why did colonists object to the tea act

why did colonists object to the tea act

Why Did Colonists Object to the Tea Act?

George Greenville introduced the Tea Act of 1773 as a way to reduce the financial troubles of the British East India Company (EIC). Aftere three years of trying to navigate the huge debt problems the EIC had incurred, the Tea Act was born.

Unfortunately, the Tea Act had further reaching implications than just helping out the EIC. These unanticipated ramifications sparked a protest in the thirteen colonies known as the Boston Tea Party. To understand why the colonists were so upset and affected that they acted out in a rebellion, it is important to understand the facts behind the Tea Act.

Direct Impact on the Colonists

The Tea Act enabled the EIC to directly ship their own tea to the American colonies. This bypassed the expensive American merchants, who were the middlemen between the EIC and the colonies, and also allowed the EIC to sue out the indirect taxes on tea in Europe.

In addition to bypassing American merchants, the EIC could sell its tea in the American colonies at a price the American merchants could not compete with. In order to meet the price the EIC was selling the tea for, the American merchants would need to lower their own prices and take a loss, something they couldn’t afford to do.

Opposition to the East India Company

The EIC had become a hated corporation in the eyes of the colonists. The company had historically been very expensive and exploitative. The Tea Act was seen as an effort for the EIC to return to this exploitative, oppressive status. Even though the Tea Act was designed to help the EIC, the colonists were very upset about the monopolization of the tea market and the fact that the EIC could dictate prices.

The colonists were already concerned about their independence from the British and this Tea Act was seen as a threat to that independence. This made the Tea Act the perfect target for a demonstration of opposition to the British.

The Combination of Effects

When all of these different implications of the Tea Act are combined, it’s much easier to understand why the colonists were so opposed to it.

Here is what the Tea Act meant for the colonists:

  • The EIC could directly ship its tea to the American colonies and undercut American merchants
  • The EIC could dictate the price of tea at these lower prices, meaning the colonists would be forced to pay whatever the company wanted and would not have a choice in the matter
  • The EIC was demanding they pay the still-imposed Townshend duties on tea and was generally viewed as a very oppressive and exploitative company

These factors combined all added to the colonists’ suspicion and distrust of the EIC and helped fuel the opposition to the Tea Act, as evidenced by the Boston Tea Party.

The Tea Act was truly the straw that broke the camel’s back, resulting in the American Revolution.


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