American Revolution Podcast

Episode 039: The Politics of Tea

April 8, 2018

After several years of calm in the colonies, Parliament changes the way tea is distributed and taxed throughout the Empire.  Mostly, this is an attempt to bail out the East India Company which had too much tea and not enough cash.  The Tea Act of 1773 reduced or eliminated almost all taxes on tea, and also allowed the East India Company to sell tea directly to the colonies, rather than having to go through expensive middlemen.  The result would be a massive drop in the price of tea. 

With all duties eliminated accept for a small 3 pence per pound tarriff, tea in the colonies would be much cheaper than ever before.  But the Sons of Liberty feared this was an effort to break the back of the already failing non-importation agreements.  Once colonies accepted this tiny tariff, the precedent would be set to tax the colonies whenever Parliament wanted.

In late 1773, seven ships loaded with tea headed for Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Charleston.  The colonist had barely learned about hte new system before the tea would arrive.  This left everyone guessing what their next step would be.

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