There’s nothing more iconic in Boston’s history than the Boston Tea Party; and, events leading to this moment in history is politics at it’s best (or worst depending on how you look at it). In 1773, there are a number of things happening in Europe. Squished between the Seven Years’ War and the Napoleonic Wars, England had trade dominance over the world enabled through dealing with the British East India Company.
The company itself had never done well. Plagued with debt, it was in a constant state of trying to renew itself. In April 1773, the British parliament passed the Tea Act, which was an attempt to bring the British East India Company out of debt by granting it a monopoly on the North American tea trade. The government further applied a three pence duty on all tea imported to the colonies, which undercut colonial tea importers who paid the tax but received no benefit.
This didn’t sit well with Americans who were tired of being overtaxed for products. And, Bostonians never fully forgave the British for the fiasco that was the Boston Massacre.
Thus, on November 29, 1773, and December 16, 1773, Samuel Adams (a prominent lawyer, activist and one of the founding fathers of the US) held town meetings during which Americans were encouraged to protest payment the tea tax; and, after much rallying during the second meeting, protesters left the Old South Meeting House, boarded the three British vessels, and threw tea into the harbour. This action incited the British and is now considered the beginnings of the American Revolution.
These historical actions are reenacted at the Tea Party Museum, where you can role-play the events leading to and during the rebellion and destruction of tea. During this reenactment, la Niña and I played the roles of John and Sarah Fulton, a couple credited with the idea of dressing rebels up as Indigenous Americans to keep attendees from being recognized and later arrested.
The best part was throwing tea overboard and later seeing one of the only surviving tea crates that somehow managed to survive hidden in an attic until recently.
As an aside (and rather ironic historical twist), revolutionary Americans considered tea drinking to be unpatriotic following the Boston Tea Party. This is thought to be the reason why Americans prefer drinking coffee over tea.