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From the “Talking History with Benjamin L. Carp” Video Series – Webisode 1

In this first in an ongoing series, Professor Benjamin L. Carp, noted Revolutionary War scholar and author of Defiance of the Patriots tells the full story of the Boston Tea Party. Exploding myths, exploring the unique city life of Boston in the Colonial Era, and placing facts about the Boston Tea Party in a global context for the first time.


Speaking: Professor Benjamin L. Carp
Caption text provided by Google/Youtube “Automatic Captions”*

I think people have a lot of misconceptions about the Boston tea party

some of them were about small inconsequential details

may be some of them were about the larger concepts for instance a lot of people think in a somewhat simple way that the tea party is simply a tax revolt

well it turns out that its a little bit more complicated than that completely

the tax on tea was passed back in 1767 anti tea act of 1773 was actually going to come up with ways to make tea cheaper for Americans

also i would be objective at it’s not as if they were going to be paying more so why would you object to it on that basis

they’re worried that the tea act of 1773 and the Townsend act of seventeen 1767 we’re going to set a bad precedent

they were also worried about where that tax money was going it was going it was going to pay the salaries of the governor the lieutenant governor some of the judges from the supreme court

previously the way the law had worked with those salaries were paid by the Massachusetts house of representatives

that made them accountable to the people of Massachusetts instead that money is coming from the royal treasury directly from parliament

these civil officials in Massachusetts were going to be accountable to parliament instead and that was something that to the Americans really didn’t want

but one of the other issues with the tea act was that the east India company a company is now going to be able to send tea directly to America

this was a monopoly company it didn’t have a monopoly on American trade

but again this looked like it might set a precedent for having a monopoly company acting within the American market and crowding out American merchants

and their contacts in great Britain and this was something else that the Americans who are worried about

if the British government can establish a monopoly on the American tea trade what other types of commodities might they start monopolized

Americans loved British goods the were eager for British goods but they didn’t want to end up in a situation where British companies can

charge whatever prices they wanted for these necessary goods and luxury goods like tea

This is really difficult to think about

when the Americans were thinking about boycotts they were thinking that of them in terms of their own virtue

so they are thinking oh well we don’t need to you know luxury goods

from great Britain we’re going to be self-reliant and self-sufficient they convince themselves of this

but at the same time simultaneously they are convicted to luxury goods right to

use has caffeine it’s literally addictive um… and there are plenty of other British goods that

maybe no one necessarily needs…certain draperies…fancy clothing

they don’t need these things from…from great Britain but on the other hand

they’re trying to participate in the middle class lifestyle they’re trying to

live the good life and tea and fancy clothing are really a part of that so by

the americans have kind of mixed feelings about boycotts on the one hand

they really don’t want to give up these things but on the other hand they’d like

to believe about themselves that they can give up these things


*Please note that Google/Youtube “Automatic Captions” may not have captured the content of the speaker(s) on this video accurately. Please report any errors you find on this website via the contact us form.

Professor Benjamin L. Carp Profile Picture

Professor Benjamin L. Carp

Benjamin L. Carp is an associate professor of early American history at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. He has written about firefighters and the American Revolution, nationalism in Revolutionary America and the Civil War South, cities and the American Revolution, and the Boston Tea Party. He grew up in Woodmere, New York....

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