Why Was The Boston Tea Party Significant?

"The Destruction of Tea at Boston Harbor", lithograph depicting the 1773 Boston Tea Party , by Nathaniel Currier

“The Destruction of Tea at Boston Harbor” lithograph, depicting the 1773 Boston Tea Party, by Nathaniel Currier

For many people, the Boston Tea Party was a waste of a lot of good tea. For others it was one of the most significant moments in American history. So why was a masked raid on tea-carrying boats such a big deal? The Boston Tea Party has a history that you must first understand if you are to appreciate the significance of this event to our country.

During the late 1760’s and early 1770’s the government of Great Britain wanted to make sure that the thirteen colonies in American remained submissive and loyal to its rule. In order to achieve this type of power, the British Parliament instigated a series of taxes that the inhabitants of the colonies were required to pay. Obviously, colonists were not anxious to pad the pockets and pay off the debts of the British, and so they opposed these taxes. Opposition grew, and the threat of losing control of the colonies was a real concern for the British.

This is where tea comes into play. The colonists loved tea. Tea was a symbol of status and comfort. Yet it was also something that most people could afford and used on a regular basis. Tea from British suppliers was expensive. Most of the colonists’ bought smuggled tea in order to avoid the British taxes on this product. The British did not like to be undermined and passed the Tea Act. The Tea Act gave the East India Company a monopoly on the sale of tea, which made it cost about half of what the colonists were spending for their contraband tea. The British thought that this would be a good way of forcing the colonists to pay the tea tax and still pay less money overall for the tea.

Monetarily, this British Parliament plan made sense. Surely the colonists would rather spend less for their tea and buy it from British sources. But this was an issue that went much deeper than the cost of tea. The colonists could see what the British Parliament was trying to do and it just made them angrier. The Tea Act was seen by many as a challenge of loyalties. What was more important, the cost of a little tea or the principle of opposing unfair British rule? There were advocates for both sides, but it was the opponents of the British that took part in the famous tea party.

The colonists who advocated independence from the British and their unfair taxes wanted to send a message to Parliament that they could not ignore. So just after three boats carrying shipments of tea docked on Boston’s harbor, about 200 men in Indian costume boarded the ships and dumped all of the tea overboard into the harbor.


The Boston Tea Party was a symbolic act that showed the British how far American colonists were willing to go to speak out for their freedom. The colonists were willing to give up whatever they had to defend their right for independence. Obviously this act made the British Parliament furious and over the next two years tension would continue to rise until the Revolutionary war broke out.

Yet Americans were ready for war. In the American Revolution there were many who were willing to give their lives for the cause of American freedom. In 1776 the Second Continental Congress signed and distributed the Declaration of Independence. It was a document that would change the face of America forever.

The Boston Tea Party was a catalyst for one of the most important events that ever took place in the history of the founding of America. The Boston Tea Party was one of the more powerful and significant messages sent to Great Britain to let them know that the colonies of America were going to do what it took to be independent from them.

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