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December2006
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You’re Supposed To Steep Tea In Boiling Water

On Dec. 16, 1773, a group of Bostonians dressed as Mohawk Indians boarded ships docked in Boston Harbor and dumped some 340 chests of tea into the water. This protest was a challenge against the Tea Act of 1773, which gave the nearly bankrupt British East India Company a monopoly on tea exports to America and forced the colonists to acknowledge British taxation, a thorn in their sides due to a monumental war debt from the French and Indian War. The Tea Act, and the facts that the colonists were required to provide room and board to the British standing army in America and had to pay taxes on everything from molasses to paper goods to glass, were all fuel to the fire of the impending American Revolution. Although Parliament repealed most of these taxes, the seeds of resentment, mistrust and anti-establishment had been planted in the colonists’ minds.

Destruction of tea at Boston Harbor. 1846 First blow for liberty. Engraving by A.H. Ritchie

The presentation “The American Revolution, 1763-1783” documents this tumultuous time in American history from British reform and colonial resistance to America’s war victory. Part of the American Memory Timeline, this resource is one of several that highlights the ups and downs of the nation’s development, from its early beginnings as a settlement to a post-war United States.

An American Time Capsule: Three Centuries of Broadsides and Other Printed
Ephemera
” examines American political and social history through broadsides, song sheets, notices, advertisements, proclamations, petitions, manifestos, ballots and tickets to special events. Search for the word “tea” to pull up an article from the Dec. 20, 1773, edition of the Boston Gazette recounting the details of the infamous “party.”

The Library exhibition “John Bull and Uncle Sam: Four Centuries of British-American Relations” brings together treasures from both the Library of Congress and The British Library. The section on the American Revolution includes a proof sheet of stamps to be used under the Stamp Act and the commission of George Washington as commander of the colonial army.


A. Destruction of tea at Boston Harbor. 1846. Prints and Photographs Division. Reproduction Information: Reproduction Nos.: LC-USZC4-523 (color film copy transparency), LC-USZ62-9 (b&w film copy neg.), LC-USZC2-2251 (color film copy slide), LC-USZCN4-164 (color film copy neg.); Call No.: PGA - Currier & Ives--Destruction of tea at Boston Harbor (A size) [P&P]

B. First blow for liberty. Engraving by A.H. Ritchie. Prints and Photographs Division. Reproduction Information: Reproduction No.: LC-USZ62-2727 (b&w film copy neg.); Rights status has not been evaluated.