|The site of the Boston Tea Party Museum,|
in Boston Harbor, after a devastating fire in 2007.
Photographed during the 2009 Sail Boston Tall Ship Event
Two hundred thirty seven years ago today, a group of men disguised as Indians stole onboard three ships moored in Boston harbor and dumped all the tea over the side. It was an act of defiance against the British Government for passing the Tea Act, and against the East India Company for having a monopoly in the tea trade. They felt the Tea Act represented the worst side of the principal of taxation without representation. England responded by passing the even worse "Coercive Acts" in 1774, and among its provisions it closed commerce in Boston Harbor until the East India Company had been repaid for the lost tea. As we all know, there were more destructive events, mean spirited rhetoric and violence that escalated and ended up with the American Revolutionary War's first events in Massachusetts in 1775.
There is a probable list of the participants at the website for the Boston Tea Party Historic Site at http://www.bostonteapartyship.com/participants.asp However, since the act of dumping tea was considered vandalism, many of the participants remained (and still remain) secret. No one was proud to have been considered in a criminal act that caused so much political turmoil, and it was also considered an act of treason. It was not even named "The Boston Tea Party" until about sixty years later. I can see many names from my family tree: Frothingham, Gardner, Coolidge, Gore and Lincoln, but I don't know if there is a family connection. I probably never will know, either!
J. L. Bell has a slightly different list on his blog "Boston 1775" at the post http://boston1775.blogspot.com/2006/12/who-threw-tea-into-boston-harbor.html He also had a post the following day, analyzing the list and the men on it at this link http://boston1775.blogspot.com/2006/12/who-identified-men-at-boston-tea-party.html
There was a lineage society, named the "Improved Order of Redmen", formed by descendants of the men who participated in this historic event. You can visit their website at http://www.redmen.org/ According to their home page "The Improved Order of Red Men traces its origin to certain secret patriotic societies founded before the American Revolution. They were established to promote Liberty and to defy the tyranny of the English Crown. Among the early groups were: The Sons of Liberty, the Sons of St. Tammany and later the Society of Red Men." It appears that now anyone can join this organization, not just descendants.
Since the reproduction of the brig Beaver and the Boston Tea Party Museum on the harbor are undergoing renovations the annual tossing of a few chests of "tea" into the water won't take place this year. It is scheduled to reopen during the summer of 2011.
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Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo