Though out history many events are interpreted different ways. One of these events having multiple points of view is the beloved part of American history, the Boston Tea Party. Ever since we started school the Boston tea party has been viewed as a revolt by the freedom loving patriots, demonstrating against the oppressive British government by mobbing a ship and destroying numerous chests of tea and throwing the contents over board into the Boston harbor. After further research, it is found that there is more than one view on the matter, depending on where you stood. The more patriotic view point differed greatly from the view that the act was wholly self serving.
One of the more patriotic views of the Boston tea party was the basic mob over throwing the tyrannical British government view. It is said that when the Townshend Acts were ignorantly passed by Charles Townshend, totally ignoring the fate of the Stamp Act , they were immediately repealed, except the duty on tea. Due to the bountiful harvests in India, a large supply of tea was brought to the British East India Company. With this new surplus of tea and new parliamental backing, the company set out to undercut American tea merchants and take hold of the American tea market for them selves . But there was resistance in the colonies, Sam Adams started warning the colonists of the East India Company’s plan to under cut the American merchants. He claimed the British were trying to bribe the Americans into following the crown once again by buying this much cheaper British tea. Sam made posters and flyers stating that “Tea stood for tyranny.” In December, 1773 when the first of the ships carrying the British tea arrived in the states, Sam Adams organized a mob disguised as Mohawk Indians to storm the ships and destroy the tea aboard by tossing it into the Boston harbor. John Adams himself had this to say about the event, “three Cargoes of Bohea Tea were emptied into the sea...There is a Dignity, a Majesty, Sublimity in this last Effort of the patriots... so bold, so daring...an Epocha in History.” This view is one of a patriot looking at the British as tyrannical and the colonists as an oppressed people rising up against the crown. This view is reflected by our history books.
Another view of the tea party was one a little less patriotic and more economic minded than the previous. It is said that the British East India Company had over 17 million pounds of poor grade tea sitting around in London warehouses. Parliament then granted a legal monopoly to the nearly bankrupt East India Company to save their business. Parliament allowed the company to export its goods to their own agents in America with out paying English tax. The company could now under cut the American tea merchants, even those using smugglers. The English supposed that because the tea was cheaper, they would not mind the slight tax they would have to pay. The colonist did mind. They thought that buying this tea and paying this tax would prove that the British still had control over them and they were giving in to government imposed monopolies. Samuel Adams and John Hancock, one of the richest men in America who was to be hurt the most by the East India Company’s new fortune, organized a group of 150 men who disguised them selves as Mohawk Indians and raided the incoming ships, dumping the cheaper tea into the harbor. All this was done to protect the American businesses interests, not to over throw the government.
There is yet another view of what happened that night of December 16, 1773, this view is much less patriotic and seen from a total economic view point. This is never told to grade school students or taught at most schools at all. It is a view the British find more of a liking to. It is said that Samuel Adams was an “unemployed radical politician,” who was very popular in Boston. It was he who turned the people of Boston against the British. The British government was paying the customs officials in America 8000 pounds a year to collect the trade duties, but was receiving only 2000 pounds in duties annually. To compensate for the missing revenue, the British passed the Stamp Act. Samuel Adams used his popularity to gain support to oppose the new taxes. His efforts were heard by parliament and the Stamp Act was repealed. With the Stamp Act repealed, Sam Adams gained incredible respect from the people of Boston. When the Townshend acts went into effect he pointed out that passing such taxes on things that could be made in the colonies, such as paint, glass, paper, and lead, undermined the Navigation Acts. So to avoid financial loss and colonial tension, Britain repealed all parts of the Townshend Acts except those taxes on tea, the one thing that could not be made in the colonies. Sam could not rally enough support to overthrow the tax. Business men turned to smuggling in the tea and made lots of money by under cutting the taxed tea’s price. It was said that 3/4 of all tea in America was smuggled in. When the parliament gave the East India Company special rights to sell their tea with out paying British taxes, thus giving them a legal monopoly, the smugglers thought it unfair that their economic futures be determined by a government thousands of miles away. The smugglers came up with their own propaganda to try and rally support from the colonists. They made signs that said “taxation without representation is tyranny!” which was total nonsense because the colonist were not even represented at home. When the tea arrived in Boston, the merchants tried for weeks to pursued the governor to send the tea back. He refused and on the last day before the tea would be sent back and the taxes paid anyway, Sam Adams and John Hancock organized a surgical strike of 30-40 men, each with specific instructions, to destroy tea and nothing else. They disposed of the tea quietly and efficiently while being watched by the whole town, including the Royal Navy. This view shows how the party was highly organized and well planned out. It was planned to the last detail to destroy the British tea and save their own business interests.