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Tempest in a Teapot: The Boston Tea Party

Evening Program on Zoom

Tuesday, July 13, 2021 - 6:30 p.m. ET
Code: 1H0613
Tickets
$20 - Member
$25 - Non-Member
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"Destruction of tea at Boston Harbor"(detail), Currier & Ives lithograph, 1846 (Library of Congress)

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION

The Boston Tea Party was a response to the 1773 Tea Act, the latest of a series of parliamentary directives stretching back to the 1765 Stamp Act. But the Tea Act was never intended to be so provocative. It was devised to reduce tea smuggling within the British Empire and boost the sales of tea legally imported to the American colonies by the East India Company, a megacorporation with an all-too-cosy relationship to the British government.

But it backfired spectacularly, antagonizing Boston merchants and driving them to the newspapers to denounce the Tea Act as tyrannical and monopolistic and as a threat to free trade and colonial liberty. When three ships arrived in Boston harbor in December 1773 laden with East India Company tea, one hundred local men took their protests to the streets, boarding the ships, tossing the cargo overboard, and turning that harbor into one giant, swirling tea pot.

University of Maryland historian Richard Bell explores the 1773 Boston Tea Party from both local and global perspectives. He argues that the Tea Party marks the first major protest in America against corporate greed and the effects of globalization. It was also an unprecedented act of domestic terrorism that brought on dramatic consequences for relations between the Crown and colonies and set the stage for the American Revolution.

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This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.