In the early 1760s, the British government began taxing the colonists’ imports of products such as sugar, coffee, and paper. Many colonists felt the taxes were unfair because the English Bill of Rights stated that citizens could not be taxed without having their own representatives in the British Parliament. The colonists argued that there should be no taxation without representation.
By December 1773, American colonists’ anger with the British government intensified with the passing of the Tea Act. Tea was a favorite drink in the colonies. Rather than pay the tax, many colonists refused to drink British tea. The British began to ship low-priced tea to the colonies to encourage colonists to continue buying tea from Britain. Even with the tax, purchasing British tea would be less expensive than smuggling tea into the colonies from other countries. This alarmed many colonial leaders. They feared that the British government was trying to tempt colonists into paying the taxes that they so strongly opposed.
When three ships arrived in Boston Harbor carrying this inexpensive tea, the colonists refused to let the British sailors unload their cargo. American colonists demanded that the ships return to Britain. However, the British were determined to unload the tea. On the night of December 16, 1773, a group of colonists, including Samuel Adams and other members of the Sons of Liberty, dressed as Native Americans and boarded one of the tea ships. The group threw more than 300 crates of tea overboard into Boston Harbor. This event became known as the Boston Tea Party.
The British government viewed the colonists’ behavior as an act of open rebellion. The government was determined to stifle the uprising. The result was the passage of the Intolerable Acts. All of these British acts further angered the colonists and eventually led to the American Revolution.