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The Boston Tea Party - an act of Terrorism?

Info: 1918 words (8 pages) Essay
Published: 13th Aug 2021 in History

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The Boston Tea party is a well known event in American history that lead to the American Revolution, which helped gain independence for American Citizens and Terrorism is a popular issue across the world in particular here in America with the 9/11 attacks and the bombing of Pearl Harbor. What is the definition of Terrorism? And is it possible that the Boston Tea Party is connected to Terrorism? Given all the facts the Boston Tea Party is considered an act of terrorism from an historical basis we can apply it to terrorism and the world today.

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Tea was popular in American colonies so popular that Americans consumed 1.2 million pounds of tea each year1[i]. Citizens enjoyed tea as an everyday beverage however England noticed how admired tea was among colonists, so they decided to tax tea to make more profit off it. Colonist were outraged by the tax because it made it more expensive for them to buy, so in response to this issue colonist’s decided to smuggle tea from Holland. The English Parliament knew what was going on so in 1767 Parliament passed the indemnity act which made English tea the same price as Dutch tea. This thrilled colonist as they thought tea would be cheap again, but Parliament passed the Townshend acts in 1767 which meant Tea would be taxed yet again.

After years of protesting and objection to these acts, Parliament decided to pass the Tea Act of 1773 this permitted English East India Company to sell Tea in the American Colonies at cheap prices but this didn’t stop the tax on the Tea itself. On Sunday November 28th the Dartmouth arrived in Boston Harbor. The ship was loaded with East India Company tea and duty was payable the moment the tea was landed. If the duty was not paid within twenty days of the ships arrival, the authorities could seize both the cargo and the ship. The deadline for paying the tax was midnight December 16th. 2[ii]

The second tea ship the Eleanor arrived in Boston on December 2nd and the third tea ship the Beaver arrived on December 7th. For weeks colonists have been hosting meetings at the Old South Meeting House to figure out what they were going to do with all of the tea. On December 16th the event known as the Boston Tea party had started. Within the hours of six and seven o clock 1,000 colonist’s rushed to the wharf where the three boats were docked, The Colonists were all variety of ages ranging from teens to forty years old, a number of the people were dressed up as Narragansett Indians, why they chose Indians is unknown, colonists assumed it was for their own protection and good. The Colonists took control of all three boats and all of the guards on the boats. They took all of the Tea and dumped it all out in the ocean it took them three hours to throw over 18,000 pounds of tea into the ocean except for the tea that might of fell in their shoes. Samuel Adams claims “it was a success.”

Because of slow transport times, England did not receive news of the Boston Tea Party until January 1774. The British government made their official announcement two months later and embarked on an effort to crack down on the rowdy colonists. On April 1, 1774, the officials closed the port of Boston. Four new regiments of British soldiers arrived in Boston. General Thomas Gage replaced Thomas Hutchinson as governor, and Benjamin Franklin, who at the time represented Massachusetts, was criticized in Parliament for spreading material that showed outgoing governor Hutchinson in a poor light.

The Intolerable Acts was passed in 1774 and is also known as the Coercive Acts represented another attempt by the British government to make an example out of Massachusetts. The Intolerable Acts were actually made up of several laws that gave British authorities more power over the colonists and limited the colonists’ ability to obtain more domination. The Massachusetts Government Act revoked the colony’s charter and made it a crown colony with fewer rights; The Boston Port Bill closed the Boston Harbor. The Administration of Justice Act permitted British officials that were charged with serious crimes to have their trials take place in Britain or a different colony. Finally, Parliament passed a revision of the Quartering Act, which authorized British soldiers to stay in colonists’ homes.

Within twelve months after the Boston Tea Party the Colonists became convinced that their very freedom was at risk, and the rulers of Great Britain finished with equal confidence that the Americans were in open rebellion. As George III once said of the New England Colonies in November 1774, “blows must decide whether they are to be subject to this country or independent.” During the winter of 1774-1775 colonists stocked up on gun powder and went into military training, while British troops stationed in America prepared for the worst. With both sides more enthusiastic to fight than to compromise because of this an armed conflict became expected. In April 1775, just sixteen months after the Boston Tea Party, the American War of Independence began on with the battle of Lexington.

The fight for independence was a massive issue back in the 1700’s and the war against terrorism is a big issue. A big question that is raised among historians is: Is the Boston Tea Party an act on terrorism? According to Webster’s Dictionary Terrorism is defined as: the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion. The United States Department of Defense defines terrorism as “the calculated use of unlawful violence or threat of unlawful violence to inculcate fear; Terrorism can also be considered a crime that terrorizes someone from another country. People may argue that the Boston Tea Party is not considered an act of terrorism because they did not commit any murders and it was more of an illegal fight for freedom, because it involved stealing and vandalizing property by dumping all of that tea in the ocean.

Even though the colonists involved in the Boston Tea Party they did not kill anybody, they still “hijacked” a boat and terrorized the parliament and the guards on the boat. In the defense of the people guarding the boat even though the people who raided the boat were Americans, in their view they just see a bunch of Indians trying to take control of the boat having no idea who what they are planning to do, they put fear into the Britons, they “terrorized them” which terrorized can form in to the word terrorism. If this incident happened in this decade exactly how it happened back then it will be considered an act of terrorism because of everything that happened on 9/11 it would get people scared and it would be treated different now than it was back then. Since 9/11 anytime someone says a threat or a pilot accidentally crashes a plane into a building, the first question that is shown in the headlines “Is this an act of terrorism?”

People who read the Boston Tea Party only know what happened on that bone chilling night but what those people do not know is the incidents that happened before the night of December 16th 1973. Ann Hulton who wrote a account about the battle of Lexington said that in 1770 when Bostonians were extremely angry against the British tax, they were dressed as Indians and marched out into the country from Boston and smashed all the windows in her brother’s house, they had blackened their faces for the deed, and wore white nightcaps and white stockings, Ann also believes that some of those Bostonians probably joined more citizens in staging the Boston Tea party.

When The Boston Tea Party first occurred it was not considered an act of terrorism because the people of the 1700’s did not understand what terrorism was, but with all of the incidents that have happened in twentieth and twenty-first century, in some way the Boston Tea Party can relate to terrorism today.

On September 11, 2001 is a day that no American will ever forget. It started on a beautiful Tuesday morning and Americans were going to work like they would on any normal day, and the citizens of New York city were going to their job at the world trade center most prominently knows as the twin towers. Approximately at 8:45 am a plane crashed into one of the twin towers, news teams traveled immediately to the scene figuring out it was just a plane accident and nothing more, but during the live news casts a second plane had hit the second tower and from that point forward Americans got an idea that it was an attack against the U.S. It was a rough site to see for Americans watching fellow citizens jumping out of the building for dear safety and all people could do is just sit there and watched what was happening after the attacks one more plane hit the pentagon and another plane was targeted for the white house, but the people on that flight fought with terrorists on that plane and because of their heroic acts they crashed the plane out in Pennsylvania saving the white house.

9/11 was the most recent terrorist attack that had happened in America which was caused by people from another country, but the most recent attack involving an own American was the Oklahoma City bombing that took place on April 19, 1995.

Timothy McVeigh bombed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. McVeigh’s truck bomb, was made of fertilizer and diesel fuel, when the bomb went off it killed 168 people in an instant which 19 of them were children, and it also injured more than 500 others. Television coverage burned the tragedy into the nation’s mind with terrifying images of bodies being removed from the wreckage. The mass murderer turned out to be a 27-year-old decorated U.S. Army veteran of the Persian Gulf War with extreme antigovernment views. McVeigh’s motive was to avenge a bloody April 19, 1993 federal raid on the Branch Davidian sect in Waco, Tex., in which 80 people died. The FBI tracked McVeigh down through the Ryder rental truck that exploded in Oklahoma City. An accomplice, Terry Nichols, was implicated through a receipt for fertilizer and a getaway map linked to the blast. The FBI also searched unsuccessfully for an unidentified “John Doe” suspect whom eyewitnesses placed at the crime scene.

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This phantom suspect, and the trials of McVeigh and Nichols which both of them pleaded not guilty started to make people think it was becoming a large conspiracy. But prosecutors maintained the men acted alone, and both were convicted. McVeigh was sentenced to death, and eventually admitted he carried out the strike. Nichols was sentenced to life in prison for his role. Just five days before McVeigh was scheduled to die, his case took a final dramatic turn. The FBI admitted it had withheld 3,135 documents from McVeigh’s lawyers. The execution was briefly postponed. But on June 11 2001, ironically just three months before September 11th in Terre Haute, Ind., McVeigh was put to death by lethal injection. Through a grant of special permission by the U.S. Attorney General, victims and survivors watched the execution on local access television in Oklahoma City.

This was considered the biggest terrorist attack on US soil until September 11th had happened.


[i] 1

[ii] 2 Old South Meeting House. (1999). Retrieved December 06, 2009 from Boston Tea Party: http://www.oldsouthmeetinghouse.org/​osmh_123456789files/​bostonteapartybegan.aspx.


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