It was indeed a tea party but there was no tea drinking involved. Instead, the tea party comprised of people picking up huge chests filled with tea and throwing them into the sea. Americans did this as a protest against the British government.
Interestingly, some of the protesters disguised themselves as Mohawk Indians to conceal their real identity. In all, they emptied 342 chests of tea into the sea, wasting about 90,000 pounds of tea. In today’s value, this amount to more than 1 million dollars in tea.
Americans didn’t like the British administration imposing taxes on them. In the years before 1773, they had successfully resisted many new taxes imposed by Britain, forcing the British Parliament to cancel those taxes.
In 1773, the British government introduced a new tax through a Tea Act. In London, the East India Company had warehouses full of tea. The British government issued an order that the Americans can import tea only through the East India Company.
Tea merchants and other businessmen in American colonies didn’t like it because this meant they would be losing their businesses. So they began a protest against the new Act.
Although American colonies were successful in stopping the East India Company from selling tea in any other colony but in Boston, the British-appointed governor refused to accept the pressure of the protesters. He ordered the ships carrying tea to arrive in the harbour and unload their cargo.
After protesting these orders, Americans had a meeting where thousands of people gathered. When even such a large gathering couldn’t persuade the governor to stop the tea import, some of the protesters went to the three ships carrying tea and threw all the tea into the sea.
Some historians believe that after the failed meeting, some of the protesters went on their own to the ships and destroyed the tea. Others think that this was a planned attack.
Regardless, once the protesters had destroyed the tea, most prominent American leaders and politicians supported it. They considered it legal and justified to destroy the tea because the British government kept imposing taxes on them without listening to their demands.
The British government was not happy, to say the least. Some people in London had been siding with the Americans and their demands but when the Boston Tea Party incident took place in 1773, nearly the entire British Parliament condemned it.
Soon afterwards, the Parliament passed laws called “Coercive Acts” which were meant to punish Boston for destroying the tea aboard the 3 ships and to bring the province more under British control. But this was a time when Americans were becoming politically active and nationally united against the British administration.
So the Coercive Acts, passed in 1774, only made matters worse and flamed the anti-British sentiment in American colonies.