The Tea Act 1773 was an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain. It was passed to help the financially strapped British East India Company and to help them reduce the massive amounts of tea in their London warehouses.
The Tea Act which was enacted in April of 1773, gave the East India Company a virtual monopoly on the importation and sale of tea in the American colonies. England had been victorious in the Seven Years War but now the country too was massively in debt. Parliament looked to the American colonies to ease their debt.
First, they passed the Stamp Act in 1765. The colonists rebelled against paying it, eventually resorting to mob violence to prevent paying for this tax which the colonists considered “taxation without representation” which would be repeated again. Eventually, Parliament would repeal the Stamp Act in 1766.
A year later Charles Townshend, Chancellor of the Exchequer, in charge of the government’s collection of revenues passed the Townshend Revenue Act. Townshend’s act placed taxes on a number of goods imported into the colonies, including tea, glass, paper, and paint.
The thought was to tax the colonies to pay for the salaries of the Colonial governors. Once again the colonists rebelled against this. The colonies had already paid for the governor’s salaries from the elected assemblies of each colony. This gave them a modicum of power over the King’s governors which if the money was coming from Parliament would erase that.
The colonists were outraged and organized boycotts of all of the imported goods. That too was successful and Parliament rescinded all of the Townshend Acts in 1770 except the tax on tea which the English believed showed their right to tax the colonies.
The boycott of goods was over but the issue of the tea was a sticky one between the British authorities and the colonists. While many of the colonists refused to drink tea out of principle, many others were buying tea from the Dutch as it was much cheaper than the tea from the East India Company. Part of the Tea Act’s purpose was to undercut the price of illegal Dutch tea, thus bailing out the East India Company and putting a stamp on Parliament’s right of taxation to the colonies.
It was granting the East India Company a monopoly along with their brokers of selling tea in the colonies. Many of the brokerage firms selling the tea were either fully or partially owned by the colonial.governors, which further inflamed many already hot-headed colonists including many from Massachusetts. In the Bay State Colony, a group of firebrands called the “Sons of Liberty” was a secret society tha