The Tea Act
The Tea Act was a 1773 law proposed by the British government, designed to reduce the massive tea surplus in Britain and to increase revenue for the East India Company. The Tea Act was seen as an oppressive measure by the American colonies, and it caused a stir of opposition that resulted in the Boston Tea Party of December 16th 1773.
What it Entailed
The main points of the Tea Act were as follows:
- The East India Company was granted a monopoly on the tea trade between England and the American colonies.
- The Tea Act reduced or eliminated the tax typically collected on tea in the colonies, meaning tea became cheaper.
- The East India Company was permitted to store tea in the colonies before it was sold, meaning it no longer had to be transported at the Company’s expense.
- Colonial merchants and traders were prohibited from buying tea from any entity other than the East India Company and their agents, meaning their business would be significantly affected.
The Impact of the Tea Act
The effect of the Tea Act was to frustrate the American colonists, who strongly opposed the law as an oppressive measure by the British government. The taxation of the colonies without their consent was deemed to be illegal and a breach of natural rights, and the Tea Act was seen as a way for the government to permanently entrench the highly unpopular tea tax upon the colonies without their permission.
The resulting protest was the Boston Tea Party, where colonists boarded and destroyed three British merchant ships loaded with tea. This act of defiance sparked the American Revolutionary War, in which the colonies declared their independence from Britain in 1776.