Boston Tea Party

Historical protest

archive illustration of men pouring tea into a bound and feathered man's mouth

Boston Tea Party, 1773 © HM Revenue and Customs. Photo archive number 2384

During the 18th century people in Britain reached the point where would not accept any more taxes. But the British government still needed more money. So they turned to one of our colonies, America, and imposed stamp duty. This led to open hostility, and was one of the triggers that helped start the American War of Independence.

The Stamp Act in America (1765) taxed legal transactions (for example deeds and newspapers). However the American public had no right to vote for this, or any other British law, and strongly objected.

An event reflecting this resentment became known as Boston Tea Party (1773), shown in the image above. It shows the shaming of an excise officer. Whilst tea is poured down his throat he is being tarred and feathered. Local residents can be seen throwing tea overboard from a ship in Boston's harbour.