Ashley McGregor English 1301 Sec 246

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Ashley McGregor

English 1301 Sec 246


2 November 2015

Tea, Tax, and Testimony

The Boston Tea Party was a huge piece of American history and took a part in where America stands today. The Boston Tea party took place in Boston on December 16, 1773. During this time, the Revolution was still persevering. The Americans were beginning to rebel against the British to gain independence. The British had laws that the Americans were tired of following, such as taxes.

Even though most Americans know about the Boston Tea Party, very few are familiar with George Robert Twelves Hewes’ significant role in this event. Hewes’ testimony enlightens and deepens the meaning of this significant event in American history, thus cementing that every person can help to make a change happen for generations to come.

George Hewes was a shoemaker in the city of Boston. He was born in Boston in 1742 and died in Richfield Springs, New York, in 1840. Hewes participated in several of the events during the American Revolution, but his involvement in the Boston Tea Party was the most recognized. Hewes was chosen by Leonard Pitt, a commander of the event, to be a boatswain. A boatswain is an officer in charge of the equipment of the ship and the crew members. Hewes, like many other Bostonians at the time, was a lower income colonist. The taxes that the British

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were putting on America, were taking a tremendous toll on everyone, especially the poor. When the tax on tea was issued, the Bostonians had enough. The destruction of the tea in Boston, also known as the Boston Tea Party, was known to be “the largest mass action of the decade” (Young 99). The meetings that were held to plan out what the colonists wanted to do went from just tens of colonists to thousands. The meetings reached capacity of five thousand easily. The event was the boldest and most dangerous in Boston up to that time. Everyone had to take a vow of secrecy, so that the event wouldn’t be ruined or compromised.

The colonists of Boston met up as scheduled. They discussed what the plan was to destruct the tea. They planned to wait until the British ships approached the bay. According to Hewes, the Bostonians “appeared in well-prepared Indian disguises” (43). When the ships arrived, the colonists boarded and began to ruin the tea. “First cutting and slitting the chests with our tomahawks, so as thoroughly to expose them to the effects of the water” (Hewes 45). The Bostonians used their knives to slice open the boxes of tea to ensure the tea was completely ruined. They then threw the boxes over board, contaminating the tea with the salty sea water. They continued to damage the tea for hours, until every single box of tea was ruined. The colonists then got off of the ships and left, as if nothing happened. The British guards of the ships did nothing while all of the tea was being destroyed.

The Boston Tea Party, being one of the many events of the Revolution, caused the Intolerable Acts. The Intolerable Acts were laws that restricted the freedom of the states. The new laws were meant to punish the Massachusetts colonists for their defiance in throwing a large tea shipment into Boston harbor. Boston Harbor was closed to trade until the owners of the tea were compensated. Only food and firewood were permitted into the port. Town meetings were

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banned, and the authority of the royal governor was increased. The laws that were passed, only sparked the fire of the Revolution even more.

The Shoemaker and the Tea Party was written by Alfred F. Young in 1999. Young recorded Hewes’ oral testimony and made a book out of it. The book showcased Hewes’ point of view. In textbooks, we get all of the facts, but we are never given the perspective of the people that were actually a part of the event. It is all facts and no real life point of view in it. This firsthand testimony brings life to the event that is not given by regular textbooks. The book gives readers insight to Hewes’ perspective and little details that readers would never know from a textbook. The original perception of the Boston Tea Party was that people that were from Boston were upset about taxes being raised, so they decided to rebel against the British laws. The Shoemaker and the Tea Party gives the reader a clearer picture of the event that took place. The readers are able to see the other side of the story and open up their minds to see exactly why the event took place.

The Boston Tea Party was a tremendous, dangerous, and bold act carried by the colonists of Boston. Of course, the event couldn’t go unpunished. The British passed the Intolerable Acts in 1774. The Intolerable Acts only upset the Bostonians even more, causing them to act on their anger. The new laws led to the turning point in the Revolution. As a result of these acts, the colonies organized the First Continental Congress to discuss a unified response. This Congress met during September and October 1774, and took three specific actions, related to the Intolerable Acts.

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Firstly, the Congress decided to lay out their complaints to the King and Parliament. They complained about all of the laws that the British passed against them, including the Intolerable Acts. The second action taken was a pact agreeing on the terms of their joint resistance to Britain, including non-importation of goods. Lastly, they threatened to call for a second Congress if these concerns were not resolved by the following spring. That is when congress decided they would pull away from Great Britain to function on their own. The delegates of the Second Continental Congress went on to draw up the famous Declaration of Independence. Once that was done, they wrote the provisions that would lead to the forming of the American Continental Army that would defend the colonies during their fight against Britain for freedom. Congress then voted to start printing money in an effort to finance the military, and the fight for independence began.

March 23, 1775, Patrick Henry gives a public speech against the British. It was this speech that the infamous “give me liberty, or give me death!” originated. In April, Massachusetts Governor Gage is ordered to enforce the Coercive Acts and suppress "open rebellion" among the colonists by all necessary force. General Gage orders seven hundred British soldiers to Concord to destroy the colonists' weapons depot. That night, Paul Revere and William Dawes are sent from Boston to warn colonists. Revere reaches Lexington about midnight and warns Sam Adams and John Hancock who were hiding out there.

At dawn on April 19, 1775, about seventy armed Massachusetts militiamen stand face to face on Lexington Green with the British advance guard. An unordered “shot heard around the world” begins the American Revolution. A barrage of British rifle fire followed by a charge with bayonets leaves eight Americans dead and ten wounded. The British head for the depot in

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Concord, destroying the colonists' weapons and supplies. At the North Bridge in Concord, a British platoon is attacked by militiamen, with fourteen casualties and two colonists were killed. British forces then begin a long retreat from Lexington back to Boston and were harassed and shot at all along the way by farmers and rebels and suffer over two hundred and fifty casualties. News of the events at Lexington and Concord spread quickly throughout the colonies.

After a number of battles were fought between the British and America, the Declaration of Independence was written by Thomas Jefferson. The Declaration of Independence was an official document that states that America was free of British rule. On July 4, 1776, the Declaration was passed. America was granted their independence and were left to fend for themselves.

In conclusion, the Boston Tea Party was a significant piece of American history. The event triggered a series of different rebellions and defensive acts from the British. Though there were events that happened before the Boston Tea Party that was included in the Revolution, the Boston Tea Party was the turning point of it all. The rebellion of the bold Bostonians led to the Independence of America. The Shoemaker and the Tea Party gave readers another view of the Boston Tea Party, so there was another way to look at the event other than just going off of what was heard and reported. The Boston Tea Party was pivotal to American history because the event caused the Intolerable Acts, which eventually led to the Declaration of Independence, which was a tremendous part of the Revolution. George Robert Twelves Hewes, just an average shoemaker in Boston who participated in extraordinary events in America history, was very influential and helpful. Hewes was a part of the Boston Tea Party, and he gave the world another view point of the event that took place on December 16, 1773.

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Works Cited

Archiving Early America Staff. “An Eyewitness Account of the Boston Tea Party.” Archiving

Early America. 2015. October 16, 2015.

Foner, Eric. “The American Revolution: The Tea Act.” Give Me Liberty!. 4th ed. W.W Norton

& Company. New York, 2012. 148. Print.

Historic Tours of America. “The Boston Tea Party: Destruction of the Tea.” Boston Tea Party

Ship. Historic Tours of America. 2015. October 16, 2015.

USHistory. “The Tea Act and Tea Parties.” U.S. History Online Textbook. Copywrited 2015.

October 17, 2015.

Young, Alfred F. “The Destruction of the Tea, 1773.” The Shoemaker and the Tea Party. Boston:

Beacon Press, 1999. 99-107. Print.

Young, Alfred F. “The Recovery of the Tea Party.” The Shoemaker and the Tea Party. Boston:

Beacon Press, 1999. 155-165. Print.

Young, Alfred F. “The Tea Party.” The Shoemaker and the Tea Party. Boston: Beacon Press,

1999. 42-45. Print.

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