British Parliament enacted the Port Act in reprisal for the Boston Tea Party in March 1774. The first of the “Intolerable Acts,” the Port Act closed Boston harbor to all shipping until payment for the destroyed tea was made. In May, two additional “Intolerable Acts” forbade public meetings in Massachusetts unless sanctioned by the royal governor and transferred any trial of a British official accused of a capital offense to England or another colony.
To protest the Tea Act, Boston colonists staged the Boston Tea Party. Disguised as Mohawk Indians, a group of approximately 150 protesters boarded three tea ships in Boston harbor and emptied 342 chests of tea worth 18,000 pounds sterling into the water.
Samuel Adams (1722–1803), born in Boston and educated at Harvard, became a major figure in the resistance against British policies such as the Stamp Act, Sugar Act, and Townshend Duties in the 1760s, when he founded the Sons of Liberty with John Hancock. In 1772, Adams (a cousin to John Adams) established the first Committee of Correspondence in Boston to coordinate resistance to the British. Other such committees soon formed across the colonies, creating a network to share information among revolutionaries. Adams was also a coordinator of...
Boston was a hotbed of Revolutionary activity and protest. As one of the largest cities and most important ports in the colonies, Boston was a center of political and economic activity. Many major events of the Revolution took place there, including Stamp Act protests, the Boston Massacre of 1770, and the Boston Tea Party of 1773. In 1776, the British army and loyalists evacuated Boston, leaving the city in patriot control for the rest of the war.
Carol Berkin, Presidential Professor of History at Baruch College and the CUNY Graduate Center, contrasts the popular memory of the Revolutionary War with its more complicated realities. She argues that although many of us were taught in school that American support for the Revolution was passionate and unified, it would be better for students to learn that America has always been diverse and that colonists had their own strong political divisions.
In the years leading up to the American Revolution, both the British and the colonists used broadsides to influence public opinion. This broadside, “The Bostonian’s Paying the Excise-man, or Tarring & Feathering,” printed in London in 1774, is a British depiction of the Bostonians’ treatment of a British customs officer, John Malcom.