Adams Reacts to the Boston Tea Party
But John Adams was not in town the night of December 16, 1773, when patriots took decisive action and destroyed the tea by dumping it into Boston Harbor. When he returned the very next morning, he was shocked that the Sons of Liberty undertook such a foolhardy course, but was nonetheless pleasantly surprised. “There is a Dignity, a Majesty, a Sublimity, in this the last Effort of the Patriots, that I greatly admire” John Adams recorded in his diary. “I can’t but consider it as an Epocha in History.” Eerily prescient of events to come, John Adams questioned how the British Parliament would respond to such a maneuver. After all, the drowning of the East India tea in saltwater was an “Attack upon Property.” “What measures will the ministry take in consequence of this?” Adams wondered. “Will they punish us? How? By quartering troops upon us?—by annulling our Charter? By laying on more duties? By restraining our Trade?” As time would tell, the British Parliament was intent on reprimanding their intractable colonies in the same way as John Adams predicted.