriots arguing for no taxation without representations and against the oppressive nature of the British government were becoming increasingly popular.
At this time, the notion that ALL taxes implemented by Britain were unconstitutional as the American colonists had no representation in Parliament. The notion that America and Great Britain
were dividing was becoming more and more palpable.
To enforce the wildly unpopular Townshend Acts, Great Britain sent military troops to America in 1768. A riot broke out in Boston in 1968 after the British captured John Hancock's ship on allegations he was smuggling. With growing unrest over the British oppression and control, and increased military troops sent to America, violence was inevitable.
On March 5th, 1770, the Boston Massacre broke out. British troops fired on an angry mob of Bostonians, leaving 5 Americans dead. That same day, the British Prime Minister Lord North presented a motion in Parliament to repeal the Townshend Acts. However, the tax on tea remained because Parliament wanted to assert that they had the RIGHT to tax the colonists.
In 1773, Parliament passed the Tea Act. This removed completely the British tax on East India Company tea, and allowed the East India Company to sell directly to America, undercutting middlemen. This allowed the East India Company to sell below the prices smugglers offered. However, the tax on tea remained; the British attempted to conceal the tax but it was found out by the colonists.
In December 1773, the ships carrying the British tea arrived in Boston, just after the news of the Tea Act came to the colonies. Thousands of Bostonians met on November 29, 1773. They gave the demand to Governor Hutchinson that the ships leave Boston Harbor with the tea; they gave a deadline of December 16th. On December 16th, the deadline passed, and 5000 Bostonians, 1/3 of the entire population of Boston, were gathered in the Old South Meeting House. After a signal by Samuel Adams, the crowd stormed out, boarded the ships, and dumped all 342 chests of tea into Boston Harbor.
Here is what Abigail Adams, wife of John Adams, said of the meetings in the Old South Meeting House:
"The tea that bainfull weed is arrived. Great and effectual opposition has been made to the landing of it...the proceedings of our citizens have been united, spirited and firm. The flame is kindled and like lightening it catches from soul to soul..."
Here is a handbill plasted throughout Boston on December 14th:
"Friends! Brethren! Countrymen! The perfidious act of your reckless enemies to render ineffectual the late resolves of the body of the people, demands your assembling at the Old South Meeting House, precisely at ten o’clock this day, at which time the bells will ring. "
Many such boycotts of British tea took fire across the colonies.
Women were also involved in boycotting British tea, such as the Edenton Tea Party in Oct 1774.
After the Boston Tea Party in 1773, Britain passed a number of oppressive laws known as the Intolerable Acts in April 1774. These acts asserted more control over the colonies and consolidated even more power in Great Britain instead of locally at the colonies.
Seeking to quell dissent and force colonists to fall in line with the Intolerable Acts, instead he unified opinion against Great Britain.
On April 19, 1775, the first shots of the American Revolution were fired in Lexington and Concord.
So clearly, the Boston Tea Party was one reaction to many actions of the British Parliament that sought to control the American colonies. Any leftist that seeks to minimize the Boston Tea Party as a solitary act of smugglers (1/3 of the population of Boston were smugglers?) is either wildly ignorant of American history or purposely lying. They refuse to look at the Boston Massacre, the Townshend Acts, the Stamp Act, the Quartering Act, and everything else that created the anger of the Boston Tea Party. The Tea Act that allowed the East India Company to lower prices below the smugglers was passed in May 1773, a few months before the Dec 1663 Boston Tea Party. Yet American colonists were upset with Britain for DECADES before that. Also, why would smugglers that profit off the higher tax of East India Company tea be opposed to the Townshend Acts, which put a tax on tea? You would think Founding Fathers that were smugglers (such as John Hancock) would jump for joy at a tax on British tea because it makes their Dutch tea cheaper by comparison; yet they universally and publicly opposed such tax increases.
Clearly the leftist article that the Boston Tea Party was the product of American smugglers is laughably stupid.
The Boston Tea Party was one example of many of a group of Americans fighting for their freedom against an increasingly oppressive government that sought only to control without regard for the will of their citizens. Many in America previously wanted to side with Britain, and many in Britain wanted to work together with the Colonies and not be so heavy-handed. Britain's arrogance and failure to address the colonists concerns eventually catalyzed a majority of Americans into opposition to British rule. It was this ceaseless desire for freedom and the oppressive government that fought them that eventually caused open war, with the American colonists winning and finally gaining...