Try a Boston Tea Party in December for a change of pace

Boston is celebrating a Tea Party that took place almost a quarter of a millennium ago and this party could offer a nice break from other December celebrations. On the evening of December 16th the Old South Church and the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum will stage a reenactment of the Boston Tea Party, an act on December 16, 1773, that led directly to the American Revolution.

Image by Caroline Talbot Photography |
Colonials ready to defend their rights. ©Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum

Here’s how it played out. In May, 1773 the Parliament of Britain passed a tax on tea sold in the North American colonies, without any input from the American colonials. Taking the position that they should not be taxed unless they were represented in Parliament, the colonials protested the tax. Then things spiraled out of control. Without hearing a satisfactory response, one of the protest groups — the Sons of Liberty, led by Samuel Adams and others — disguised themselves as Native Americans, boarded one of the tea ships impounded in Boston Harbor, and threw its cargo into the sea. Parliament responded with new laws in 1774 called the Intolerable Acts, self-government in Massachusetts was withdrawn and Boston was occupied by British troops under martial law. Representatives of all of the colonies responded by creating the First Continental Congress to reach a compromise recognizing their rights as British subjects and in April of 1775, at Lexington and Concord first shots were fired and the war was on.

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The Rebels meet at Old South Meeting House. ©Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum

The party on December 16 begins with a Meeting of the Body of the People at the historic Old South Meetinghouse (6:30-7:30 PM) as it did originally. This is a re-creation of the Tea Tax debates that took place in that very hall 244 years ago. Actors in the roles of Sam Adams, John Hancock, Paul Revere and other colonial leaders will debate Loyalist leaders, and visitors can join in the debate. Tickets are required for this part of the event.

From 7:30 to 8:00 PM the public is invited to join in a procession led by fife and drums, from Old South to the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum on the waterfront, following the original route of the disguised Colonials. There the re-enactors will board the Brig Beaver, seize her cargo of tea, break the chests open and dump the tea into the harbor.

Image by Caroline Talbot Photography |
Marching to the Harbor and a Tea Party. ©Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum

The public is invited to join in the march from Old South Meeting House to the harbor and to watch as the casks are emptied into the sea at the harbor, at no cost. But ticket holders have the added benefit of attending the debates in Old South and get reserved seating at the Harbor events.  If you plan to attend and want to participate in the debate and have reserved seats, get your tickets soon, it is a popular event. Oh, and dress warmly, it is cold on the Boston waterfront on December nights.

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Making Tea, Boston Style. ©Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum

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