By Emma Kaden
“The Boston Tea Party was a political protest that occurred on December 16, 1773, at Griffin’s Wharf in Boston, Massachusetts. American colonists, frustrated and angry at Britain for imposing ‘taxation without representation,’ dumped 342 chests of British tea into the harbor. The event was the first major act of defiance to British rule over the colonists. It showed Great Britain that Americans wouldn’t take taxation and tyranny sitting down, and rallied American patriots across the 13 colonies to fight for independence.”
HISTORY, “Boston Tea Party”
The Boston Tea Party was a crucial event on the road to American independence. Although it marked a turning point in American history, it also came with due consequences. In retaliation for the massive economic damage inflicted by the colonists, the British Parliament imposed a series of acts, all of which enraged the colonists further. These acts are what sparked the meeting of the First Continental Congress, originally intended to address the consequences of these so-called “Intolerable Acts.”
The Boston Port Act
This act went into effect March 31, 1774 and closed the Port of Boston to all ships “landing and discharging, loading or shipping, of goods, wares, and merchandise” until King George III received restitution from Bostonians for the damages suffered during the Tea Party. Additionally, the Boston Port Act required the Massachusetts seat of government be moved to Salem. Because the act limited supplies for Massachusetts colonists, other colonies sent supplies in a relief effort that brought the colonies closer together.
The Massachusetts Government Act
Until this act was passed on May 20, 1774, Massachusetts was the only colony to elect members of its executive council. However, this Act gave King George III full power over the council. This also affected council responsibilities throughout Massachusetts. In short, the Massachusetts Government Act removed all power from the colonists and shifted it back to the king.
The Administration of Justice Act
This Act went into effect May 20, 1774 and was nicknamed “the Murder Act” by colonists. They claimed it would allow accused murderers to evade justice from the colonial judiciary. Furthermore, the Act allowed the royally-appointed Massachusetts governor to move the trials of royal officials who committed capital offenses while performing their duties to another colony or to Great Britain—if the governor believed they would not receive fair trial.
The Quartering Act
On June 2, 1774, the British Parliament renewed and expanded the Quartering Act of 1765, which required colonists to provide lodging and provisions for British soldiers. The new Act took this requirement one step further. The Quartering Act of 1774 allowed British soldiers to board in occupied private homes, striking a devastating blow to colonists’ privacy and freedom.
The Intolerable Acts are more than simply restrictive and despicable legislation from hundreds of years ago. They exemplify how unjustly Great Britain treated the colonies, especially Massachusetts. Unfortunately, they are relatable and still relevant, even to this day.
For example, how would you feel if your local airport was closed to all air traffic by the federal government as recompense for perceived misjustice at the state or local level? How about if your duly elected governor was arbitrarily sacked and replaced at the whim of federal authorities? What if the justice system was completely turned upside down and federal officials could dictate where and when trials took place? Worse yet, what if you were required to house and feed foreign occupiers, armed and most definitely dangerous, without compensation?
The good news: American colonists refused to allow these British atrocities to continue without a fight. The bad news: almost 250 years later, similar acts to inhibit freedom are being enacted by all levels of government. From the National Security Agency listening to Americans’ phone calls and collecting text messages and web traffic to states requiring licences and fees to style hair or set up a lemonade stand to city governments implementing taxes and bans on soda or plastic straws, it seems as though history is repeating itself. However, in this latest iteration, the American government is the culprit. Therefore, it is time we hearken back to the attitudes of our forefathers: Hear ye, hear ye! All freedom-loving brethren, we mustn’t allow our independence to be forsaken! We ought to reestablish our founding philosophy: Don’t tread on me!