5 Things You Didn't Know About The Boston Tea Party

On the winter night of Thursday, December 16, 1773, members of the Sons of Liberty disguised as Mohawk Indians dumped 342 chests of tea into Boston Harbor.  Here are five things you didn't know about the Boston Tea Party...

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The Financial Loss Was Significant It’s estimated that the protestors tossed more than 92,000 pounds of tea into Boston Harbor. That’s enough to fill 18.5 million teabags. The present-day value of the destroyed tea has been estimated at around $1 million.

The Tea Wasn't Destroyed Immediately, and Looting Was a Concern The tea was dumped in the water, but it was not destroyed immediately. A lot of tea got loose and not only stank up the harbor water, but it floated as well. The Sons of Liberty were concerned that looters would try to salvage the tea, so the Sons of Liberty would paddle into the harbor daily, beating any floating masses of tea with oars in an attempt to sink them and make them so waterlogged with salt water that they would be unusable. Some of the tea remained in its chests, and in the 1980s, a salvage team tried to recover the chests from the floor of the harbor.

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For Decades, The Identities of Participants Were Shrouded in Secrecy The band of protestors was tight-lipped. Even after American independence, they refused to reveal their identities, fearing they could still face civil and criminal charges as well as condemnation from elites for engaging in mob behavior and the wanton destruction of private property. Even today, only the names of some of the participants are known.

George Washington Condemned The Boston Tea Party Although America’s foremost Revolutionary figure wrote in June 1774 that “the cause of Boston…ever will be considered as the cause of America,” he strongly voiced his disapproval of “their conduct in destroying the Tea.” Washington, like many other elites, held private property to be sacrosanct and believed the perpetrators should compensate the East India Company for the damages.

There Was a Second Boston Tea Party Three months after the Boston Tea Party, Bostonians once again sent tea splashing when 60 disguised men boarded the Fortune in March 1774, forced the crew below deck and dumped tea chests into the harbor. The sequel wasn’t quite as impressive as the original, however, as only 30 chests were sent overboard.