How harmful was the Tea Act of 1773 to the American colonies?

How harmful was the Tea Act of 1773 to the American colonies?

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The Tea Act of 1773 was passed by the Parliament to rescue the East India Company. However, I read somewhere that it would have actually made tea cheaper everywhere in the Empire1. By this argument, the Tea Act of 1773 was actually beneficial for the colonies.

  1. What were the actual impacts of the Tea Act on the price of tea in the colonies?
  2. What did the colonies perceive as the impact of the Tea Act?
  3. If there is a gap between actual impact and perceived impact, why?


The quote is from lecture from a series on History of the United States, and is as follows:

What blew the lid off this uneasy peace was the Tea Act of 1773. Which is odd, because the Tea Act not only did not involve any new taxes, but actually offered Americans a luxury item at bargain prices. The Tea Act in fact didn't even begin in the America, it originated halfway around the world, in India [… ]. But Americans, far from being grateful at visions of a cheap cup of tea, Americans were only prepared to put the most sinister of constructions on the Tea Act. Lowering the price of tea, they thought, was a trick, to induce Americans to buy at a bargain and thus lure them into paying that one remaining [inaudible - mostly Townshend] tax -- the tax on tea. And when they did that, that would legitimize Parliament's claim to taxing rights in America.

The Tea Act did not involve new taxes.It was, however, designed to give the British East India Company (BEIC) a monopoly on tea trade.

Prior to this, Americans drank a lot of untaxed tea from other sources (including smuggling). The monopoly given to the BEIC meant that all tea would now be taxed.

The BEIC was struggling under the burden of taxes it had to pay (and the Americans did not). The new monopoly meant that the BEIC could "pass on" their taxes to the Americans. This was good for the company, good for the "system" as a whole, but bad for Americans who formerly had escaped tea taxes.

American Revolution (1754-1789) Flashcards Preview

1764 British act forbidding the colonies to issue paper money as legal tender

Repealed in 1773 by the British as an effort to ease tensions with the colonies

1773 act by Parliament that would provide the colonies with cheap tea, but at the same time force the colonies to admit that Parliament had a right to tax them

Effort to resolve financial problems of the East India Company

Rebates and tax exemptions allowed East India Company to dumb low cost tea in colonial market

Sons of Liberty resisted, most notably at the Boston Tea Party

Britain responded with the Coercive Acts

In response to the Tea Act and additional British taxes on tea, Boston radicals disguised as Native Americans threw nearly 350 chests of tea into Boston harbor on December 16, 1773

East India Company lost about $4 million

Parliment closed Boston harbor and passed the Coercive Acts

Signed on September 3, 1783, formally ending the Revolutionary War

Britain recognized American independence

United States received a western boundary at the Mississippi River

Spain received Florida, and France received territory in Africa and the West Indies

December 26, 1776 surprise attack launched by George Washington's army against Hessians at Trenton, New Jersey

30 Hessians were killed and 950 captured, while only 3 Americans were wounded

Victory gave a great psychological boost to the American war effort

An effort to pay for the British army located in North America, this 1764 measure taxed sugar and other imports

Tried to raise money from the American trade with the French West Indies

Harsh penalties were imposed on smugglers who did not pay the duty

Established states of self-government for the WEst

Drafted by Thomas Jefferson

Divided regions into districts governed by Congress and then admitted to the Union

Crowds of debt-ridden farmers attempted to close courts in western Massachusett

Aim was to prevent the seizure of land for failure to pay debts and state taxes

Governor Bowdoin dispatched the army to disperse 1,000 arrested in January 1787

Started debate over national authority versus state liberty

Started with 1754 effort by British to dislodge French from forts in western Pennsylvannia

George Washington lost 1/3 of men at Fort Necessity from attack by French and Indians

British Prime Minister turned around war by pouring money and people

British Prime Minister who took office in 1757

Poured money and people into Seven Years' War

Agreement that concluded the Seven Years' War

France ceded Canada to Britain, getting Guadeloupe, Martinique

Spain ceded Florida to Britain in return for Cuba and acquired Louisiana colony

Ended France's 200 year old empire

Left Indians dependent on British

Indians launched revolt in Ohio Valley and Great Lakes

Influenced by teachings of Neolin, a Delaware religious leader

Ottawas, Huron and other indians attacked Detroit in 1763

Prohibited settlement west of the Appalachian Mountains

Goal was to stabilize relations between British and Indians

Conflict between British soldiers and Boston civilians on March 5, 1770

Civilians threw rocks and snowballs at the soldiers, the soldiers opened fire, killing 5 and wounding 6

Parliment passed in 1765 to help pay for the British Army in North America.

Imposed tax on all legal documents and newspapers

Resistance was severe and it was eventually repealed first major split between the colonists and Britain

Men who organized opposition to British policies during the late 1760s and 1770s

Founded in Boston in response to the Stamp Act

Organized the Boston Tea Party

Samuel Adams was one of their leaders

1765 British edict stating that to help defend the empire, colonial governments had to provide housing and food for British troops

Many colonists perceived this to be the ultimate insult

On October 17,1777, British army General John Burgoyne wsa forced to surrender

American victory pesuaded the French government to sign a treaty of alliance with the United States and enter the war against Great Britain

German troops who fought for Great Britain during the Revolutionary War

Mercenaries sold into British service by German princes who raised money by hiring out their regiments

Place were George Washington camped his army during the winter of 1777-1778

Soldiers suffered from hunger, cold, and disease, leading 1,300 to desert

Morale was raised by the drilling and discipline instilled by Baron Von Steuben, a former Prussian officer

Richard Henry Lee of Virginia moved that the Second Continental Congress declare this on June 7, 1776

Thomas Jefferson wrote the first draft

Formally approved on July 2 and formally announced on July 4

Declaration of Independence

Member of the Virginia House of Burgesses

Introduced resolutions protesting the Stamp Act

Proclaimed that the act showed the tyranny of King George III, and reminded the king of the fates of Caesar and Charles I

Many considered his speech treasonous

Mssachusetts town were the first skirmish between British troops and colonial militiamen took place

During April 19, 1775 fight, 8 colonists were killed and another 9 were wounded

Occured on April 19, 1775 between British regulars and Massachusetts militiamen

More than 70 British soldiers died and another 174 were wounded

Enabled a wider conflict between colonies and British to become much more probable

Ralph Waldo Emerson referred to it as the "shot heard round the world"

Meeting of delegates from the American colonies that began in May 1775

Some delegates hoped that the differences between the colonies and Britain could be reconciled

Congress authorized the creation of a Continental Army led by George Washington

Second Continental Congress

Colonists who remained loyal to Great Britain during the American Revolution

Many came from upper strata of society

Large numbers moved to Canada, the West Indies, or Great Britan

Massachusetts Assembly response to the Townshend Acts, asking other colonies to work together and jointly issue a petition of protest

Strong-willed response of the British authorities led to the colonial assemblies to work more closely together

The Tea Act: American Revolutionary Leadership

[April 27, 2015] Failure to recognize possible unintended consequences from decisions anticipated otherwise, is a failure of leadership. On this date in 1773, the British Parliament passed the Tea Act designed as an advantage to both the British Empire and the American Colonies. Unexpectedly, the American revolutionary leadership convinced other colonists that the Tea Act was another example of taxation tyranny.

So what? What does history have to say about present day? Passage of the Tea Act pushed the colonies onto a path that led directly to the American Revolution … and that is a lesson for all senior leaders. The failure of Lord North Frederick, the British Prime Minister, thought it impossible that the colonist would protest cheap tea … he was wrong. 1

The Tea Act, while it lowered the cost of British tea, left in place an earlier duty on tea entering the colonies, removing only duty on tea entering from England. It did not go unnoticed that the act also created a monopoly for the British tea with its lower price. 2 Due to the passage of the Tea Act, later in 1773, American Patriots famously dressed as Mohawk Indians boarded British ships in Boston Harbor and dumped the British tea chests.

Outraged, the British Parliament passed the Coercive Acts and closed Boston Harbor. Less than two years later, the American Revolution began in earnest. At the end of the war, the cost to the British Empire was more than the loss of a war but the loss of its reputation as a world power that was defeated by a ragtag group of savage revolutionaries. 3 There were, of course, a number of misjudgments about the American colonies that the British failed to recognize … the Tea Act being simply one of the biggest problems.

Leaders must be able to predict potential consequences of any of their actions, regardless of whether they will come true. Contingency plans should be made to overcome specific problems associated with them. Predicting those consequences is the peak of skill in any leader and conversely those who cannot are doomed to fail.

Second Continental Congress

Continental Congress was the body of delegates who spoke and acted collectively for the people of the colony-states that later became the United States of America. The term refers specifically to the bodies that met in 1774 and 1775–81 and respectively designated as the First Continental Congress and the Second Continental Congress.

Before that Second Continental Congress assembled in the Pennsylvania State House, hostilities had already broken out between Americans and British troops at Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts. New members of the Second Congress included Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. John Hancock and John Jay were among those who served as president. The Congress “adopted” the New England military forces that had converged upon Boston and appointed Washington commander in chief of the American army. It also acted as the provisional government of the 13 colony-states, issuing and borrowing money, establishing a postal service, and creating a navy. Although the Congress for some months maintained that the Americans were struggling for their rights within the British Empire, it gradually cut tie after tie with Britain until separation was complete. On July 2, 1776, with New York abstaining, the Congress “unanimously” resolved that “these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states.” Two days later it solemnly approved this Declaration of Independence. The Congress also prepared the Articles of Confederation, which, after being sanctioned by all the states, became the first U.S. constitution in March 1781.

The Articles placed Congress on a constitutional basis, legalizing the powers it had exercised since 1775. To underline this distinction, the Congress that met under the Articles of Confederation is often referred to as the Congress of the Confederation, or the Confederation Congress. This Congress continued to function until the new Congress, elected under the present Constitution, met in 1789.

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16 December 1773: The Boston Tea Party protest

Few people would have guessed that throwing crates of tea off a ship would lead to one of the biggest revolutions in history. Yet, on this day in 1773 a group calling itself the Sons of Liberty carried out the Boston Tea Party protest and paved the way for the American Revolution.

The group, dressed as native Americans and led by Samuel Adams, an unsuccessful businessman and tax collector, boarded the ship and destroyed 2,000 chests, containing 92,000 lb of tea, by throwing them into the sea. The tea belonged to the powerful and influential East India Company.

The spark for the protest was the Tea Act of May 1773. The new law forced the 13 American colonies to buy their tea from the East India Company. The company was in dire financial straits and had much more tea stored in its British warehouses than it was able to sell. Technically, the Tea Act was not a tax. But it did give the East India Company such a total monopoly that many, including Adams and the Sons of Liberty, viewed it as one. Their slogan was “no taxation without representation”.

The Tea Party was a spark for revolution, and the British provided most of the fuel. Their response was harsh. Parliament in London passed laws in 1774 known as the Coercive Acts that ended local self-rule in Massachusetts and entirely closed the port of Boston.

As a result of the Coercive Acts, more and more acts of defiance sprang up across the 13 colonies. The cycle of escalation continued until both sides were at war. By 1778 the situation had got so out of hand that parliament passed the Taxation of the Colonies Act 1778, which repelled the Tea Tax as well as others.

But it was all too little too late. Ten years after the Boston Tea Party protest, in 1783, the guns of war fell silent and the colonies became fully independent. Samuel Adams became one of the Founding Fathers of the United States.

Quebec Act

Though it did not have a direct effect on the thirteen colonies, the Quebec Act was considered part of the Intolerable Acts by the American colonists. Intended to ensure the loyalty of the king's Canadian subjects, the act greatly enlarged Quebec's borders and allowed the free practice of the Catholic faith. Among the land transferred to Quebec was much of the Ohio Country, which had been promised to several colonies through their charters and to which many had already laid claim. In addition to angering land speculators, others were fearful about the spread of Catholicism in American.

Which best describes the Boston Tea Party of 1773? American Indians boarded ships in Boston Harbor and dumped a shipment of tea into the water. Colonists in disguise boarded ships in Boston Harbor and dumped a shipment of tea in the water. The British dumped tea in Boston Harbor after colonists boycotted a shipment of tea, refusing to buy it. Colonists met in Boston's Old South Meeting House to discuss how to smuggle tea into the colonies.

A) the provocation against the British authorities to enact and implement more coercive and authoritarian laws governing the colonies.

The Townshend Acts of 1767 imposed taxes on various products imported by the British colonies, generating a series of protests. As a result, they were repealed in 1770 and only the tea tax was maintained. Boston merchants then received smuggled tea, helping Parliament pass the Tea Act, which granted the East India Company a monopoly on all tea exported to the colonies, among other perks. In New York, Philadelphia, and Charleston, merchants refused shipments, but in Boston Governor Thomas Hutchinson kept the law by allowing three ships to unload. On the night of December 16, 1773, a group of sixty men boarded the ships and dumped the tea boxes in the water.

A. The Boston Tea Party sought to reduce taxes.

Colonists in disguise boarded ships in Boston Harbor and dumped a shipment of tea in the water.

D. The Boston Tea Party members were being taxed without representation.

Google the phrase "Tea Party" these days, and the first dozen-or-so hits are all about the contemporary, multi-tentacled political force.

At the top of the screen, there's the obligatory Wikipedia entry: "The Tea Party movement is a populist political movement in the United States that emerged in 2009 through a series of locally and nationally coordinated protests."

Then there's the Tea Party site that lists local organizations the site featuring its founder, Dale Robertson the American Family Association's Tea Party Day site the Tea Party Express site that solicits funds for Tea Party candidates and on and on.

Google "American Tea Party" and you get pretty much the same roster of websites.

Somewhat lost in all of the lists is the original American Tea Party, the 1773 revolt by Boston colonists against British rule, a rebellion that turned out to be a seminal moment in the American Revolution.

What Lead to the American Revolution

The American Revolution is a major part of our history today. Without the revolution, we would not be where we are today. The reason our country is what it is today is because of the American Revolution. America is its own country because of the revolution. The first settlers came over here in the name of England, but years after, we were fighting against them to become a separate nation. But it all had to start somewhere. What lead up to the war? How did we get from settling here for England to fighting a war against them for our freedom? What lead up to the start of the Revolution in 1775?

There were many reasons that led up to the beginning of the war, but one of the main reasons was taxation without representation. The British government passed so many laws against the colonies, like the Sugar Act. The Sugar Act was put into place in April of 1764, and put a tax on imports coming into the colonies, they even restricted what all could be imported. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That no rum or spirits for the produce or manufacture of any of the colonies or plantations in America, not in the possession or under the dominion of his Majesty, his heirs or successors, shall be imported or brought into any of the colonies or plantations in America. They put taxes on things such as sugar, and molasses , which at the time were staples in the American colonies. This made the colonist incredibly angry, and upset with the king. Anyone who tried to deliver rum, sugar, or any imports without a signed affidavit from the king would be arrested, and actually getting the signed affidavit took months. The colonists were in an uproar, and it’s understandable. Could you imagine the havoc it would create if our government put a tax on something like Internet or Wifi? With the Sugar Act, that us exactly what they were doing with the imports to the colonies. In the eyes of the British parliament it was an attempt to curb the illegal smuggling of sugar into the colonies, but to the American colonists it was a way to intrude on their successful businesses. Up until the Stamp Act was put in place, the colonies were exempted from the revenue taxation the British businesses had to undergo.

The next Act to be put in place was the Currency Act. Due to the Sugar Act, the American colonies were running short on currency to conduct trade with,and the colonies started printing their own currency to trade with. This unnerved the British merchant-creditors so the Parliament enacted the Currency Act. With this Act the British government assumed control of the colonial currency system and abolished all colonial made currency. no act, order, resolution, or vote of assembly, in any of his Majesty’s colonies or plantations in America, shall be made, for creating or issuing any paper bills, or bills of credit of any kind or denomination whatsoever, declaring such paper bills, or bills of credit, to be legal tender in payment of any bargains, contracts, debts, dues, or demands whatsoever and every clause or provision which shall hereafter be inserted in any act, order, resolution, or vote of assembly, contrary to this act, shall be null and void. this act also fined any government official who tried to allow the newly banned currency to be printed. This caused an even bigger deficit in the trade between British tradesmen and the American businesses because the colonies were still running out of currency. The colonists were livid. It seemed like the British government was blocking their business at every turn, but to the British government they were protecting the tradesmen from a failing system.

After this, it was about a year before parliament enacted the Stamp Act. The Stamp Act put a tax on paper, and paper goods. They taxed ever piece of paper bought, and depending on what you wanted to use it for it ranged from two pence to ten shillings. Can you even imagine what it would be like to have to pay for each piece of paper individually, and depending on what you wanted it for, have to pay up to 12 dollars for a single sheet? This taxation against the colonies came from seemingly nowhere, and was unfair. And it is hereby further enacted, That if any person or persons shall be sued or prosecuted, either in Great Britain or America, for anything done in pursuance of this act, such person and persons shall and may plead the general issue, and give this act and the special manner in evidence and if it shall appear so to have been done, the jury shall find for the defendant or defendants: and if the plaintiff or plaintiffs shall become non-suited, or discontinue his or their action. Anyone who did not follow this law would appear in a court, and would be fined. Anyone who wanted to appeal to the law, had to appear in court, and if they lost the appeal, they would have to pay the full costs of the law suit, and it was very rare that anyone actually won their appeal

Years later in 1773 came what is probably the most memorable acts that sparked the revolution, The Tea Act. This act put a tax on tea, which was a popular drink at the time. The colonists believed that having to pay the taxes on the tea violated their right as British citizens. upon application made to them by the said united company of merchants of England trading to the East Indies for that purpose, to grant a licence or licences to the said united company, to take out of their warehouses, without the same having been put up to sale, and to export to any of the British plantations in America, or to any parts beyond the seas, such quantity or quantities of tea as the said commissioners of his Majesty’s treasury, or any three or more of them, or the high treasurer for the time being, shall think proper and expedient, without incurring any penalty or forfeiture for so doing Actually being able to get the license, was time consuming and rare, so very few businesses actually had one. What makes this act one of the most memorable is the fact that it was the cause of The Boston Tea Party. On December 16. 1773, American patriots, disguised as Native Americans, threw 342 chests of tea into the Boston Harbor in protest of The Tea Act among other things. These chests belonged to the East India Trading company, who had a monopoly on all tea imported to the colonies, which is one of the other things the colonists were protesting.

Now taxation was not the only thing that cause the spark of revolution among the colonists. The British government also passes other acts around this time that helped fuel the flames. Such as the Quartering Act of 1765. several regulations are made and enacted for the better government of the army, and their observing strict discipline, and for providing quarters for the army, and carriages on marches and other necessary occasions, and inflicting penalties on offenders against the same act, and for many other good purposes therein mentioned but the same may not be sufficient for the forces that may be employed in his Majesty’s dominions in America. Because of their suspicions that the American colonists were going to revolt, they created this act that made the colonists house and feed British troops, and if they refused they would be fined, or arrested. Many colonists argued that this act was illegal as it violated the Bill of Rights, written in 1689, which stated that the keeping of a standing army without the consent of Parliament was forbidden.

Then in 1774 Parliament created The Boston Port Act, as a punishment for The Boston Tea Party. And whereas, in the present condition of the said town and harbor, the commerce of his Majesty’s subjects cannot be safely carrie on there, nor the customs payable to his Majesty duly collected and it is therefore expedient that the officers of his Majesty’s customs should be forthwith removed from the said town That from and after the first day of June, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-four, it shall not be lawful for any person or persons whatsoever to lade put, or cause or procure to be laden or put, off or from any quay, wharf, or other place, within the said town of Boston, or in or upon any part of the shore of the bay, commonly called The Harbour of Boston into any ship, vessel, lighter, boat, or bottom, any goods, wares, or merchandise whatsoever, to be transported or carried into any other country, province, or place whatsoever, or into any other part of the said province of the Massachusetts Bay, in New England. This act essentially closed down Boston Harbor, in the hopes that the rest of the colonies would abandon Boston, leading Boston to acquiesce to Parliaments wishes and pay for the damages that occurred during the Boston Tea Party. This was the final straw for the colonists, and the American Revolution broke out a year later with the battles of Lexington And Concord.

The road up to the American Revolution was not a fast one, it took years and years, along with many unfair taxations and acts signed by Parliament and the British government before the colonists were ready to fight back. They faced harsh taxations on food, and paper, as well as the forced quartering of British troops, but without these things, America would not be the country it is today. There struggles and their adversities were not for nothing. As a country we are thankful for what they did for us, and we continue to recognize their fight for the country we live in today. The American Revolution is a huge part of the history of our country, and it will always remain that way .

The Boston Tea Party was the most famous among all tea parties.

The Tea Party in Boston was not the only “tea party” in history. Many protests like the Montana Tea Party in 1976 and the T.E.A. Party or Taxpayers’ Economic Association Party in 1953 also occurred. However, the 1773 Boston Tea Party remains the most known to this day.

Photo in Public Domain in the US

Watch the video: What Was the Tea Act of 1773? History