The Boston Tea Party’s Principles and Heroes - The Objective Standard

December 16 marks that bright spot in American history when Boston patriots sent a clear message to the British Parliament and King George III that the American colonists would not passively tolerate “taxation without representation.”

The colonists were by law British subjects, and Parliament maintained the “right” to regulate American commerce. However, the 1689 English Bill of Rights forbade rulers from imposing taxes on citizens who had no representative to speak on their behalf. Yet, during the 1760s, British leaders imposed taxes on the colonists with increasing rapidity while ignoring their right to representation. In May 1773, Parliament granted the British East India Company a monopoly on the sale of tea in America and charged the colonists a tea tax.

On November 28, 1773, the ship Dartmouth anchored in Boston Harbor with 114 chests of tea onboard. British law required the tax to be paid either on the twentieth day after the ship had arrived in port or when the tea came ashore, whichever came first. Samuel Adams, a prominent Bostonian, declared that anyone who did “aid or abet in unloading receiving or vending the Tea . . . while it remains subject to the payment of a duty here is an Enemy to America.”1 Adams led a group of radicals known as the Sons of Liberty, and they stationed guards at the wharf to prevent the tea from ever coming ashore. . . .

Endnotes

1. Samuel Adams, “Resolutions of the Town of Boston,” The Writings of Samuel Adams, vol. III, edited by Harry Alonzo Cushing (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1907), 67–69.

2. Adams, Writings of Samuel Adams, vol. III, 67–69.

3. The Eleanor arrived with another 114 chests on Thursday, December 2; and the Beaver arrived, also with 114 chests, on December 15.

4. George Hewes, “The Boston Tea Party, 1773," EyeWitness to History, http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/teaparty.htm (accessed December 16, 2017).

5. John Adams, diary entry on December 17, 1773, Founders Online, National Archives, last modified November 26, 2017, http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Adams/01-02-02-0003-0008 (accessed December 16, 2017).

6. John Adams, diary entry on December 17, 1773, Founders Online, National Archives, last modified November 26, 2017, http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Adams/01-02-02-0003-0008 (accessed December 16, 2017).

7. John Adams, diary entry on December 17, 1773, Founders Online, National Archives, last modified November 26, 2017, http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Adams/01-02-02-0003-0008 (accessed December 16, 2017).

8. Alexander Hamilton, “A Full Vindication of the Measures of the Congress, &c. [December 15, 1774,]” Founders Online, National Archives, last modified November 26, 2017, http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Hamilton/01-01-02-0054 (accessed December 16, 2017).

9. Thomas Jefferson, Writings (New York: Literary Classics of the United States, 1984), 8–9.

10. Jefferson, Writings, 110.

11. Joshua Wyeth, “Account by Joshua Wyeth” Boston Tea Party Historical Society, http://www.boston-tea-party.org/account-Joshua-Wyeth.html (accessed December 16, 2017).

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