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The Tea Act of 1773 was imposed on the American colonies by the British government who was 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 revenue from the 13 colonies.
See the fact file below for more information on the Tea Act of 1773 or alternatively, you can download our 20-page Tea Act of 1773 worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- After the Seven Years’ War (1756 to 1763), Britain greatly expanded its empire. However, it also caused massive national debt due to the costs of war. To rebuild the economy and achieve stability, the British government saw the American colonies as a source of revenue.
- In 1765, the Stamp Act was passed by the British Parliament and imposed on the American colonies. It levied a tax on printed materials produced and used inside the 13 colonies.
- In response, the colonists rejected the implementation of the new tax and began to fight for no to “taxation without representation”, arguing its unconstitutionality. When the British Parliament denied their request, the colonists resorted to mob violence and boycotted the stamp tax.
- The following year, Parliament repealed the act.
- After repealing the Stamp Act, Parliament then passed the Townshend Act in 1767, which placed a tax of goods imported to the Americas, including paper, tea, glass, and paint. Like the Stamp Act, the colonists showed displeasure over the new act and responded by boycotting imported goods.
- By 1770, Parliament repealed duties on a number of goods under the Townshend Act, except the tax on tea. Many colonists resorted to drinking cheaper Dutch tea, which was illegally imported.
- As a result, the revenue of the East India Company fell, which also troubled the British Parliament.
- North American merchants were importing tea from the Dutch and making a much bigger profit because it was cheaper, they paid no duties on it and were, therefore, able to keep the markup they placed on it. These transactions violated the Navigation Acts, however, 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.
PROVISIONS OF THE TEA ACT
- Facing trouble in the American colonies, in 1773, the British Parliament passed the Tea Act. It allowed the East India Company to directly ship tea to the colonies without passing England. This way, duties were reduced and resulted in the cheaper price of English tea in the colonies.
- 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 Parliament’s ability to tax the colonies.
- 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 longer 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 nor refunded when the tea was exported.
- Anybody receiving tea from the East India Company was required to pay a deposit upon receipt.
- A proposal was made to 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 joined forces to oppose the Act.
- Opposition to the Tea Act affected imported tea in many colonies. In New York and Philadelphia, for example, protests forced the tea delivered there to be sent 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 today’s money, that tea would have been worth roughly £7,85 million.
CONSEQUENCES OF THE 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, however, and was not enough to end the war because the dispute extended beyond taxation and the colonies had already declared independence.
Tea Act of 1773 Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Tea Act of 1773 across 20 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Tea Act of 1773 worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Tea Act of 1773 which was imposed on the American colonies by the British government who was 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 revenue from the
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Tea Act of 1773 Facts
- Sequencing Events
- Tea Act Storyboard
- Cause and Effect
- In Painting
- Point of View
- Past and Present
- Poster Making
- Colonial Taxes
- Understanding Taxes
- The Boston Tea Party
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Use With Any Curriculum
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