The Tea Act of 1773 was imposed on the American colonies by the British government, who were heavily in debt, in the decade leading up…
The Tea Act of 1773 was imposed on the American colonies by the British government, who were heavily in debt, in the decade leading up to the American Revolutionary War.
The act was intended to bail out the struggling East India Company, which was very important for the British economy, and the Tea Act would raise revenues from the 13 colonies.
The British East India Company
- Before the Tea Act, the East India Company could only sell tea in London. This exclusive deal meant that the company paid a duty which averaged two shillings and six pence per pound.
- North American merchants were importing tea and make a profit. These merchants could purchase the tea from the Dutch and import it to the colonies, making a profit by marking up the tea. These transactions violated the Navigation Acts and were treated by the British as smuggling.
- Smugglers imported about 900,000 pounds (410,000 kg) of cheap foreign tea every year. Patriots like the Sons of Liberty encouraged people to buy the smuggled tea because, although the quality wasn’t as high as the British tea, it was seen as a political protest against the Townshend taxes.
- Benjamin Franklin was one of several people who suggested the Company be allowed to export their tea tax-free. The act would allow them to cut out the middlemen who were smuggling cheap tea by undercutting their prices. The colonists would pay for the cheaper Company tea and that tea would be subject to the Townshend tax, which would legitimize the British Parliaments ability to tax the colonies.
Provisions of the Tea Act
The Tea Act received royal assent on May 10, 1773. The act contained a number of provisions:
- The East India Company was granted a licence to export tea to North America
- They were no long required to sell their tea at the London Tea Market
- The duties on tea shipped to North America and other foreign parts were not imposed or were refunded when the tea was exported
- Anybody receiving tea from the East India Company were required to pay a deposit upon receipt.
A proposal was made to also waive the Townshend tax on tea but the British Prime Minister, Lord North, opposed the idea because the revenues were used to pay the salaries of crown officials in the colonies.
The Act allowed seventeen million pounds worth of unsold tea that the East India Company owned to be sold to the American colonies at a reduced rate.
The Colonies Response
- Many colonists rejected the Tea Act. People in the colonies were now only able to purchase tea from the Company, and they didn’t like this monopoly. It also validated the Townshend Tax on tea.
- Merchants who had been importing tea would lose their business. The illegal importers of Dutch tea would also be affected, and they combined forced to oppose the Act.
- Opposition to the Tea Act affected imported tea in many colonies. In New York and Philadelphia, protests forced the tea delivered there back to Britain. In Charleston, the colonists left the tea on the docks to rot.
- Over £90,000 of tea was destroyed by colonists at the Boston Tea Party on December 16, 1773. The American colonists protested the British government by boarding 3 trade ships in Boston Harbor and throwing 342 chests of tea into the water. In todays money, that tea would have been worth roughly a million dollars.
Consequences of the 1773 Tea Act
- After the Boston Tea Party, the British enacted the Boston Port Act. The events on December 16, 1773 appalled the British, and, in response, this act completely shut down the Boston Harbor until the dumped tea was paid for.
- It was one of the many causes of the American Revolutionary War. The Boston Port Act was the first of what the British called “Coercive Acts”. The colonists called them Intolerable Acts and these laws that were passed by Parliament in response to the Boston Tea Party eventually led to war.
- The British eventually introduced the Taxation of Colonies Act 1778 to repeal the tea tax. This came too late and was not enough to end the war because the dispute when beyond taxation and the colonies had already declared independence.
Transcript of the Tea Act
Below is a download of the original Tea Act of 1773 transcription:
The Tea Act Worksheets
This bundle includes 11 ready-to-use Tea Act worksheets that are perfect for students to learn about the Tea Act which was imposed on the American colonies by the British government, who were heavily in debt, in the decade leading up to the American Revolutionary war.
This download includes the following worksheets:
- The Tea Act of 1773 Facts
- The Tea Act of 1773 Word Search
- Fact or Bluff
- Sequencing Events
- The Tea Act of 1773 Storyboard
- Cause and Effect
- Painting Analysis
- My Point of View
- The Past and Present
- Poster Making
- The Boston Tea Party
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Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.