The Boston Tea Party
The American colonists were very unhappy at the British government for all these taxes they had to pay and no representation at all! This was the first major act of protest coming from the colonists but not the last.
Britain was in quite a bit of debt and the easiest thing to do was to tax those American colonists to help pay it off. After all, they felt it was the fault of the colonies that put them in that debt. The Stamp Act of 1765 created a tax on literally every piece of printed paper used: playing cards, documents, newspapers, etc. What about toilet paper? Joseph Gayetty was credited for inventing the first commercial toilet paper in 1857. So yes, if toilet paper were around as we know it today, it would have probably been taxed under the Stamp Act.
The next brain child of the British was the Townsend Act of 1767, to bring in more revenue. They thought it would be in their best interest financially to tax paint, glass, lead and tea.
March 5, 1770, brought on a more grisly event known as the Boston Massacre. The colonists were still not happy with having no representation in Parliament. Now there were British guards in their streets and also guarding the Boston Customs House. It was located near the waterfront and that is where the cargo from ships was inspected and maritime duties collected. Out of frustration, those pesky colonists threw snowballs at the guards. The guards called in reinforcements killing 5 colonists and wounding 6.
Britain decided to repeal the taxes they had imposed on the colonists except for the tea tax. Not the tea tax! The colonists consumed about 1.2 million pounds of tea a year and that would be a lot of lost revenue . This ushered in the Tea Act in May of 1773. Tea smuggling from Holland came into being due to the tax, which didn't sit well with the British, but it actually cost the colonists more to buy the smuggled tea than the taxed tea from the British East India Company. It was the principal of the thing.
The Sons of Liberty, colonial merchants and tradesmen, protested the arrival of the Dartsmouth from the British East India Company in the harbor. By December 16, it was joined by the sister ships, Beaver and Eleanor. On that morning, thousands of colonists refused to pay the tea tax or let the ships unload, store, sell or use the cargo. The Governor would not allow the ships to return to Britain and ordered the tea tariff to be paid. The colonists said no.
That night, a large group of men, many from the Sons of Liberty, dressed as Native Americans and boarded the ships. It took almost 3 hours for nearly 100 men to throw 342 chests of tea into the harbor. No one was hurt and the only destruction was to a padlock and the tea. They even swept the ships' decks before they left. The cost of the tea that was dumped in the harbor would be equivalent to about $1,000,000 today.
King George III and the Parliament were not pleased with what was done. So they passed the Coercive Acts, later known as the Intolerable Acts which included:
1. Closure of Boston Harbor until the tea lost in the Boston Tea Party was paid for.
2. End of the Massachusetts Constitution and end free elections of town officials.
3. Require colonists to quarter British troops on demand using their private homes if needed.
4. Extend freedom of worship to French-Canadian Catholics under British rule which angered the mostly Protestant colonists.
So the next time you sit down to enjoy your breakfast, you will remember why you are drinking coffee instead of tea. It is ironic though how we can see history repeat itself even today. Is any of this sounding familiar? More than ever, we need the State of Jefferson now.