Alfred Young describes the Boston Tea Party as the most revolutionary act of the decade. Indeed it was a very revolutionary act of the decade and it is considered to be one of the most revolutionary acts ever. To some people, however, the Boston Tea Party was not the most revolutionary act of the decade. This paper will analyze the Boston Tea Party and compare the opinions of Alfred Young and the author of this paper.
The Boston Tea Party is a popular name for what took place on December 16, 1773. On the evening of December 16, a group of Boston citizens, led by Samuel Adams and many of them disguised as Indians, boarded the ships that brought the tea from Britain and emptied the tea into Boston Harbor. Although most provisions of the Townshend Acts, taxing imports to the colonies, were repealed by Parliament, the duty on tea was retained to demonstrate the power of Parliament to tax the colonies. The citizens of Boston would not permit the unloading of three British ships that arrived in Boston Harbor loaded with tea. The royal governor of Massachusetts, Thomas Hutchinson, however, would not let the tea ships return to England until the taxes had been paid. When the government of Boston refused to pay for the tea, the British closed the port.
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British parliament had passed the Boston Port Act in March 1774, in order to punish Boston for the dumping of the tea in Boston Harbor. The Boston Port Act is one of many of the Intolerable Acts. Provisions of the bill included the closing of Boston Harbor to all other business until the tax was paid and stripping the power of the government of the Massachusetts Bay Colony from Boston to Salem and replacing the leader with a crown appointed governor. British soldiers occupied Boston to enforce the new laws, and the harbor was blockaded. The surrounding New England towns also suffered from this because they heavily relied on Bostons port for their goods and supplies. Towns in New England, however, frustrated the British effort to force submission by sending grain and other foods to Boston.
Alfred Young thinks the Boston Tea Party as "the most revolutionary act of the decade" because it was a major turning point for the Revolution. I completely agree with this because of the following beliefs held by both Young and myself that he describes all throughout the book. It was the turning point that helped get the Revolution off to the strong start that it had. Of course what fueled the events of the Boston Tea Party were the many other injustices imposed upon the citizens of Boston such as the Stamp Act, the trade laws, and the Boston Massacre. The combination of all of these events, each coming one right after the other over a short period of time, angered the Bostonians into planning and executing the Boston Tea Party.
Hewes was one of many ordinary people living in Boston. He becomes disgruntled with the British government back during the time of the French and Indian War (1763) when, unhappy with his apprenticeship as a shoemaker, he tried to enlist in the British army. Hewes did not meet the height requirements set by the army (you had to be at least 5'2" and he was 5'1") and also the army did not allow Roman Catholics to join. The reason the army did not sanction Roman Catholics in the army is because the Pope was seen as the enemy of the British ruler and an enemy of Great Britain. Hewes became a little frustrated with this. His frustration was building with the continuous breaches of liberty by the British in the aforementioned events of the Stamp Act, the trade laws, and the Boston Massacre. Now since Hewes was just an everyday man in the city of Boston it makes his story a little more special. We are used to hearing about the stories of the more famous people of the American History in this era it would be Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and John Adams. Hearing about how these acts affected normal, everyday people can out things into perspective for us.
Hewes' immediate involvement in the Boston Tea Party itself began with one of a few meetings that were held to determine how to get the British ships out of Griffin's Wharf. The royal governor of Massachusetts was asked by the people for a pass to send the ships back to England because the townspeople did not want to pay the absurd tax on the tea. The pass was not granted. These meetings that were being held were usually open only to the people that had a fair amount of property, but the leaders waived that rule to let all citizens participate in the meetings. Throughout these meetings various people were appointed to various positions on the raid on the British ships. Some people had more prominent roles than others and Hewes happened to be one of those with a less prominent role. Hewes, wanting more involvement, stops at a blacksmith's shop and puts some soot on his face and dresses up like an Indian. Hewes becomes immersed in the action and is on board one of the ships help ing to dump the tea. He is appointed to give orders to other sailors.
The American Revolution was a success to Hewes because it allowed an "ordinary" man a chance to prove himself. He had a chance to give birth to a nation. As Young has said about Hewes, he was "a nobody who briefly became a somebody in the Revolution and, for a moment near the end of his life, a hero." When Hewes was "rediscovered" in the 1830's American nationalism was on the rise and it gave Hewes a chance to tell his story. It showed that America's true heroes are its everyday peoples.