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The Tea Act of 1773 Essay Sample

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The Tea Act of 1773 Essay Sample

The East India Company, which was famous for spreading English influence throughout India, had fallen on hard times in the early 1770s. Its market for Indian teas in the American colonies was disappearing because of a continuing fight between Britain and the colonies over taxes. (Colonial Era, n.d.)In 1767, British Parliament had imposed a tax on tea and other goods destined for the colonies. This series of taxes were called the Townshend Duties. (Colonial Era, n.d.)The colonies boycotted (refused to buy) British goods and  in 1770, the British taxes were lifted. The Americans continued to boycott tea. As a result, the East India Company had warehouses full of tea, but nowhere to sell it.

The British government responded in 1773 with a new tax designed to answer solve two problems: help the East India Company, and challenge the American colonists on the taxation issue. (Colonial Era, n.d.)

The Tea Act of 1773 said that tea was allowed to be shipped in East India Company ships directly from India to the American colonies. (Colonial Era, n.d.)A tax of three pennies per pound was to be collected on tea delivered to America. (Colonial Era, n.d.)

Ships with more than 500,000 pounds of tea set off for the colonies from India  in September 1773. American response to this was very negative. (Colonial Era, n.d.) Previously, American ships brought much of the tea from England, but that trade was now reserved for the East India Company. (Colonial Era, n.d.)The shop owners didn’t like the policy of using only selected merchants to sell the tea. Opposition developed to the arriving tea shipments in Boston and other colonial ports. (Colonial Era, n.d.) The radicals of Boston and the other colonies found friends in the business community, who were not on their side earlier.

Fear of public anger was made many of the appointed tea agents to resign their positions before the tea arrived. (Colonial Era, n.d.) In New York City and Philadelphia the ships’ masters quickly decided it was too dangerous to stay and headed back to England. (Colonial Era, n.d.) In Maryland, the ship owner was forced by an angry mob to set fire to his own ship and its cargo of tea.

The place where the situation was the worst was Boston. (Boston Tea Party, 2002) In that city, the royal Governor Thomas Hutchinson, whose relatives were the local tea agents, decided to stand up to the locals. (Boston Tea Party, 2002) The crisis came on December 16, 1773 when as many as 7,000 angry Bostonians hung about the wharf where the ships were docked. (Boston Tea Party, 2002)  The Collector of Customs (backed by Governor Hutchinson) refused to allow the ships to leave without payment of the taxes. Early that evening a group of about 200 men boarded the three ships and dumped the tea into the harbor. (Boston Tea Party, 2002)

            This Led Britain to pass the “Intolerable Acts” in 1774, which became one of the “last straws” for the colonists before the American Revolution.


“Colonial Era: Tea Act of 1773” (n.d.) Retrieved October 8th, 2008 from US History website: http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h1248.html

“The Boston Tea Party, 1773,”(2002). Retrieved October 8th, 2008 from EyeWitness to History website: www.eyewitnesstohistory.com

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