Sam Adams Leads Colonial Raid in Boston Tea Party 246 Years Ago
England had just spent several years and tons of money protecting the North American Colonies from takeover by the French. The French and their allies the indigenous peoples of the regions, the Indians were attempting a move on all of the northeast, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts. The map of the British Colonies was about to start looking very different and this was known as the French and Indian War.
The British and American Colonists fought alongside each other against the French Army and Indians to save what is now Manhattan, Boston, Rhode Island and so on. But the cost of the war for England was high and naturally they expected the colonists themselves, to help pay for it since they, the colonists had also benefited.
By the way, if you don't recall the French and Indian War from school, you may recall the Mel Gibson movie 'Patriot' in which the peaceful farmer (Gibson) is actually an old and feared warrior, yeah, he was a warrior alongside the British in the aforementioned French and Indian War.
The King Raises Taxes
Countries pay for defending themselves by taxing their citizens sometimes personally but usually through fees added to manufactured or processed things we buy everyday. Personal taxation on one's income is an actually relatively new American idea from around 1913.
So England's crown began applying taxes to everything. Most things went unnoticed or weren't too egregious, but when they raised the tax on imported tea from China, the colonists had had enough. Imagine going to Starbucks tomorrow and your Cafe' Misto suddenly tripled in price due to a new tax. In colonial days, tea was the drink of the day, all day, every day.
In addition to the tax, the king was also trying to prop up the East India Tea Company who'd had a few ships sink in storms and was faltering. See, even in the 18th century government interference in private business wasn't always the brightest tact.
So on this night, one of the more mouthy complainers, one Samuel Adams of Boston, and cousin to future US President John Adams, led a gang of colonists disguised as Indians (wanted the king to think it was another French/Indian prank) boarded three tea ship just arrived in Boston Harbor, and busted open about three-fourths of the loads dumping them all into the harbor a value in 1773 of about eighteen thousand dollars.
Unverified popular stories of the day say the incoming tide made the seawater tea-tasting enough to sip, if not too salty.
Well, This Really Made Parliament Mad
Outraged at the blatant destruction of British property, Parliament enacted the Coercive Acts in 1774. These closed Boston Harbor to merchant shipping and established a formal military presence in Massachusetts, and demanded the colonists on their own dime house British soldiers.
The Colonists for the most part didn't like any of this. We know how that worked out, and it all kind of started on this night in Boston, 1773.