Daily readings about people, places, and events in American history.
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December 16th
The Boston Tea Party
On the co ld, damp night of December 16, 1773, a few dozen colonists wearing old clothing and blacked faces tramped through the streets of Boston toward three ships tied up at Griffin’s Wharf. The Mohawks, as they called themselves, clambered aboard the Dartmouth, the Eleanor, and the Beaver and began hoisting chests of tea from the vessels’ holds onto the decks. Working quietly and efficiently, they carried the chests to the rails, split them open, and dumped the tea into Boston Harbor.

The late-night raid came in response to the Tea Act passed by the British Parliament. That law gave the financially troubled East India Company, a British company, a virtual monopoly on the American tea trade. The Americans were already unhappy that Britain had placed a tax on their tea. Now, they told themselves, Parliament was dictating where they must buy their tea. In the colonists’ eyes, tea had become a symbol of British oppression. So into the harbor went 342 chests.

In less than three hours, the Boston Tea Party was over. Their work done, the “Indians” swept the ships’ decks, bid the crews farewell, and marched into the night whistling “Yankee Doodle.” “Well, boys, you’ve had a fine pleasant evening for your Indian caper, haven’t you?” a British admiral who had watched the entire episode called. “But mind, you have got to pay the fiddler yet!”

Indeed, Boston would be made to pay. George III was outraged at the act of defiance. “We must master them or totally leave them alone!” he declared. Parliament responded with the Intolerable Acts, which, among other measures, closed the port of Boston and required colonists to give lodging to British troops. Infuriated patriots viewed the reprisals as outright tyranny and turned their thoughts toward independence.

American History Parade
1773
Massachusetts colonists stage the Boston Tea Party.

1811
The first of the New Madrid earthquakes, a series of incredibly violent quakes centered near New Madrid, Missouri, occurs.

1835
Fire roars through New York City, destroying approximately 600 buildings.

1944
German forces launch a surprise attack in Belgium, beginning the Battle of the Bulge, Hitler’s last major offensive on the Western Front.

1972
The Miami Dolphins become the first NFL team to go unbeaten and untied in a fourteen-game regular season; they go on to defeat the Redskins in Super Bowl VII.
This content is courtesy of The American Patriot's Almanac
© 2008, 2010 by William J. Bennett and John T.E. Cribb
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