Publish date:
Updated on
Year
1773

Sons of Liberty dump British tea

On this day in 1773, a group of Massachusetts colonists disguised as Mohawk Indians board three British tea ships moored in Boston Harbor and dump 342 chests of tea into the water.

Now known as the “Boston Tea Party,” the midnight raid was a protest of the Tea Act of 1773, a bill enacted by the British parliament to save the faltering British East India Company by greatly lowering its tea tax and granting it a virtual monopoly on the American tea trade. The low tax allowed the company to sell its tea even more cheaply than that smuggled into America by Dutch traders. Many colonists viewed the act as yet another example of Britain’s taxation tyranny.

In most American ports, the resistance group known as the Sons of Liberty scared off British tea-carrying ships by threatening their captains with tarring, feathering or worse. However, when three tea ships, the Dartmouth, the Eleanor and the Beaver, arrived in Boston Harbor and the colonists demanded that the tea be returned to England, Thomas Hutchinson, the British-appointed governor of Massachusetts, refused to permit the ships to leave. Patriot leader Samuel Adams organized the now-famous “tea party” with about 60 members of the Sons of Liberty. The British tea dumped into Boston Harbor on the night of December 16 was worth more than $700,000 in today’s currency.

Parliament, outraged by the blatant destruction of British property, enacted the Coercive Acts, called the “Intolerable Acts” by the colonists, in 1774. The Coercive Acts closed Boston to merchant shipping, established formal British military rule in Massachusetts, made British officials immune to criminal prosecution in America, and required colonists to quarter British troops. The colonists subsequently called the first Continental Congress to consider a united American resistance to the British.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!

ALSO ON THIS DAY

The Boston Tea Party

In Boston Harbor, a group of Massachusetts colonists disguised as Mohawk Indians board three British tea ships and dump 342 chests of tea into the harbor. The midnight raid, popularly known as the “Boston Tea Party,” was in protest of the British Parliament’s Tea Act of 1773, a ...read more

OJ Simpson rushes record 2,000 yards in a season

On December 16, 1973, the Buffalo Bills running back Orenthal James “OJ” Simpson becomes the first player in the National Football League (NFL) to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a single season. After leading the University of Southern California (USC) Trojans to a Rose Bowl ...read more

Clinton orders air attack on Iraq

On this day in 1998, President Bill Clinton announces he has ordered air strikes against Iraq because it refused to cooperate with United Nations (U.N.) weapons inspectors. Clinton’s decision did not have the support of key members of Congress, who accused Clinton of using the ...read more

A terrorist bomber begins his deadly rampage

Federal Judge Robert Vance is instantly killed by a powerful explosion after opening a package mailed to his housenear Birmingham, Alabama. Two days later, a mail bomb killed Robert Robinson, an attorney in Savannah, Georgia, in his office. Two other bomb packages, sent to the ...read more

Truman declares state of emergency

In the wake of the massive Chinese intervention in the Korean War, President Harry S. Truman declares a state of emergency. Proclaiming that “Communist imperialism” threatened the world’s people, Truman called upon the American people to help construct an “arsenal of freedom.” ...read more

Battle of the Bulge

On this day, the Germans launch the last major offensive of the war, Operation Mist, also known as the Ardennes Offensive and the Battle of the Bulge, an attempt to push the Allied front line west from northern France to northwestern Belgium. The Battle of the Bulge, so-called ...read more