A Family’s Relic of the Founding Generation
In the early morning of December 17, 1773, 15-year old John Robinson walked the shoreline near Dorchester Heights, just outside of Boston. It was the morning after over 90,000 pounds of East India Company tea had been dumped into Boston Harbor. As the water, thick with tea leaves, gently lapped ashore, Robinson’s eye caught sight of a wood chest partially buried in the sand. It was a simple chest, dark green and small in size – 10” high, 13 1/16’ wide, 11 7/8” deep – made of ½” thick wood.
His heart must have raced when he saw it, for John Robinson would have known what all of Boston knew – just hours earlier, in the dark of night, a band of men loosely disguised as Indians struck an act of defiance against British authority. Well aware of the consequences, but motivated perhaps by youthful daring, John picked up the partially buried chest and took it home.
Two hundred thirty-nine years later, young John’s find, one of only two known surviving tea chests from the Boston Tea Party, and known now as the Robinson Half Chest, is on display in the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum in Boston.