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by James Still, ©2014

On December 16, 1773, a group of colonists dressed as Indians threw a shipment of tea from the East India Company into Boston Harbor to protest the taxes imposed by the Tea Act passed by the British Parliament earlier that year. The event presaged the American Revolution.

(May 1, 2014) —[Editor’s Note:  The following is a continuation of historical research by the author into the events leading up to the Boston Tea Party of 1773 and specifically, the role of Founding Father Samuel Adams in those events.]

A month following the Boston Tea Party, Samuel Adams provided an analysis of the event: “The sending the East India Companies Tea into America appears evidently to have been with Design of the British Administration, and to complete the favorite plan of establishing a Revenue in America.  The People of Boston and the other adjacent Towns endeavored to have the Tea sent back to the place from whence it came & then to prevent the Design from taking Effect.  Had this been done in Boston, as it was done in New York & Philadelphia, the Design of the Ministry would have been as effectually prevented here as in those Colonies and the property would have been saved. Governor Hutchinson & the other Crown officers having the Command of the Castle by which the Ships must have passed, & other powers in their Hands, made use of these Powers to defeat the Intentions of the people & succeeded; in short the Governor who for Art & Cunning as well as an inveterate hatred of the people… both encouraged & provoked the people to destroy the Tea.  By refusing to grant a Passport he held up to them the alternative of destroying the property of the East India Company or suffering that to be the sure means of unhinging the Security of property in general in America, and by delaying to call on the naval power to protect the Tea, he led them to determine their Choice of Difficulties. In this View of the Matter the Question is easily decided who ought in Justice to pay for the Tea if it ought to be paid for at all.

The Destruction of the Tea is the pretence for the unprecedented Severity shown to the Town of Boston but the real Cause is the opposition to Tyranny for which the people of that Town have always made themselves remarkable & for which I think this Country is much obliged to them. They are suffering the Vengeance of Administration in the Common Cause of America.” Samuel Adams, Letter to Arthur Lee, January 25, 1774

“… every step was taken, that was practicable for returning the Teas.”Samuel Adams, The Committee of Correspondence of Boston to Other Committees of Correspondence, December 17, 1773


“Our Enemies must acknowledge that these people have acted upon pure & upright Principle.”  Samuel Adams, The Committee of Correspondence of Boston to the Committee of Plymouth, December 17, 1773

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  1. Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.

    John F. Kennedy, in a speech at the White House, 13 March 1962,

    “A revolution is coming — a revolution which will be peaceful if we are wise enough; compassionate if we care enough; successful if we are fortunate enough — But a revolution which is coming whether we will it or not. We can affect its character; we cannot alter its inevitability.”

    –Robert Kennedy Speech in the United States Senate (9 May 1966)