Boston Tea Party Etiquette

Today’s post is written by Monique Politowskiand is part of her ongoing series on the Federalists.

Today is the 238th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party.  On December 16, 1773, men dressed as Native Americans and wearing disguises, destroyed British owned tea by throwing it into the water of Griffin’s Wharf in Boston.  Archives II has a copy of a lithograph by Sarony & Major that provides a 19th century visual interpretation of the event (ARC ID 532892):

There were over one hundred participants in the destruction of the tea, and one of them was Nathanael Greene, George Washington’s most trusted general.  Their military partnership is documented in the Letters from Major General Nathanael Greene, 1776-1785 (ARC ID 2505358) and in Letters of Nathanael Greene, with Various Papers Relating to the Quartermaster’s Department, 1778-1780 (ARC ID 2509813).  It was not easy to connect Greene directly to the campaign because his name is commonly misspelled as “Nathaniel.” It is rude not to give proper credit where credit is due, and that is why he is being recognized in this post as a contributor to one of the most famous American protests.  The Boston Tea Party was a symbolic milestone on the road to the American Revolution, and Great Britain’s implementation of the Coercive Acts in response to the destroyed tea prompted the organization of the First Continental Congress.  It seemed that the difference between established British tea etiquette and emerging American etiquette became significant after the “Tea Party.”

The Papers of the Continental Congress (ARC ID 1938489) and the Miscellaneous Papers of the Continental Congress (ARC ID 301686) contain Greene’s correspondence with Federalists John Jay and Alexander Hamilton during the Revolution regarding resolutions of Congress concerning military transport, personnel, and the funds needed to support the war.

Images courtesy of NARA’s digitization partner, fold3.

Other later correspondence by Jay and Hamilton within these collections discusses commerce with Britain, most importantly the tea trade.

2 thoughts on “Boston Tea Party Etiquette

  1. Is it a case of mistaken identity? I have sources that disagree. Perhaps we should collaborate to find out once and for all.

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