The Boston Tea Party was an act of resistance against the policies of taxation imposed on the American colonies by Great Britain. It was a deliberate act, unlike many of the demonstrations and riots that had taken place in the months before over such issues as the Stamp Act and the Townshend Act. The dumping of the tea into Boston harbor would also be a strong rallying point for the different elements in colonial society and would be greeted with cheers by the people in and around Boston. Historians have changed their view of the degree to which the Boston Tea party was decisive in propelling the nation toward revolution and of the role played by class differences in the onset of the Revolution.
Prior to the start of the American Revolution, there was considerable class dissension developing in the cities and urban regions alike. In Boston, rich and poor were at odds, with the rich trying to keep the poor humble and the poor showing growing anger toward the rich. The conflict between rich and poor in the countryside was used by political leaders to mobilize the population against England. There were strong social movements in the Northeast aimed at a handful of rich landlords. Land rioters saw the issue as poor against rich. In the northern cities where the key battles were being fought, the colonial leaders had a divided white population. The leaders could win over certain segments of society, classes that were adversely affected by the British. Most of the leadership came from the middle class and well-to-do merchant class, and they were spurred to action by the Stamp Act. Certain British actions were specifically harmful to the working class, such as the impressment and quartering of troops.
The Boston Tea party was planned carefully and carried out by some of the best-known men in Boston:
The Boston Tea Party of December 16, 1773, marks the peak of the resistance of the Massachusetts patriots to the taxati...