The Tea Act

Following the Seven Years' War (1756-1763), the British Empire was deeply in debt. In an attempt to subsidize the costs of the war and their newly expanded empire, the British Parliament chose to raise revenue by levying taxes against the American colonies with the Sugar Act of 1764 and the Stamp Act of 1765. According to the British constitution, however, this taxation was illegal. The Constitution of Britain outlined that British subjects could only be taxed by consent. Taxes could only be levied by the government with the consent of their Parliamentary representatives. However, the colonies argued that they had no representation in the British Parliament, therefore the taxes violated constitutional doctrine.

In 1773, the Tea Act was passed by the Parliament of Great Britain. While the overt purpose of the act was to relieve the struggling British East India Company of its massive surplus of tea, the act also implicitly required the American colonists to accept Parliament's right to taxation.

As a result of these acts that attempted to tax the American colonists, merchants in the colonies organized a series of economic boycotts. Boston, New York, and other vital port cities organized resistance movements that called for merchants to suspend importation of certain taxed British goods, one of them being tea, a commodity dear to the social lives of many British and American colonists.

One of the most well-known boycotts took place in Boston in December of 1773, when British officials refused to return three shiploads of taxed tea to Britain. In response, a group of American colonists boarded the ship and threw the tea overboard into the Boston Harbor. This famous political protest became known as the Boston Tea Party.