On December 16, 1773, colonists tossed 342 crates of tea overboard in what would come to be known as the Boston Tea Party. So try your luck with these trivia questions.
What Was the Tea Party Protesting?
Ah, the Boston Tea Party, protesting taxation without representation as a new British tax on tea sent prices skyrocketing, right? Well, not exactly. The Tea Act actually lowered taxes on tea sold by the East India Company and lowered the overall cost of the beverage. Thanks to the legislation, tea now cost about half of what it cost over in England.
So why all the outrage? This tax break allowed the East India Company to undercut the price of tea being sold by others in the colonies, including that smuggled in by people like John Hancock. You may recognize that name "John Hancock." He was one of the people who got everyone else all fired up for the Tea Party in the first place.
How Much Tea Was Destroyed? On the night of the Boston Tea Party, the costumed raiders dumped roughly 340 chests of tea into the waters of Boston Harbor. According to estimates made at the time, about 92,000 pounds of tea were thus destroyed. To give you some idea of how much tea that is, in an article posted at History.com writer Christopher Klein estimated it was enough to fill between 18 million and 19 million teabags. In today's dollars, the price tag for the tea destroyed on the night of December 16, 1773, was $1 million, according to Klein. As it turned out, it was a loss that British authorities could not ignore.
What Problem Did the Colonists Notice the Next Day Concerning Their Attempts to Destroy All That Tea? While the colonists had successfully thrown plenty of tea overboard and stunk up all of Boston Harbor, they soon realized that they had actually screwed up the main objective of the mission: Destroying all the tea. Plenty of crates were bobbing up and down in the water, still intact enough that you could get out some perfectly good tea if you wanted it. And if you thought East India Company prices were undercutting business before, you should see how much free tea undercuts sales. So the Sons of Liberty had to get back out to the water and destroy what was left. As revolutionary George Hewes put it, "The next morning, after we had cleared the ships of the tea, it was discovered that very considerable quantities of it were floating upon the surface of the water; and to prevent the possibility of any of its being saved for use, a number of small boats were manned by sailors and citizens, who rowed them into those parts of the harbor wherever the tea was visible, and by beating it with oars and paddles so thoroughly drenched it as to render its entire destruction inevitable." It sounds to us a lot like storming out in anger and slamming the door to end a big fight, then having to come back into the room because you accidentally forgot your car keys.
What Similar Revolutionary Act Happened Three Months after the Boston Tea Party? There was actually more than one Boston Tea Party. There was a second one three months after the first, this one happening in March of 1774. And there were even more non-Boston Tea Parties. In New York, they threw tea into the Hudson, and in Charleston, South Carolina, they tossed it into the Cooper River. And in Annapolis, Maryland, colonists saw to it that the offending ship was set on fire. We guess what we're saying is that in the 1770s, everyone was throwing tea parties.