Executed by the Sons of Liberty 243 years ago today, The Boston Tea Party was the political protest that began the trend towards the American Revolution. Frustrated about paying taxation without representation, the Sons and their men, some in disguise, boarded ships and dumped their tea cargo into Boston Harbor.
That much we know. But from there, much of the who-what-why of it all can get criss-crossed. The Journal of the American Revolution has a great list of myths and what’s going on behind them. In his November 2013 article, Benjamin L. Carp laid out and investigated 7 interesting myths back. For example, about that “Boston Tea Party” in 1773:
The earliest known reference to the phrase “Boston Tea Party” comes from a newspaper story on December 30, 1825. At a dinner celebrating the landing of the Pilgrims, W. P. Hawes offered the following toast: “The Boston Tea-party—May tyrants and oppressors throughout the world be speedily invited to a like entertainment.”[ii] Then shortly afterward in 1826, another story mentioned “a temperate, hardy old veteran” named Joshua Wyeth who “often boasts of the ‘Boston tea party.’”[iii] Initially the phrase may have referred to the party of men who dumped the tea, not the event itself. An 1829 obituary of Nicholas Campbell reported that he “was one of the ever memorable Boston Tea Party.”[iv] For the first fifty-three years afterward, people referred to the events of December 16, 1773, as “the destruction of the tea in Boston harbor,” or something similar.
Mr. Carp cites all his findings and it’s a great list, check it out here.