Important Dates in US History

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Sheila M. Green
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Important Dates in Boston Tea Party History:

December 16th, 1773 and April 19th, 1775

December 16th, 1773:

On the cold evening of December 16, 1773, a determined group of Patriots disguised as Mohawk Indians burst from the Old South Meeting House in Boston, Massachusetts with the spirit of freedom burning in their eyes. Their destination was Griffin’s Wharf and the three British tea ships harbored there. Quickly, quietly, and orderly, the American colonists, armed with axes and hatchets, boarded each of the ships and destroyed 340 crates of British tea, defiantly dumping the precious cargo into the sea. Thousands of spectators watched in silence. Only the sounds of axe blades splitting wood rang out from Boston Harbor during that still night…the Boston Tea Party was underway and the path to revolution and freedom had begun.  Of the event, British Governor Hutchinson said, “This is the boldest stroke which has yet been struck in America… the body of people have gone too far to recede…and open and general revolt must be the consequence.”

April 19th, 1775:

The American Revolution began at about 5 AM, April 19, 1775. An army of 700 British soldiers, on a mission to capture Patriot leaders and seize a Patriot arsenal, marched into Lexington to find 77 armed Minutemen, commanded by Captain John Parker, waiting for them on the town’s green. British Major John Pitcairn ordered the outnumbered Patriots to disperse, and after a moment’s hesitation, the colonists began to drift off the green. Suddenly, the “shot heard ‘round the world” was fired from an undetermined gun, and a cloud of musket smoke soon covered the green. When the brief Battle of Lexington ended, eight colonists lay dead or dying and ten others were wounded. Only one British soldier was injured, but the American Revolution had begun.

By 1775, tensions between the American colonies and the British government approached the breaking point, especially in Massachusetts, where Patriot leaders formed a shadow revolutionary government and trained militias to prepare for armed conflict with the British troops occupying Boston. In the spring of 1775, General Thomas Gage, the British Governor of Massachusetts, received instructions from England to seize all stores of weapons and gunpowder accessible to the colonial insurgents. On April 18, he ordered British troops to march against the Patriot arsenal at Concord and capture Patriot leaders Samuel Adams and John Hancock, known to be hiding in Lexington.

The Boston Patriots had been preparing for such a military action by the British. Upon learning of the details of the British plan, Patriots Paul Revere and William Dawes set out to rouse the militiamen and warn Adams and Hancock. When the British troops arrived at Lexington, a group of militiamen were waiting.  However, Sam Adams, John Hancock, and Paul Revere had already fled to Philadelphia.