A Parliament Didn't Get the Last Tea Party Either

Deliberative legislative bodies tend to be dismissive when the people express an opinion the ruling class doesn't share.

It started with a handbill posed on November 29, 1773 inviting Bostonians to attend a meeting to plan a protest of taxes on tea. In part, the announcement read,

"...the hour of destruction, or manly opposition to the machinations of tyranny, stares you in the face. Every friend to his country, to himself and to posterity, is now called upon to meet at Faneuil Hall...to make united and successful resistance to this last, worst, and most destructive measure of administration."

The gathering soon outgrew the announced meeting site and moved to Old South Meeting House. There the people agreed to act.

They meet again on December 14th, and then on the 16th when they faced this question:

"[W]ill you abide by your former resolutions with respect to not suffering the tea to be landed?" 

In speaking to the question, Josiah Quincy, a lawyer, said,

"The exertions of this day will call forth events which will make a very different spirit necessary for our salvation. Let us consider the issue. Let us look to the end. Let us weigh and consider, before we advance to those measures which must bring on the most trying and terrible struggle this country ever saw."

The crowd, estimated at about 7,000, was becoming motivated to move from words to deeds.  Someone yelled,

"Boston harbor a teapot to-night! Hurrah for Griffin's Wharf!"

Samuel Adams stood and said,

"This meeting can do no more to save the country."

Among those in charge of keeping the crowd civil on its way to the harbor was John Hancock.

Not so well known today, George Hewes was there, too. Later he wrote,

"It was now evening, and I immediately dressed myself in the costume of an Indian, equipped with a small hatchet, which I and my associates denominated the tomahawk, with which, and a club, after having painted my face and hands with coal dust in the shop of a blacksmith, I repaired to Griffin's wharf, where the ships lay that contained the tea. When I first appeared in the street after being thus disguised, I fell in with many who were dressed, equipped and painted as I was, and who fell in with me and marched in order to the place of our destination.

When we arrived at the wharf, there were three of our number who assumed an authority to direct our operations, to which we readily submitted. They divided us into three parties, for the purpose of boarding the three ships which contained the tea at the same time. The name of him who commanded the division to which I was assigned was Leonard Pitt. The names of the other commanders I never knew. We were immediately ordered by the respective commanders to board all the ships at the same time, which we promptly obeyed. The commander of the division to which I belonged, as soon as we were on board the ship, appointed me boatswain, and ordered me to go to the captain and demand of him the keys to the hatches and a dozen candles. I made the demand accordingly, and the captain promptly replied, and delivered the articles; but requested me at the same time to do no damage to the ship or rigging. We then were ordered by our commander to open the hatches and take out all the chests of tea and throw them overboard, and we immediately proceeded to execute his orders, first cutting and splitting the chests with our tomahawks, so as thoroughly to expose them to the effects of the water.

In about three hours from the time we went on board, we had thus broken and thrown overboard every tea chest to be found in the ship, while those in the other ships were disposing of the tea in the same way, at the same time. We were surrounded by British armed ships, but no attempt was made to resist us.

...The next morning, after we had cleared the ships of the tea, it was discovered that very considerable quantities of it were floating upon the surface of the water; and to prevent the possibility of any of its being saved for use, a number of small boats were manned by sailors and citizens, who rowed them into those parts of the harbor wherever the tea was visible, and by beating it with oars and paddles so thoroughly drenched it as to render its entire destruction inevitable."

Planned, orderly and determined protest.

Today we know the names of 59 who went aboard ships to throw 342 chests of tea into the water, as a much larger crowd watched in silence.  (There's no record of the British government calling them "rightwing extremists.")

"The news of the "Boston Tea Party" reached England in January (1774), but it was not officially announced until early in March. The king had waited for overwhelming evidence of the wickedness of the Americans which he found in letters from Governor Hutchinson and Admiral Montagu, the consignees of the tea, the letters of other royal governors in whose respective colonies there had been serious threatenings, and a large number of inflammatory handbills. All of these were sent by the king to Parliament with a message, in which he asked that body to devise means for the immediate suppression of tumultuous proceedings in the colonies.

The House of Commons proposed an address of thanks to the king, and assurance that he should be sustained in efforts to maintain order in America. This address excited angry debates. The House became "as hot as Faneuil Hall or the Old South Meeting-house in Boston," said Burke. "There is open rebellion in America, and it must be punished," cried the Ministerial party. "Repeal your unjust laws and deal righteously with the Americans, and there will be peace and loyalty there," retorted the Opposition. After a long and stormy debate, the address was adopted by an overwhelming majority."  Source

Here's a list of the laws Parliament passed to punish the Americans.

1.) The Coercive Acts - These acts, including the Boston Harbor bill, closed the harbor to all commercial traffic until Americans paid for the tea they dumped.

2.) The Administration of Justice Act - This act required the extradition (transfer) of all royal officials charged with capital crimes in America to courts in Great Britain.

3.) Massachusetts Government Act - This act ended self-rule in the colonies and made all elected officers in America subject to British appointment.

4.) Quartering Act - This was simply a new version of the 1765 Quartering Act which required Americans to provide accommodations (housing , food, clothing etc.) to British soldiers if necessary.

5.) Quebec Act - This act extended the Canadian border (British territory) into the Ohio River Valley and eliminated lands that were claimed by Massachusetts, Virginia and Connecticut.
These acts were called the Intolerable Acts in America and resulted in the formation of the Continental Congress.

Deliberative legislative bodies tend, then and now, to be dismissive when the people express an opinion they, the ruling class, don't share.

When asked to comment on the April 15, 2009 Tea Parties across America, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, said, in essence, "The people just don't appreciate all the things the Crown has done for them."