Tea Act

The East India Company, famed for spreading English influence throughout India, had fallen on hard times in the early 1770s. In 1767, British policymakers had imposed a duty on tea and other commodities destined for the colonies. A boycott of British goods convinced the government that it should repeal the unpopular Townshend Duties in 1770, but insisted on retaining the tax on tea as a matter of principle. As a result, the East India Company had warehouses full of tea, but was teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.The British government responded in 1773 with a program designed to answer two needs: (1) extend assistance to the East India Company, and (2) challenge the American colonists on the nettlesome taxation issue.The Tea Act of 1773 provided for the following:

  • Tea was allowed to be shipped in East India Company ships directly from India to the American colonies, thus avoiding a tax if the commodity were first sent to England as required by previous legislation
  • A duty of three pence per pound was to be collected on tea delivered to America; this tax was considerably less than the previous one
  • The tea was to be marketed in America by special consignees selected by the East India Company. Four centers, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Charleston were selected.

Many in England thought this law would be warmly greeted in America, because it allowed the colonists to resume their tea-drinking habit at a cost lower than ever before. Ships laden with more than 500,000 pounds of tea set off for the colonies in September 1773.The optimists in Britain were disappointed by the American reaction. Ordinarily conservative shippers and shopkeepers were directly impacted by the new law and were vocal in their opposition. Previously, American ships brought much of the tea from England, but that trade was now reserved for the East India Company. The shop owners objected to the new practice of using only selected merchants to sell the tea; many would be excluded from this trade in favor of a new monopoly.Opposition developed to the arriving tea shipments in Boston and other colonial ports. The Tea Act actually revived the flagging careers of agitators like Samuel Adams, who had been frustrated in recent years by the relative calm in the relationship with the mother country. The radicals found allies in the formerly conservative business community.Public anger was sufficient to induce many of the appointed tea agents to resign their positions before the tea arrived. In New York City and Philadelphia the ships’ masters quickly assessed the situation on arrival and headed back to England. In Annapolis the ship owner was forced by angry demonstrators to set fire to his ship and its cargo of tea.The focal point of opposition, however, was Boston. There Governor Thomas Hutchinson, whose relatives were the local tea agents, decided to force the issue. The outcome was the Boston Tea Party.


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Tea Act

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Tea Act, (1773), in British American colonial history, legislative maneuver by the British ministry of Lord North to make English tea marketable in America. A previous crisis had been averted in 1770 when all the Townshend Acts duties had been lifted except that on tea, which had been mainly supplied to the Colonies since then by Dutch smugglers. In an effort to help the financially troubled British East India Company sell 17,000,000 pounds of tea stored in England, the Tea Act rearranged excise regulations so that the company could pay the Townshend duty and still undersell its competitors. At the same time, the North administration hoped to reassert Parliament’s right to levy direct revenue taxes on the Colonies. The shipments became a symbol of taxation tyranny to the colonists, reopening the door to unknown future tax abuses. Colonial resistance culminated in the Boston Tea Party (December 1773), in which tea was dumped into the ocean, and in a similar action in New York (April 1774).


Tea Act

An act to allow a drawback of the duties of customs on the exportation of tea to any of his Majesty's colonies or plantations in America to increase the deposit on bohea tea to be sold at the India Company's sales and to impower the commissioners of the treasury to grant licences to the East India Company to export tea duty-free.

WHEREAS by an act, made in the twelfth year of his present Majesty's reign, (intituled, An act for granting a drawback of part of the customs upon the exportation of tea to Ireland, and the British dominions in America for altering the drawback upon foreign sugars exported from Great Britain to Ireland for continuing the bounty on the exportation of British-made cordage for allowing the importation of rice from the British plantations into the ports of Bristol, Liverpoole, Lancaster, and Whitehaven, for immediate exportation to foreign parts and to impower the chief magistrate of any corporation to administer the oath, and grant the certificate required by law, upon the removal of certain goods to London, which have been sent into the country for sale) it is amongst other things, enacted, That for and during the space of five years, to be computed from and after the fifth day of July, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-two, there shall be drawn back and allowed for all teas which shall be sold after the said fifth day of July, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-two, at the publick sale of the united company of merchants of England trading to the East Indies, or which after that time shall be imported, by licence, in pursuance of the said therein and hereinafter mentioned act, made in the eighteenth year of the reign of his late majesty King George the Second, and which shall be exported from this kingdom, as merchandise, to Ireland, or any of the British colonies or plantations in America, three-fifth parts of the several duties of customs which were paid upon the importation of such teas which drawback or allowance, with respect to such teas as shall be exported to Ireland, shall be made to the exporter, in such manner, and under such rules, regulations, securities, penalties, and forfeitures, as any drawback or allowance was then payable, out of the duty of customs upon the exportation of foreign goods to Ireland and with respect to such teas as shall be exported to the British colonies and plantations in America, the said dreawback or allowance shall be made in such manner, and under such rules, regulations, penalties, and forfeitures, as any drawback or allowance payable out of the duty of customs upon foreign goods exported to foreign parts, was could, or might be made, before the passing of the said act of the twelfth year of his present Majesty's reign, (except in such cases as are otherwise therein provided for:) and whereas it may tend to the benefit and advantage of the trade of the said united company of merchants of England trading to the East Indies, if the allowance of the drawback of the duties of customs upon all teas sold at the publick sales of the said united company, after the tenth day of May, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-three, and which shall be exported from this kingdom, as merchandise, to any of the British colonies or plantations in America, were to extend to the whole of the said duties of customs payable upon the importation of such teas may it therefore please your Majesty that it may be enacted and be it enacted by the King's most excellent majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the lords spiritual and temporal, and commons, in this present parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, That there shall be drawn back and allowed for all teas, which, from and after the tenth day of May, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-three, shall be sold at the publick sales of the said united company, or which shall be imported by licence, in pursuance of the said act made in the eighteenth year of the reign of his late majesty King George the Second, and which shall, at any time hereafter, be exported from this kingdom, as merchandise, to any of the British colonies or plantations in America, the whole of the duties of customs payable upon the importation of such teas which drawback or allowance shall be made to the exporter in such manner, and under such rules, regulations, and securities, and subject to the like penalties and forfeitures, as the former drawback or allowance granted by the said recited act of the twelfth year of his present Majesty's reign, upon tea exported to the said British colonies and plantations in America was, might, or could be made, and was subject to by the said recited act, or any other act of parliament now in force, in as full and ample manner, to all intents and purposes, as if the several clauses relative thereto were again repeated and re-enacted in this present act.

II. And whereas by one other act made in the eighteenth year of the reign of his late majesty King George the Second, (intituled, An act for repealing the present inland duty of four shillings per pound weight upon all tea sold in Great Britain and for granting to his Majesty certain other inland duties in lieu thereof and for better securing the duty upon tea, and other duties of excise and for pursuing offenders out of one county into another,) it is, amongst other things, enacted, That every person who shall, at any publick sale of tea made by the united company of merchants of England trading to the East Indies, be declared to be the best bidder for any lot or lots of tea, shall, within three days after being so declared the best bidder or bidders for the same, deposit with the said united company, or such clerk or officer as the said company shall appoint to receive the same, forty shillings for every tub and for every chest of tea and in case any such person or persons shall refuse or neglect to make such deposit within the time before limited, he, she, or they, shall forfeit and lose six times the value of such deposit directed to be made as aforesaid, to be recovered by action of debt, bill, plaint, or information, in any of his Majesty's courts of record at Westminster, in which no essoin, protection, or wager of law, or more than one imparlance, shall be allowed one moiety of which forfeiture shall go to his Majesty, his heirs and successors, and the other moiety to such person as shall sue or prosecute for the same and the sale of all teas, for which such deposit shall be neglected to be made as aforesaid, is thereby declared to be null and void, and such teas shall be again put up by the said united company to publick sale, within fourteen days after the end of the sale of teas at which such teas were sold and all and every buyer or buyers, who shall have neglected to make such deposit as aforesaid, shall be, and is and are thereby rendered incapable of bidding for or buying any teas at any future publick sale of the said united company: and whereas it is found to be expedient and necessary to increase the deposit to be made by any bidder or bidders for any lot or lots of bohea teas, at the publick sales of teas to be made by the said united company be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, That every person who shall, after the tenth day of May, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-three, at any publick sale of tea to be made by the said united company of merchants of England trading to the East Indies, be declared to be the best bidder or bidders for any lot or lots of bohea tea, shall, within three days after being so declared the best bidder or bidders for the same, deposit with the said united company, or such clerk or officer as the said united company shall appoint to receive the same, four pounds of lawful money of Great Britain for every tub and for every chest of bohea tea, under the same terms and conditions, and subject to the same forfeitures, penalties, and regulations, as are mentioned and contained in the said recited act of the eighteenth year of the reign of his said late Majesty.

III. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That it shall and may be lawful for the commissioners of his Majesty's treasury, or any three or more of them, or for the high treasurer for the time being, upon application made to them by the said united company of merchants of England trading to the East Indies for that purpose, to grant a licence or licences to the said united company, to take out of their warehouses, without the same having been put up to sale, and to export to any of the British plantations in America, or to any parts beyond the seas, such quantity or quantities of tea as the said commissioners of his Majesty's treasury, or any three or more of them, or the high treasurer for the time being, shall think proper and expedient, without incurring any penalty or forfeiture for so doing any thing in the said in part recited act, or any other law, to the contrary notwithstanding.

IV. And whereas by an act made in the ninth and tenth years of the reign of King William the Third, (intituled, An act for raising a sum not exceeding two millions, upon a fund, for payment of annuities, after the rate of eight pounds per centum per annum and for settling the trade to the East Indies,) and by several other acts of parliament which are now in force, the said united company of merchants of England trading to the East Indies are obliged to give security, under their common seal, for payment of the duties of customs upon all unrated goods imported by them, so soon as the same shall be sold and for exposing such goods to sale, openly and fairly, by way of auction, or by inch of candle, within the space of three years from the importation thereof: and whereas it is expedient that some provision should be made to permit the said company, in certain cases, to export tea, on their own account, to the British plantations in America, or to foreign parts, without exposing such tea, to sale here, or being charged with the payment of any duty for the same be it therefore enacted by the authority aforesaid, That from and after the passing of this act, it shall and may be lawful for the commissioners of his Majesty's treasury, or any three or more of them, or the high treasurer for the time being, to grant a licence or quantity of licences to the said united company, to take out of their warehouses such quantity or quantities of tea as the said commissioners of the treasury, or any three or more of them, or the high treasurer for the time being, shall think proper, without the same having been exposed to sale in this kingdom and to export such tea to any of the British colonies or plantations in America, or to foreign parts, discharged from the payment of any customs or duties whatsoever any thing in the said recited act, or any other act to the contrary notwithstanding.

V. Provided always, and it is hereby further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That a due entry shall be made at the custom-house, of all such tea so exported by licence, as aforesaid, expressing the quantities thereof, at what time imported, and by what ship and such tea shall be shipped for exportation by the proper officer for that purpose, and shall, in all other respects, not altered by this act, be liable to the same rules, regulations, restrictions, securities, penalties, and forfeitures, as tea penalties, &c. exported to the like places was liable to before the passing this act: and upon the proper officer's duty, certifying the shipping of such tea to the collector and comptroller of his Majesty's customs for the port of London, upon the back of the licence, and the exportation thereof, verified by the oath of the husband or agent for the said united company, to be wrote at the bottom of such certificate, and sworn before the said collector and comptroller of the customs, (which oath they are hereby impowered to administer,) it shall and may be lawful for such collector and comptroller to write off and discharge the quantity of tea so exported from the warrant of the respective ship in which such tea was imported.

VI. Provided nevertheless, That no such licence shall be granted, unless it shall first be made to appear to the satisfaction of the commissioners of his Majesty's treasury, or any three or more of them, or the high treasurer for the time being, that at the time of taking out such teas, for the exportation of which licence or licences shall be granted, there will be left remaining in the warehouses of the said united company, a quantity of tea not less than ten millions of pounds weight any thing herein, or in any other act of parliament, contained to the contrary thereof notwithstanding.


Related Information

Boston Tea Party

Full description of the Boston Tea Party from the Boston Tea Party Historical Society.

Tea Act contribution to the Revolutionary War

As retribution for the Tea Party, Britain enacted the Coercive Acts which led to the creation of Committee of Correspondence and the First Continental Congress.

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Timeline

1651 - Navigation Acts
1733 - Molasses Act
1754-1763 - French and Indian War
1754 - Albany Congress
1763 - Proclamation of 1763
1764 - Sugar Act
1764 - Currency Act
1765 - Stamp Act
1765 - Quartering Act Congress
1766 - Declaratory Act
1767 - Townshend Revenue Act
1770 - Boston Massacre
1773 - Tea Act
1773 - Boston Tea Party
1774 - Intolerable or Coercive Acts
1774 - First Continental Congress
1775-1783 - War of Independence


On This Day in History -April 27, 1773

On this day in history, April 27, 1773, the House of Commons passes the Tea Act, an act which would lead to the Boston Tea Party and plunge Great Britain and her American colonies into war. The colonists in America had complained about taxes before. They did not mind paying taxes. Rather, their disagreement was with who had the authority to tax them. Since they had no representatives in Parliament, they believed it was unjust for Parliament to tax them. Instead, the proper bodies to tax them should be their own elected assemblies.

When the Stamp Act was passed in 1765, the colonists protested its taxes to the point of violence. When Parliament finally repealed the Act, it passed along with it an act called the Declaratory Act, which reaffirmed Parliament's right to tax the colonies in whatever way it saw fit. While most celebrated the repeal of the Stamp Act, some saw an ominous sign in the Declaratory Act of more taxes to come.

More taxes did indeed come with the Townshend Acts of 1767, which levied taxes on paper, lead, glass painters' colors and tea. The colonists responded by protesting and boycotting British goods as usual, forcing Parliament to repeal all of the Townshend Acts' taxes in 1770, except for the tax on tea, which the colonists continued to boycott. The boycott especially affected the British East India Company, which shipped tea from India to Britain and her colonies.

British policy forced the East India Company to ship tea to England first where it was taxed upon import. Then the tea had to be sold in London markets to merchants who shipped it to America where it was taxed again. The multiple taxes and the middlemen merchants caused the price of tea to be very high by the time it reached consumers in America. This opened up a large market for smuggled Dutch tea, which was much cheaper. By the early 1770s, the East India Company was struggling to survive, with warehouses full of tea it couldn't sell because its price was undercut in the colonies by Dutch tea.

In order to prevent the East India Company from going bankrupt, Parliament came up with a scheme called the Tea Act, first passed by the House of Commons on April 27, 1773 and passed into law with King George's signature on May 10. The Tea Act allowed the Company to ship tea directly to the colonies, bypassing the London middlemen and the London duties. The only tax that remained was on the colonies' end and that tax was quite small. This new scheme greatly reduced the price of British tea. If the colonists bought the lower priced tea, they would also be tacitly agreeing to the notion that Parliament did indeed have the right to tax them.

The colonists, however, no matter how small the tax, had no intention of paying unjust taxes to Britain. They recognized the scheme immediately as an attempt to bribe them into giving Parliament authority to tax them in exchange for cheap goods. The colonists responded by forbidding tea ships from entering their harbors, culminating with the Boston Tea Party, during which 42 tons of tea were dumped into Boston Harbor in protest.

Britain responded in force by passing the Coercive Acts, which closed Boston Harbor and shut down the Massachusetts government, until the tea was paid for. Known as the Intolerable Acts in the colonies, these Acts led directly to the formation of the First Continental Congress to plan a joint colonial response. The American Revolution broke out in full fury shortly afterwards.


9f. The Tea Act and Tea Parties


The Gaspee was burned by colonists angry about taxes and British harassment of their ships.

The British were in a spot &mdash all because of tea.

The partial repeal of the Townshend Acts did not bring the same reaction in the American colonies as the repeal of the Stamp Act. Too much had already happened. Not only had the Crown attempted to tax the colonies on several occasions, but two taxes were still being collected &mdash one on sugar and one on tea.

Military occupation and bloodshed, whether intentional or not, cannot be forgotten easily. Although importation had largely been resumed, the problems of customs officers continued. One ill-fated customs ship, the Gaspee , was burnt to ashes by angry Rhode Islanders when the unfortunate vessel ran aground. Tensions mounted on both sides. It would take time for wounds to heal. But Parliament would not give that time.

Playing Monopoly

The British East India Company was on the brink of financial collapse. Lord North hatched a scheme to deal simultaneously with the ailing corporation and the problem of taxing the colonies. He decided to grant the British East India Company a trading monopoly with the American colonies.

A tax on tea would be maintained, but the company would actually be able to sell its tea for a price that was lower than before. A monopoly doesn't allow for competition. As such the British East India Company could lower its prices.

The Tea Act, 1773

WHEREAS by an act, made in the twelfth year of his present Majesty's reign, (intituled, An act for granting a drawback of part of the customs upon the exportation of tea to Ireland, and the British dominions in America for altering the drawback upon foreign sugars exported from Great Britain to Ireland for continuing the bounty on the exportation of British-made cordage for allowing the importation of rice from the British plantations into the ports of Bristol, Liverpoole, Lancaster, and Whitehaven, for immediate exportation to foreign parts and to impower the chief magistrate of any corporation to administer the oath, and grant the certificate required by law, upon the removal of certain goods to London, which have been sent into the country for sale) it is amongst other things, enacted, That for and during the space of five years, to be computed from and after the fifth day of July, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-two, there shall be drawn back and allowed for all teas which shall be sold after the said fifth day of July, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-two, at the publick sale of the united company of merchants of England trading to the East Indies, or which after that time shall be imported, by licence, in pursuance of the said therein and hereinafter mentioned act, made in the eighteenth year of the reign of his late majesty King George the Second, and which shall be exported from this kingdom, as merchandise, to Ireland, or any of the British colonies or plantations in America, three-fifth parts of the several duties of customs which were paid upon the importation of such teas which drawback or allowance, with respect to such teas as shall be exported to Ireland, shall be made to the exporter, in such manner, and under such rules, regulations, securities, penalties, and forfeitures, as any drawback or allowance was then payable, out of the duty of customs upon the exportation of foreign goods to Ireland and with respect to such teas as shall be exported to the British colonies and plantations in America, the said dreawback or allowance shall be made in such manner, and under such rules, regulations, penalties, and forfeitures, as any drawback or allowance payable out of the duty of customs upon foreign goods exported to foreign parts, was could, or might be made, before the passing of the said act of the twelfth year of his present Majesty's reign, (except in such cases as are otherwise therein provided for:) and whereas it may tend to the benefit and advantage of the trade of the said united company of merchants of England trading to the East Indies, if the allowance of the drawback of the duties of customs upon all teas sold at the publick sales of the said united company, after the tenth day of May, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-three, and which shall be exported from this kingdom, as merchandise, to any of the British colonies or plantations in America, were to extend to the whole of the said duties of customs payable upon the importation of such teas may it therefore please your Majesty that it may be enacted and be it enacted by the King's most excellent majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the lords spiritual and temporal, and commons, in this present parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, That there shall be drawn back and allowed for all teas, which, from and after the tenth day of May, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-three, shall be sold at the publick sales of the said united company, or which shall be imported by licence, in pursuance of the said act made in the eighteenth year of the reign of his late majesty King George the Second, and which shall, at any time hereafter, be exported from this kingdom, as merchandise, to any of the British colonies or plantations in America, the whole of the duties of customs payable upon the importation of such teas which drawback or allowance shall be made to the exporter in such manner, and under such rules, regulations, and securities, and subject to the like penalties and forfeitures, as the former drawback or allowance granted by the said recited act of the twelfth year of his present Majesty's reign, upon tea exported to the said British colonies and plantations in America was, might, or could be made, and was subject to by the said recited act, or any other act of parliament now in force, in as full and ample manner, to all intents and purposes, as if the several clauses relative thereto were again repeated and re-enacted in this present act.

II. And whereas by one other act made in the eighteenth year of the reign of his late majesty King George the Second, (intituled, An act for repealing the present inland duty of four shillings per pound weight upon all tea sold in Great Britain and for granting to his Majesty certain other inland duties in lieu thereof and for better securing the duty upon tea, and other duties of excise and for pursuing offenders out of one county into another,) it is, amongst other things, enacted, That every person who shall, at any publick sale of tea made by the united company of merchants of England trading to the East Indies, be declared to be the best bidder for any lot or lots of tea, shall, within three days after being so declared the best bidder or bidders for the same, deposit with the said united company, or such clerk or officer as the said company shall appoint to receive the same, forty shillings for every tub and for every chest of tea and in case any such person or persons shall refuse or neglect to make such deposit within the time before limited, he, she, or they, shall forfeit and lose six times the value of such deposit directed to be made as aforesaid, to be recovered by action of debt, bill, plaint, or information, in any of his Majesty's courts of record at Westminster, in which no essoin, protection, or wager of law, or more than one imparlance, shall be allowed one moiety of which forfeiture shall go to his Majesty, his heirs and successors, and the other moiety to such person as shall sue or prosecute for the same and the sale of all teas, for which such deposit shall be neglected to be made as aforesaid, is thereby declared to be null and void, and such teas shall be again put up by the said united company to publick sale, within fourteen days after the end of the sale of teas at which such teas were sold and all and every buyer or buyers, who shall have neglected to make such deposit as aforesaid, shall be, and is and are thereby rendered incapable of bidding for or buying any teas at any future publick sale of the said united company: and whereas it is found to be expedient and necessary to increase the deposit to be made by any bidder or bidders for any lot or lots of bohea teas, at the publick sales of teas to be made by the said united company be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, That every person who shall, after the tenth day of May, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-three, at any publick sale of tea to be made by the said united company of merchants of England trading to the East Indies, be declared to be the best bidder or bidders for any lot or lots of bohea tea, shall, within three days after being so declared the best bidder or bidders for the same, deposit with the said united company, or such clerk or officer as the said united company shall appoint to receive the same, four pounds of lawful money of Great Britain for every tub and for every chest of bohea tea, under the same terms and conditions, and subject to the same forfeitures, penalties, and regulations, as are mentioned and contained in the said recited act of the eighteenth year of the reign of his said late Majesty.

III. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That it shall and may be lawful for the commissioners of his Majesty's treasury, or any three or more of them, or for the high treasurer for the time being, upon application made to them by the said united company of merchants of England trading to the East Indies for that purpose, to grant a licence or licences to the said united company, to take out of their warehouses, without the same having been put up to sale, and to export to any of the British plantations in America, or to any parts beyond the seas, such quantity or quantities of tea as the said commissioners of his Majesty's treasury, or any three or more of them, or the high treasurer for the time being, shall think proper and expedient, without incurring any penalty or forfeiture for so doing any thing in the said in part recited act, or any other law, to the contrary notwithstanding.

IV. And whereas by an act made in the ninth and tenth years of the reign of King William the Third, (intituled, An act for raising a sum not exceeding two millions, upon a fund, for payment of annuities, after the rate of eight pounds per centum per annum and for settling the trade to the East Indies,) and by several other acts of parliament which are now in force, the said united company of merchants of England trading to the East Indies are obliged to give security, under their common seal, for payment of the duties of customs upon all unrated goods imported by them, so soon as the same shall be sold and for exposing such goods to sale, openly and fairly, by way of auction, or by inch of candle, within the space of three years from the importation thereof: and whereas it is expedient that some provision should be made to permit the said company, in certain cases, to export tea, on their own account, to the British plantations in America, or to foreign parts, without exposing such tea, to sale here, or being charged with the payment of any duty for the same be it therefore enacted by the authority aforesaid, That from and after the passing of this act, it shall and may be lawful for the commissioners of his Majesty's treasury, or any three or more of them, or the high treasurer for the time being, to grant a licence or quantity of licences to the said united company, to take out of their warehouses such quantity or quantities of tea as the said commissioners of the treasury, or any three or more of them, or the high treasurer for the time being, shall think proper, without the same having been exposed to sale in this kingdom and to export such tea to any of the British colonies or plantations in America, or to foreign parts, discharged from the payment of any customs or duties whatsoever any thing in the said recited act, or any other act to the contrary notwithstanding.

V. Provided always, and it is hereby further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That a due entry shall be made at the custom-house, of all such tea so exported by licence, as aforesaid, expressing the quantities thereof, at what time imported, and by what ship and such tea shall be shipped for exportation by the proper officer for that purpose, and shall, in all other respects, not altered by this act, be liable to the same rules, regulations, restrictions, securities, penalties, and forfeitures, as tea penalties, &c. exported to the like places was liable to before the passing this act: and upon the proper officer's duty, certifying the shipping of such tea to the collector and comptroller of his Majesty's customs for the port of London, upon the back of the licence, and the exportation thereof, verified by the oath of the husband or agent for the said united company, to be wrote at the bottom of such certificate, and sworn before the said collector and comptroller of the customs, (which oath they are hereby impowered to administer,) it shall and may be lawful for such collector and comptroller to write off and discharge the quantity of tea so exported from the warrant of the respective ship in which such tea was imported.

VI. Provided nevertheless, That no such licence shall be granted, unless it shall first be made to appear to the satisfaction of the commissioners of his Majesty's treasury, or any three or more of them, or the high treasurer for the time being, that at the time of taking out such teas, for the exportation of which licence or licences shall be granted, there will be left remaining in the warehouses of the said united company, a quantity of tea not less than ten millions of pounds weight any thing herein, or in any other act of parliament, contained to the contrary thereof notwithstanding.


The British East India Company began with a royal charter from Queen Elizabeth in 1600 and developed into an economic powerhouse. When the company faced financial ruin during the 1770s, the British government stepped in with the Tea Act to help the struggling company.

The colonists, Lord North hoped, would be happy to receive cheaper tea and willing to pay the tax. This would have the dual result of saving the tea company and securing compliance from Americans on the tax issue. It was a brilliant plan. There was, of course, one major flaw in his thinking.

The colonists saw through this thinly veiled plot to encourage tax payment. Furthermore, they wondered how long the monopoly would keep prices low.

Activists were busy again, advocating boycott. Many went further. British ships carrying the controversial cargo were met with threats of violence in virtually all colonial ports. This was usually sufficient to convince the ships to turn around. In Annapolis, citizens burned a ship and the tea it carried.

Boston, of course, reacted in a similarly extreme fashion.

The Boston Tea Party

Governor Thomas Hutchinson allowed three ships carrying tea to enter Boston Harbor. Before the tax could be collected, Bostonians took action. On a cold December night, radical townspeople stormed the ships and tossed 342 chests of tea into the water. Disguised as Native Americans, the offenders could not be identified.

I 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 shopof a blacksmith, I repaired to Griffin's wharf,where the ships lay that contained the tea.

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.

&ndash Anonymous, "Account of the Boston Tea Party by a Participant," (1773)

The damage in modern American dollars exceeded three quarters of a million dollars. Not a single British East India Company chest of tea bound for the 13 colonies reached its destination. Not a single American colonist had a cup of that tea.


Tea Act - History

Despite the economic benefit to end consumers of tea, the Tea Act damaged the position of independent shippers, smugglers and local shopkeepers. John Hancock was a well known tea smuggler whose tea inventory was seized by custom officials. Powerful business interest and the Sons of Liberty convinced the population to view the act as another means of “taxation without representation” as they did not have the freedom to buy tea from other merchants at the same price as from selected official merchants.

Colonists showed their opposition to the Tea Act through the Boston Tea Party and other uprisings throughout the colonies. As a result British parliament passed theIntolerable Acts or Coercive Acts, a package of five laws, meant to restore order in the colonies. One of the new laws was the The Boston Port Act which closed the port of Boston until the East India Company was repaid for the lost of its tea cargo. The Massachusetts Government Act restricted the authority of colonial assemblies and banned committees of correspondence. The Administration of Justice Act limited the ability for colonial courts to try British officials. The Quartering Act mandated colonies to house British soldiers. The Quebec Act favored the catholic French majority to boost their loyalty in the face of growing resistance in the New England colonies.

Illustration of the Boston Tea Party, Boston residents dressed as Native Americans.

Contribution of the Tea Act to the Revolutionary War

The reaction to the Tea Act that led to the Boston Tea Party (see Tea Act crisis) united all parties in Britain against American extremists. British parliament was united in passing the Intolerable Acts also known as Coercive Acts as a retribution for the uprising and violence of the Boston Tea Party. The Boston Tea Party is perhaps the most famous event preceding the American Revolution.

On the colonist side, opposition to the Coercive Acts united them even more. In response to them Committees of Correspondence were created and established in twelve colonies and their delegates sent to the First Continental Congress. Their first meeting was on September 5, 1774 and their first measure was to issue a Declaration of Rights and Grievances agreeing to boycott British goods. The British declared Massachusetts to be in a state of rebellion, their leaders to be arrested and all military arsenal to be destroyed.

On April 19, 1775 General Gage ordered seven hundred men to capture all military arsenal in Concord. That night Paul Revere rode from Boston to Lexington to warn patriots about the arrival of British troops. Colonists assembled at Lexington Green and shoots broke out while more militia gathered at Concord Bridge. The battles of Lexington and Concord became know as the first battles fought for American independence.


Key Facts & Information

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

  • After the Seven Years’ War (1756 to 1763), Britain greatly expanded its empire. However, it also caused massive national debt due to the costs of war. To rebuild the economy and achieve stability, the British government saw the American colonies as a source of revenue.
  • In 1765, the Stamp Act was passed by the British Parliament and imposed on the American colonies. It levied a tax on printed materials produced and used inside the 13 colonies.
  • In response, the colonists rejected the implementation of the new tax and began to fight for no to “taxation without representation”, arguing its unconstitutionality. When the British Parliament denied their request, the colonists resorted to mob violence and boycotted the stamp tax.
  • The following year, Parliament repealed the act.
  • After repealing the Stamp Act, Parliament then passed the Townshend Act in 1767, which placed a tax of goods imported to the Americas, including paper, tea, glass, and paint. Like the Stamp Act, the colonists showed displeasure over the new act and responded by boycotting imported goods.
  • By 1770, Parliament repealed duties on a number of goods under the Townshend Act, except the tax on tea. Many colonists resorted to drinking cheaper Dutch tea, which was illegally imported.
  • As a result, the revenue of the East India Company fell, which also troubled the British Parliament.
  • North American merchants were importing tea from the Dutch and making a much bigger profit because it was cheaper, they paid no duties on it and were, therefore, able to keep the markup they placed on it. These transactions violated the Navigation Acts, however, and were treated by the British as smuggling.
  • Smugglers imported about 900,000 pounds (410,000 kg) of cheap foreign tea every year. Patriots like the Sons of Liberty encouraged people to buy the smuggled tea because, although the quality wasn’t as high as the British tea, it was seen as a political protest against the Townshend taxes.

PROVISIONS OF THE TEA ACT

  • Facing trouble in the American colonies, in 1773, the British Parliament passed the Tea Act. It allowed the East India Company to directly ship tea to the colonies without passing England. This way, duties were reduced and resulted in the cheaper price of English tea in the colonies. was one of several people who suggested the Company be allowed to export their tea tax-free. The act would allow them to cut out the middlemen who were smuggling cheap tea by undercutting their prices. The colonists would pay for the cheaper Company tea and that tea would be subject to the Townshend tax, which would legitimize the British Parliament’s ability to tax the colonies.
  • The Tea Act received royal assent on May 10, 1773. The act contained a number of provisions:
    • The East India Company was granted a licence to export tea to North America.
    • They were no longer required to sell their tea at the London Tea Market.
    • The duties on tea shipped to North America and other foreign parts were not imposed nor refunded when the tea was exported.
    • Anybody receiving tea from the East India Company was required to pay a deposit upon receipt.

    THE COLONIES’ RESPONSE

    • Many colonists rejected the Tea Act. People in the colonies were now only able to purchase tea from the Company, and they didn’t like this monopoly. It also validated the Townshend Tax on tea.
    • Merchants who had been importing tea would lose their business. The illegal importers of Dutch tea would also be affected, and they joined forces to oppose the Act.
    • Opposition to the Tea Act affected imported tea in many colonies. In New York and Philadelphia, for example, protests forced the tea delivered there to be sent back to Britain. In Charleston, the colonists left the tea on the docks to rot.
    • Over £90,000 of tea was destroyed by colonists at the Boston Tea Party on December 16, 1773. The American colonists protested the British government by boarding 3 trade ships in Boston Harbor and throwing 342 chests of tea into the water. In today’s money, that tea would have been worth roughly £7,85 million.

    CONSEQUENCES OF THE TEA ACT

    • After the Boston Tea Party, the British enacted the Boston Port Act. The events on December 16, 1773, appalled the British, and, in response, this act completely shut down the Boston Harbor until the dumped tea was paid for.
    • It was one of the many causes of the American Revolutionary War. The Boston Port Act was the first of what the British called “Coercive Acts”. The colonists called them Intolerable Acts and these laws that were passed by Parliament in response to the Boston Tea Party eventually led to war.
    • The British eventually introduced the Taxation of Colonies Act 1778 to repeal the tea tax. This came too late, however, and was not enough to end the war because the dispute extended beyond taxation and the colonies had already declared independence.

    Tea Act of 1773 Worksheets

    This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Tea Act of 1773 across 20 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Tea Act of 1773 worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Tea Act of 1773 which was imposed on the American colonies by the British government who was heavily in debt in the decade leading up to the American Revolutionary War. The act was intended to bail out the struggling East India Company, which was very important for the British economy, and the Tea Act would raise revenue from the
    13 colonies.

    Complete List Of Included Worksheets

    • Tea Act of 1773 Facts
    • Sequencing Events
    • Tea Act Storyboard
    • Cause and Effect
    • In Painting
    • Point of View
    • Past and Present
    • Poster Making
    • Colonial Taxes
    • Understanding Taxes
    • The Boston Tea Party

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    Tea Act - History

    One of the most controversial decrees made by the British Empire in all of American History was the Tea Act. It was an act established on 1773 by the British Parliament that stated that the East Indian Company would have to cruise directly to the American colonies to export their tea instead of going first to Britain and then export it again to the same colonies. This consequently made the tea cheaper for the Americans, but how did this make it controversial for them?

    East India Company

    At that time, the British East India Company had been facing bankruptcy due to the reduced sales of their tea. They originally ran their business by monopolizing tea throughout the colonies. The highly-priced tea brought about a lot of smugglers to sell tea without the tax. Now this became a very dangerous situation for the company huge piles of boxes were left to rot inside their warehouses since no one was buying them.

    In addition to that, the British Empire was displeased, so they decided to help out the company. In May of 1773, the Tea Act was established to solve their problem. The desperate attempt drastically reduced the price of their tea in order to attract a lot of buyers and to compete with the tea shipped from Holland. Unfortunately, the Americans were not at all pleased with this move. They were apparently forced to buy only the ones from the East Indian Company.

    Yes, the prices did go down. The offer looked tempting for the Americans, but they were no fools. The East Indian Company only sought to strengthen the monopoly they had been running to get back on track. The price reduction did not change the fact that the British Empire had used this ploy to continue their notorious tax collection strategies. This issue was no exception to the prominent slogan of the American colonists: “No taxation without representation.”

    Boston Tea Party

    The most prominent group that was against this was led by a man named John Hancock. The boycott they organized left the East Indian Company penniless. No one wanted to buy their product. Every state greeted the docks with a variety of reactions. The British ships were forced to sail back upon reaching New York and Philadelphia. The people in Charleston did not give any form of attention to the packs of tea that were left on the ships to perish. However, a drastic turn of events occurred in Boston. What happened in Boston soon became one of the most notable events that eventually led to the American Revolution.

    On December 16, 1773, a governor in Boston named Hutchinson refused to give up. He did not allow the tea ships to leave without getting paid for the tea. A man named Samuel Adams tried to contain the collecting crowd, only to be overwhelmed by them and the impending occurrence of the Boston Tea Party. Later that day, the people disguised as Mohawk Indians boarded the ships and dropped the boxes of tea into the water.


    Watch the video: Libertys Kids 101 - The Boston Tea Party Pilot, Part I (January 2022).