As architects, we rely heavily on tea and coffee. When we were in architecture school, we would simply go to the cafeteria and drink our favourite tea or coffee to get ourselves out of a bad mood if we were overwhelmed with work. Along with becoming an architect, As Indians, we cannot ignore the importance of tea in our daily lives. Without tea, our mornings and evenings are incomplete. But what if this tea had a high tax, and you could not purchase this tea with a high tax? This could cause some sort of internal agitation that could eventually spread to the rest of society. There was a tax agitation in America known as the Boston Tea Party.

Boston Tea Party_©wikimedia

What is Boston Tea Party?

The Boston Tea Party was a political demonstration at Griffin’s Wharf in Boston, Massachusetts, on December 16, 1773. Three hundred forty-two chests of tea imported by the British East India Company were dumped into the harbour by American colonists who were disappointed and upset with Britain for enforcing “taxation without representation.” The incident represented the first significant act of resistance to British colonial rule. It demonstrated to the British that Americans would not accept taxation and tyranny and galvanised patriots across the 13 colonies to fight for independence.

What is a tea tax? 

Parliament enacted a Tea Act in 1773 to aid the financially precarious East India Company by giving it three privileges: (1) a monopoly on all tea shipped to the colonies, (2) an exemption from the export tax, and (3) a “drawback” (refund) on duties due on specific surplus quantities of tea in its control. To avoid the independent colonial shippers and merchants, the tea shipped to the colonies had to be transported aboard East India Company ships and sold only through its agents. Thus, the business might undercut everyone else and sell the tea in America or Britain for less than usual.

An overview of the Boston Tea Party -Sheet2
The Tea Act_©

Timeline of a Tea party 

November 29, 1773: “The Body of the People”

On Monday, November 29, 1773, at Faneuil Hall, the first significant organised gathering to discuss the “tea problem” occurred after Dartmouth arrived. The Boston Committee of Correspondence and the Sons of Liberty, led by Samuel Adams, planned the gathering. The assembly drew so many concerned citizens that it had to be swiftly shifted to the Old South Meeting House because Faneuil Hall could not accommodate the crowds. As Boston’s most prominent public structure at the time, Old South Meeting House was chosen as the Patriot movement’s leading gathering site.

December 14 to 16, 1773: “The Final Straw”

Thomas Hutchinson, Massachusetts’s lieutenant governor and chief justice, issued an order prohibiting the departure of any vessel from Boston Harbor without a pass in December. Another significant gathering to talk about the “tea issue” was scheduled on Tuesday, December 14, at the Old South Meeting House as the deadline to pay the tax on the tea produced by Dartmouth drew near. In case the “tea crisis” could not be resolved diplomatically through negotiations, the Sons of Liberty prepared a course of action of the utmost secrecy. Boston residents were notified via a flyer that they should gather at the Old South Meeting House on December 14 at 10:00 a.m. to discuss their concerns.

Tuesday, December 14, 1773

On December 14, 1773, thousands of citizens from Boston and other Massachusetts towns met for the Old South Meeting. The meeting’s moderator was selected, and he is from Weston, Massachusetts. The decision was made to find a way to stop the British East India Company Tea from being unloaded, just like at the meeting on November 29 and 30.

Thursday, December 16, 1773

Thousands of people from all around Massachusetts assembled in Boston on Thursday, December 16, a day before the deadline for paying the tax on Dartmouth’s tea was due. They flocked to the Old South Meeting House, Griffin’s Wharf, the Green Dragon Tavern, and the streets. The Sons of Liberty did their best to excite the crowd in the stressful environment. Moreover, a third of all Boston residents were present at the gathering. The decision regarding what would be done must be made before midnight tea tax payment deadline.

Time was running out, and the Patriots utilised every legal option to prevent the Dartmouth from being unloaded after being denied a clearance to leave Boston Harbor safely and return her British East India Company tea cargo. Since Dartmouth’s arrival on November 28, the Sons of Liberty had been discreetly preparing a fallback plan in case diplomatic negotiations with government representatives failed to stop the dumping of the British East India Company tea.

The Symbolism of the “Indian Dress” | Boston Tea Party 

According to accounts, the participants were dressed as Mohawk or Narragansett Indians. They knew they would be recognised as non-Indians. Thus the disguise was more symbolic. The act of wearing an “Indian Dress” symbolised that the American colonists identified as “Americans” and no longer considered themselves British subjects. They wore wool blankets styled like matchcoats and painted their faces with soot and another garb generally referred to at the time as “Indian dress,” which had been adopted by troops during the French and Indian War, rather than dressing as Indians in the traditional sense with headdresses and complete authentic regalia.

An overview of the Boston Tea Party -Sheet
People Wearing Indian dress as Symbol_©nutty history

December 16, 1773: “The Destruction of the Tea” The Boston Tea Party

The Sons of Liberty, armed with a variety of axes, cracked open 340 chests of British East India Company tea that were on board the Beaver, Dartmouth, and Eleanor, weighing approximately 92,000 pounds (about 46 tonnes), and dropped them into Boston Harbor on the evening of December 16, 1773. The Boston Tea Party was reported to have cost the British East India Company £9,659 in damages.

An overview of the Boston Tea Party -Sheet4
Throwing of tea in ocean_©thewashingtonpost

December 17, 1773, to April 19, 1775: “The Aftermath”

After the tea was destroyed, many Boston Tea Party participants left the city to avoid being apprehended. During the Boston Tea Party, nobody perished. Between the Patriots, the Tories, and the British soldiers stationed in Boston, there was no fighting or violence. The crews of the Beaver, Dartmouth, and Eleanor were all unharmed. The Sons of Liberty were extremely cautious in how the Boston Tea Party was organised and carried out because it was the first act of resistance against British power.

An overview of the Boston Tea Party -Sheet5
The destruction of Tea_©jenikirbyhistory

Ensuring the Tea was Destroyed

After the Boston Tea Party, the smell of over 92,000 pounds of tea dumped into the harbour persisted for weeks. The Sons of Liberty would go out in boats and hit the tea with oars and clubs to sink it in the hopes of rendering the British East India Company Tea useless, preventing looters from salvaging the tea that had been dumped into Boston Harbor.

Response of Government 

In retaliation, the parliament approved the Coercive Acts (also known as the Intolerable Acts), which included the following provisions: closed Boston Harbor until the tea lost in the Boston Tea Party was paid for; abolished the Massachusetts Constitution and accessible elections for town officials; transferred judicial authority to Britain and British judges, thus establishing martial law in Massachusetts; obliged colonists to house British troops on demand, and granted French-Canadian Catholics freedom of religion. All the colonies saw the penal laws as additional proof of Britain’s tyranny, and they rallied to Massachusetts’ aid, sending supplies and hatching plans for further resistance. Instead of what Britain had hoped, the Coercive Acts quenched the New England rebellion and prevented the remaining colonies from uniting.


The Boston Tea Party, considered a pivotal moment in American history, was the first serious act of rebellion by American colonists. The Boston Tea Party had significant implications and an impact that ultimately sparked the American Revolution, which officially kicked up on April 19, 1775, in Massachusetts.

An overview of the Boston Tea Party -Sheet6
Boston Tea Party Stamp_©wikimedia

Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum

A museum on the Congress Street Bridge is dedicated to the Boston Tea Party. Reenactments, documentaries and interactive exhibitions are included. Eleanor and Beaver, two model ships from the era, are displayed in the museum. In addition, the museum’s permanent collection consists of a tea chest from the initial incident.

An overview of the Boston Tea Party -Sheet7
Boston Tea Party Museum_©Simpleviewinc

Interesting Facts about the Boston Tea Party

  • The Dartmouth, Eleanor, and Beaver were the three ships boarded and had their tea poured into the port.
  • Due to a smallpox outbreak, the Beaver spent two weeks in quarantine in the outer harbour.
  • It’s believed that the Boston Tea Party took place at the intersection of Congress and Purchase Streets. Despite being on the corner of a bustling roadway, this place was once submerged in water.
  • The ruined tea came originated in China.
  • The Boston Tea Party has been included in several movies:
    • The Boston Tea Party, an Edwin S. Porter film from 1908; The Boston Tea Party, a Eugene Nowland film from 1915
    • John B. Kennedy narrates the 1934 motion picture The Boston Tea Party.
    • The Boston Tea Party, a Disney educational movie with Johnny Tremain quotes (1957)


Following the Boston Tea Party, many other Americans believed drinking tea was not patriotic. Coffee replaced tea as the favoured hot beverage during and after the Revolution, which saw a drop in tea consumption.

The tax itself was never the problem; instead, it was how it was enacted without American input. From 1789 through 1872, tea was subject to a tax by the US Congress.

Other political protests frequently refer to the Boston Tea Party. A British newspaper linked the widespread burning of Indian registration cards in South Africa in 1908, Mahatma Gandhi organised, to the Boston Tea Party. Gandhi pulled some duty-free salt from his shawl when he met with the British viceroy in 1930 during the Salt Satyagraha campaign and said with a smile that the salt was “to remind us of the legendary Boston Tea Party.”


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Ducksters, 2022. American Revolution. [Online]
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[Accessed 22 11 2022]. editors, 2022. Boston Tea Party. [Online]
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Architect Neha Bhardwaj has a master's degree in architecture pedagogy. She loves to teach architecture and works hard to make it understandable for her students. Along with architecture, she enjoys writing about her feelings and views poetry as a form of architecture or vice versa.