The Boston Tea Party: Causes and Effects

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The Boston Tea Party: Causes and Effects

Part 1: The Boston Tea Party- Reading and Questions

Directions: Read each passage and answer the questions below. You will only be given credit for answers that are written in your own words and in complete sentences. Do not copy directly from the passages!
Despite the hopes of Patriots like Sam Adams, the Boston Massacre did not lead to new protests against British rule. Instead, the repeal of the Townshend Act led to a period of calm. True, there was still a small tax on tea. But the tax didn’t seem to bother Loyalists very much, and Patriots could still buy Dutch tea that had been smuggled into the colonies without paying taxes.
Things did not stay peaceful, however. In 1773, a new law called the Tea Act led to even more protests. One of them was the incident that became known as the Boston Tea Party.


  1. What was the result of the Boston Massacre regarding relations with the British?

  1. Why do you think people like Sam Adams wanted the Boston Massacre to make people protest more intensely against the British?

  1. Why weren’t Patriots very upset about the tax on tea?

The reason Britain passed the Tea Act was to save the British East India Company (BEIC) from going out of business. This company controlled all of the buying and selling of goods between Britain and Asia. For years, the BEIC had made a lot of money for Britain. But the colonists’ boycott of British tea hurt the company. By 1773, the company was in danger of going broke unless it could sell the 17 million pounds of tea that was sitting in its warehouses in London.
The Tea Act benefitted the British East India Company. The Tea Act made the tea that the British East India Company sold in the colonies much cheaper than tea that came from any other country. As a result, even British tea that was taxed was cheaper than smuggled Dutch tea that colonists did not have to pay a tax on. Colonists who made their money by smuggling and selling Dutch tea lost most of their customers, who started buying British tea again because it was so cheap. Additionally, the Tea Act gave the British East India Company complete control over selling tea in the colonies. The only people who could sell British tea had to be chosen by the BEIC.


  1. Why did the British East India Company have so much extra tea just sitting around in its warehouses in London?

  1. What two things did the Tea Act do?

  1. After the Tea Act was passed, colonists could buy tea cheaper than before. Why were some colonists still angry? Were they just whiners, or did they have something legitimate to be angry about?

  1. Many Patriots boycotted (refused to buy) British tea after the Townshend Act put a tax on tea. In a way though, the boycott backfired because it had a negative consequence for colonists that they didn’t plan for. What is the relationship between colonists’ boycott of British tea and the Tea Act?

Even though tea was now cheaper than it was before the Tea Act, colonists were still angry because they saw the Tea Act as yet another attempt by England to control the colonies.

When the British East India Company’s tea ships sailed into American ports, angry protesters prevented some ships from unloading their tea. In Boston, the governor of Massachusetts insisted that the tea ships could not leave until all of their tea was unloaded.
On December 16, 1773, the Sons of Liberty “unloaded” the tea from the ships, but not in the way that the governor had in mind. That night, 50 white men dressed as Native Americans climbed onto 3 British ships. The men took all of the chests of tea and dumped about 90,000 pounds of tea into the water. In today’s money, all of that tea was worth $1 million! News of the Boston Tea Party excited Patriots throughout the colonies.


  1. What did the Sons of Liberty do on the night of December 16, 1773? Describe what happened in your own words.

Back in England, the King was stunned by news of the Boston Tea Party. In the king’s opinion, he had tried to help the colonists by sending them cheap tea. And what did the colonists do? They threw it into the ocean! In the King’s opinion, the colonists had gone too far this time. After the Boston Tea Party, the issue was no longer about taxes for King George. It was about Britain’s control over the colonies. The Boston Tea Party helped convince King George that Britain needed to have much stricter control over the colonies.
British Parliament passed a new group of acts (laws) in 1774. These laws were so harsh that many colonists called them “intolerable,” or unacceptable. Throughout the colonies, they became known as the Intolerable Acts.


  1. Some historians say that the Boston Tea Party was a turning point for King George in the way he thought about the colonies. Why do you think some historians believe this to be true?

  1. Why did colonists call the new group of British laws the “Intolerable Acts”?

The Intolerable Acts were intended to punish Massachusetts for the Boston Tea Party. The first part of the Acts closed Boston Harbor to all shipping until the destroyed tea was paid for. The second part put the government of Massachusetts under British control. The third part said that British soldiers who were accused of murder would have their trial in England, not in the colonies. The fourth part of the Intolerable Acts said that more British troops would be sent to Boston to enforce these new laws.
A few British leaders worried that the Intolerable Acts might push the colonies into rebellion. But King George disagreed. He was convinced that the Intolerable Acts would force the colonists to give in to British authority.


In your own words, state what each part of the Intolerable Acts said. You don’t have to use complete sentences for this part.

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The Intolerable Acts did not force the colonists to give in to British authority. Patriots in Boston said that they would “abandon their city to flames” before paying for the lost tea. Merchants in other cities showed their support by closing their shops. Many colonies sent food and money to Boston by horse so that its citizens would not starve. With Boston Harbor closed to shipping, there was no way to get food in by boat!
In Virginia, lawmakers made a formal statement supporting Massachusetts. The Virginians said that, “An attack made on one of our sister colonies is an attack made on all of the colonies.” The Virginians also called for a congress, or meeting, of representatives from all 13 colonies. The purpose of the congress would be to find a peaceful solution to the conflicts with Great Britain.


In 140 characters or less, express how a Patriot would feel about the Intolerable Acts. Use hashtags and be creative!!

Part 2: Boston Tea Party Causes & Effects

Directions: Use the info on pages 2-5 to complete this graphic organizer. Write the CAUSES of the Boston Tea Party in the box on the top. Then write the EFFECTS of the Boston Tea Party in the box on the bottom. You must write at least TWO causes and TWO effects in the graphic organizer. You don’t need to write in complete sentences for this part. 

Causes of the Boston Tea Party

The Boston Tea Party

Effects of the Boston Tea Party

Part 3: Evaluate the Boston Tea Party (Make a Claim!)

Directions: Answer the following questions in complete sentences.

  1. Do you think the Boston Tea Party was an effective method of protest? Explain your answer using specific facts from this packet.

  1. What is another way that the colonists could have protested the Tea Act? Do you think this way of protesting would have been more effective or less effective than the Boston Tea Party? Why?

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