The Boston Tea Party
T HIS Boston tea-party was a very different sort of a party from the quiet little tea-parties to which your mammas like to go. There were no invitations sent out for this tea-party, and the people who attended it behaved in a very queer way, considering they were at a tea-party.
This was the way it came about. The English had put a tax, you will remember, upon nearly everything, tea included.
Now, when they found that the colonists were so furious about it, and seemed so determined to stand up for their rights, the English began to be afraid, and to think that perhaps they had gone a little too far.
So, wishing to soothe the angry colonists, they took off the tax on everything except the tea. "We will keep the tax on that," said the English, "just to let the colonists know that we have the power to tax them, and that they must obey; but we will not ask them to give us their money on the other things."
Foolish people, to suppose the colonists were going to be quieted in that way. It wasn't the money that they were made to pay that had angered them; they were willing to pay that; but it was the idea of their being taxed without representation!
"Does England suppose it is the few paltry dollars that we care for?" said they. "No; we will show her that, while we would be willing to pay thousands of dollars if we were treated fairly, we will not pay one cent when she treats us like slaves!"
Not many days had passed before word came that a great vessel was nearing the harbor, loaded with tea.
A lively meeting was held in Faneuil Hall, and afterwards in the Old South Church; and the people all declared that the tea should never be allowed to be brought ashore.
At evening the vessel was seen slowly nearing the wharf. Everything was quiet, and you would never have imagined what was going to happen.
Slowly the ship comes in, nearer and nearer the little wharf. Now, with a heavy swash of water and a boom, she touches; out jump her sailors to fasten her ropes.
But hark! what noise is that? It is the Indian war-whoop. And see! down rush the Indians themselves, yelling and brandishing their tomahawks. In an instant they have boarded the vessel. Down into the hold they go, yelling and whooping at every step.
The terrified sailors stand back aghast. Out they come again, lugging with them their heavy chests of tea.
Still they yell and whoop; and over go the chests into the dark water below.
And now, when every chest is gone, suddenly the Indians grow very quiet; they come off from the deck; and, orderly, take their stand upon the wharf; then do we see that they were not Indians at all. They were only men of Boston disguised.
This then was the Boston tea-party, which took place in Boston Harbor on the evening of December 16, 1773.
Three hundred and forty-two chests were thrown overboard.
On their way home the party passed the house at which Admiral Montague was spending the evening. The officer raised the window and cried out, "Well, boys, you've had a fine night for your Indian caper. But, mind, you've got to pay the fiddler yet." "Oh, never mind," replied one of the leaders, "never mind, squire! Just come out here, if you please, and we'll settle the bill in two minutes." The admiral thought it best to let the bill stand, and quickly shut the window.
The Americans had taken one great step towards liberty, and the English had been taught a lesson of American grit. It would have been well for England had she been wise enough to heed it.