Sunday, December 7, 2014

Learning About the Boston Tea Party

We enjoy visiting places where history happened and it is even better when we get to participate in the event. We visited the Boston Tea Party Museum and helped throw tea into Boston Harbor.   We knew the basic facts of the Tea Party.  On the night of December 16, 1773, colonists dressed as Indians boarded three ships in Boston Harbor and threw crates of tea overboard to protest the Tea Tax. Many of the people belonged to a group called the Sons of Liberty. It was a secret group because they did many things to show they were angry at the British government that controlled the colonies.

At the Boston Tea Party Museum, the staff dressed like people in the 1700s called us to a meeting by ringing a bell.  We all got a feather to stick in our hair so we would look like the Sons of Liberty who were dressed as natives because their actions were illegal and they didn’t want to be arrested. Some were the most famous people in Boston.
The room looked like Old South Meeting House where the protestors met before dumping the tea. We were given name cards of actual participants in the Boston Tea Party. One of us was Francis Akeley who died in 1775 so he never lived to enjoy freedom under a new American government and one of us was Thomas Porter who did live long enough to see America get its independence. The original meeting was loud with many people shouting out why they hated the British government. 

We didn’t realize that the Tea Act actually reduced the tax on tea and would have made the tea half the price paid by those in Britain. The protest was not about the tax but the fact that the colonists had no say in the governing the colonies.  The cry was “no taxation without representation.” The British reaction to the Tea Party caused more protests.  As punishment the British parliament passed what the colonists called the “Intolerable Act” which closed the port of Boston until damages were paid. Many people in Boston made money by working in and around the port.  Also, more hated British troops were sent to Boston which made the colonists more upset. Tea protests took place in other colonies but the one in Boston wasn’t called “The Boston Tea Party” until 50 years later. 

After the protest meeting, we went outside and boarded the ship
where we took turns dumping the tea crates in the harbor.  It was fun tossing tea into the harbor and exploring the ship. The sleeping area for the ship’s crew was very small and crowded. They had rats that ran free on the ship – not real ones now but during the 1700s there were real ones. No one died during the 1773 Tea Party but one participant was knocked unconscious by a crate and thought to be dead only to awake hours later. 

Our tour continued inside where the only known surviving tea chest is on display.  In the Minute Man Theater we saw an excellent movie called “Let it Begin Here” where the sounds of the horses galloping and musket firing made the events of the American Revolution come to life. 

After our Tea Party experience, we went to Old South Meeting House where the actual meeting took place on that fateful day and we learned more about the revolutionary actions in Boston. Boston is a great place to learn about American history.