We have now sunk to a depth at which restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men. — George Orwell

Story of the Thirteen Colonies - Helene Guerber

The Boston Tea Party

In their joy the colonists did not at first notice that Parliament, in repealing the Stamp Act; still claimed the right to tax the colonies "in all cases whatsoever." But the very next year Parliament passed what are known in history as the "Townshend Acts," from the man who proposed them. These laws, besides forcing the colonists to feed the king's troops and keep the trade law, placed a tax on glass, paint, tea, and a few other things.

The money raised by these taxes was to be used partly for paying the salaries of governors, judges, customhouse and other colonial officers. Hitherto, the colonies had paid the salaries of governors and judges themselves, and they said that, while it might be all right to let a good king be paymaster, a bad king might make them very uncomfortable by sending out governors like Andros and Berkeley, who, being paid by him, would care only to please him.

Urged on by the Massachusetts people, all the colonies wrote to Great Britain that they would not buy any British goods until the taxes were removed. The king, offended by the letters sent him, ordered the governors to dissolve the colonial assemblies again and again; but he could not prevent the Americans from talking and thinking as they pleased. When his troops began to come, men, women, and children scowled at them, openly calling them "lobsters" and "bloody-backs" because they wore red coats.

As the Massachusetts people talked loudest, and urged the other colonies to resist, King George sent General Gage to Boston with two regiments. They came into the city on Sunday morning, with flags flying and drums beating, a thing which greatly shocked the good Puritans.

The presence of British soldiers in America greatly annoyed the people. They daily grew more and more angry about it, and before long a small fight took place between soldiers and citizens, at Golden Hill, in the city of New York. Two months later, in the midst of the excitement caused by a false alarm of fire in Boston, a British soldier, annoyed by the taunts and snowballs of a mob, shot a man. This became the signal for more firing, which killed five men and wounded a few others (1770).

The Boston Massacre

The excitement caused in the city by the "Boston Massacre," or the "Bloody Massacre," as it is known in history, proved very great. Although the principal men in Boston knew the soldiers had not been greatly to blame for what had happened, they saw that there would be more trouble unless the troops left the town. Samuel Adams, therefore, explained this to the governor, who asked him if the people would be satisfied if he sent one regiment away. Adams answered that he would find out, but, going to the Old South Meetinghouse, where the patriots were assembled, he passed up the aisle, whispering to his friends right and left: "Both regiments or none."

When Adams reached the platform, and told the people what the governor had said, his friends loudly cried: "Both regiments or none!" The rest of the people shouted the same thing. So the governor, much against his will, was forced to place the soldiers on an island in the bay. But after that, when mentioning those troops, King George spitefully called them "Sam Adams's regiments."

The removal of the soldiers quieted the Boston people a little; still, they often met in Faneuil Hall, where such stirring patriotic speeches were made that the building is often called the "Cradle of Liberty."

Faneuil Hall

The people had said they would not buy anything from Great Britain until the taxes were removed; so, when tea ships came over, their cargoes were either sent back, stored in damp cellars, or destroyed. The British merchants complained about this, and the king himself, who was interested in the tea company, soon found he was losing money, too. He therefore proposed that the price of tea should be reduced, so that even after the tax of three-pence a pound was paid, tea would be cheaper than ever before. But this made no difference to the colonists. The question with them was not cheap tea, but untaxed tea.

To prevent any one from buying any of this tea, all the ports were carefully watched: but finally three ships entered Boston harbor with strict orders to land their cargoes. As the governor would not send the ships back, and insisted that the king's orders should be carried out, Samuel Adams finally said, in a large assembly: "This meeting can do nothing more to save the country."

The Boston Tea Party

This was evidently a secret signal, for a voice immediately asked in an innocent way: "Will tea mix with sea water?" In reply some one shouted: "Boston harbor for a teapot to-night! Hurrah for Griffin's wharf!" The crowd now poured out of the Old South, and on reaching the street saw a band of men, disguised as Indians, rushing toward the pier. These make-believe Indians took possession of the dock, boarded the three ships, broke open the tea chests with their tomahawks, and poured their contents into the harbor, which thus became a monster teapot at Boston's famous Tea Party.

The Indians were careful, however, not to touch anything else, and when their work was done, they quickly vanished. Still, they were so honest that a padlock, broken by mistake, was secretly replaced by a new one on the next day. It is said that the tide the next morning left heaps of damp tea leaves on the beach. Some was put in bottles and kept, in memory of Boston's Tea Party; but the rest of it was either thrown back into the water or burned, so that no one should be tempted to touch it.


Front Matter

Our Country Long Ago
The Barbarous Indians
The Mounds
Where the Northmen Went
The Northmen in America
Queer Ideas
Prince Henry the Navigator
Youth of Columbus
Columbus and the Queen
"Land! Land!"
Columbus and the Savages
Home Again
Columbus Ill-treated
Death of Columbus
How America Got its Name
The Fountain of Youth
"The Father of Waters"
The French in Canada
French and Spanish Quarrels
The Sky City
Around the World
Nothing but Smoke
Smith's Adventures
The Jamestown Men
Smith Wounded
Pocahontas Visits England
Hudson and the Indians
The Mayflower
Plymouth Rock
The First Thanksgiving
Snake Skin and Bullets
The Beginning of Boston
Stories of Two Ministers
Williams and the Indians
The Quakers
The King-Killers
King Phillip's War
The Beginning of New York
Penn and the Indians
The Catholics in Maryland
The Old Dominion
Bacon's Rebellion
A Journey Inland
The Carolina Pirates
Charter Oak
Salem Witches
Down the Mississippi
La Salle's Adventures
Indians on the Warpath
Two Wars with the French
Washington's Boyhood
Washington's Journey
Washington's First Battle
Stories of Franklin
Braddock's Defeat
Wolfe at Quebec
England and her Colonies
The Stamp Tax
The Anger of the Colonies
The Boston Tea Party
The Minutemen
The Battle of Lexington
Bunker Hill
The Boston Boys
The British leave Boston
Declaration of Independence
A Lady's Way of Helping
Christmas Eve
The Fight at Bennington
Burgoyne's Surrender
Winter at Valley Forge
The Quaker Woman
Putnam's Adventures
Indian Cruelty
Boone in Kentucky
Famous Sea Fights
The "Swamp Fox"
The Poor Soldiers
The Spy
A Traitor's Death
Two Unselfish Women
Surrender of Cornwallis
British Flag hauled down
Washington's Farewell