The Boston Tea-party

: Good Stories For Great Holidays


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 bell

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


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.