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The Boston Tea-party

from Good Stories For Great Holidays - INDEPENDENCE DAY





BY JOHN ANDREWS (ADAPTED) [5]




On November 29, 1773, there arrived in Boston Harbor a ship carrying an
hundred and odd chests of the detested tea. The people in the country
roundabout, as well as the town's folk, were unanimous against allowing
the landing of it; but the agents in charge of the consignment persisted
in their refusal to take the tea back to London. The town bells were
rung, for a general muster of the citizens. Handbills were stuck up
calling on "Friends! Citizens! Countrymen!"

Mr. Rotch, the owner of the ship, found himself exposed not only to the
loss of his ship, but to the loss of the money-value of the tea itself,
if he should attempt to send her back without clearance papers from the
custom-house; for the admiral kept a vessel in readiness to seize
any ship which might leave without those papers. Therefore, Mr. Rotch
declared that his ship should not carry back the tea without either
the proper clearance or the promise of full indemnity for any losses he
might incur.

Matters continued thus for some days, when a general muster was called
of the people of Boston and of all the neighboring towns. They met, to
the number of five or six thousand, at ten o'clock in the morning, in
the Old South Meeting-House; where they passed a unanimous vote THAT THE
TEA SHOULD GO OUT OF THE HARBOR THAT AFTERNOON!

A committee, with Mr. Rotch, was sent to the custom-house to demand a
clearance. This the collector said he could not give without the duties
first being paid. Mr. Rotch was then sent to ask for a pass from
the governor, who returned answer that "consistent with the rules of
government and his duty to the king he could not grant one without they
produced a previous clearance from the office."

By the time Mr. Rotch returned to the Old South Meeting-House with
this message, the candles were lighted and the house still crowded with
people. When the governor's message was read a prodigious shout was
raised, and soon afterward the moderator declared the meeting dissolved.
This caused another general shout, outdoors and in, and what with
the noise of breaking up the meeting, one might have thought that the
inhabitants of the infernal regions had been let loose.

That night there mustered upon Fort Hill about two hundred strange
figures, SAID TO BE INDIANS FROM NARRAGANSETT. They were clothed in
blankets, with heads muffled, and had copper-colored countenances. Each
was armed with a hatchet or axe, and a pair of pistols. They spoke a
strange, unintelligible jargon.

They proceeded two by two to Griffin's Wharf, where three tea-ships lay,
each with one hundred and fourteen chests of the ill-fated article on
board. And before nine o'clock in the evening every chest was knocked
into pieces and flung over the sides.

Not the least insult was offered to any one, save one Captain Conner,
who had ripped up the linings of his coat and waistcoat, and, watching
his opportunity, had filled them with tea. But, being detected, he was
handled pretty roughly. They not only stripped him of his clothes, but
gave him a coat of mud, with a severe bruising into the bargain. Nothing
but their desire not to make a disturbance prevented his being tarred
and feathered.

The tea being thrown overboard, all the Indians disappeared in a most
marvelous fashion.

The next day, if a stranger had walked through the streets of Boston,
and had observed the calm composure of the people, he would hardly have
thought that ten thousand pounds sterling of East India Company's tea
had been destroyed the night before.





Next: A Gunpowder Story

Previous: A Brave Girl



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