The Boston Tea Party - North American Colonies

Taken from The British Empire in the Nineteenth Century (1898) by Edgar Sanderson

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Virginia led the way in the south, were further exasperated by insults offered at the Privy Council, in London, to their representative, Benjamin Franklin. The immediate effect of the "Boston Tea Party", as it was styled in America, was that, early in 1774, the British Parliament passed measures closing the port of Boston, revoking the charter of Massachusetts, and providing that persons accused of capital crimes should be sent for trial either to England, or to some other colony than that in which the offence was committed. The council of the colony was to be chosen by the Crown, the judges nominated by the governor, and the late rioters were to be sent to England for trial. The Virginia House of Burgesses, for protesting against the treatment of Boston, was again dissolved by the governor, but the leading citizens met at the Raleigh Tavern, in Williamsburg, Virginia, and directed the Committee of Correspondence to propose to the other colonies a general congress.

The colonists were now divided into opponents of the crown as "Whigs", and loyalists, called "Tories". The aspirants after freedom took up the words of Patrick Henry, "Give me liberty or give me death". Bodies of soldiers were formed by the "Whigs", under the name of "minute men", as ready to act in arms at the shortest notice. It is clear that but a spark was needed to explode such a magazine. In September, 1774, a congress representing all the colonies except Georgia assembled at Philadelphia, and agreed upon a "Declaration of Rights", with the adoption of addresses to the people of Great Britain and of the colonies. It does not appear that the idea of independence was yet entertained. A protest against standing armies, without popular consent, was made, and, until the redress of grievances, it was resolved to abandon all commercial intercourse with Great Britain.

Lord North, in 1775, began a policy of concession, which came too late. The colonists were not to be taxed by Parliament, provided they taxed themselves with the approbation of the British king and legislature. Before this news could reach America, the battle of Lexington had been fought. In this running conflict, a body of British troops, sent by General Gage to destroy military stores at Concord, eighteen miles from Boston, was most severely handled by the "minute men" of Massachusetts, and returned with the loss of about three hundred men. One hundred Americans … continue reading »

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