Boston Tea Party Studies Weekly Activity

Connections: People at the Party

Connecting The People and Events of the Past

When studied as isolated events, history may seem like it is only about dead people and dates. But Studies Weekly helps you bring history to life by making connections between people and events.

History can be very exciting and energizing when looked through the eyes of those who lived it. They had families, friends, and social networks just as we have today. They didn’t know how things would turn out, but made decisions and actions according to the knowledge they had at the time.

In these Connections articles, we will share additional information for people and/or events introduced in the Student Edition, to help you show students the connections between the people and events they are learning about.

People at the Party

The Boston Tea Party of 1773 is a well known event in history. Men destroyed the tea from the East India Tea Company by throwing it into the harbor. This public act of civil disobedience was an inspiration for other civil protests.

They called themselves patriots because they were protesting the British government’s tea tax. Tea was the number one drink of choice in the colonies in America. It was served multiple times throughout the day, and was the center of a colonial family’s life. The colonists felt taxing it was a declaration against their lifestyle.

While time can give participants anonymity, primary source records indicate who was involved in the Boston Tea Party. While the new Studies Weekly Social Studies curriculum introduces students to this event and the people of the revolution in weeks 13, 14, and 16 of fifth grade, here is even more information about the people behind the events.

Thomas Hutchinson, American Revolution

Massachusetts colonial governor Thomas Hutchinson

Thomas Hutchinson was born and raised in Massachusetts. He served in the royal government for many years, and was the governor of the Massachusetts colony in the 1770’s. He lived in Boston, and as governor, supervised the customs officials who collected the taxes on tea.

Samuel Adams and John Hancock were colonial leaders in Boston. The two men met with Governor Hutchinson to discuss policies and events, and the three men were known as friends. Unknown to Hutchinson, though, Adams and Hancock were also the leaders of the secret group of citizens called the “Sons of Liberty.” Those who were anti-British rule made up the membership of the Sons of Liberty.

George Hewes was a shoemaker by trade, but not a wealthy man. Still, Hewes was active in the Sons of Liberty. Throughout the Spring of 1770, George Hewes and his comrades were in conversations with Adams and Hancock about the British presence in Boston.

On March 5, 1770, Hewes was in the group of citizens that harassed the British soldiers in front of the Customs House on King Street. The group of soldiers fired into the crowd, killing five and injuring others, including George Hewes. When Governor Thomas Hutchinson arrived at the scene, Sons of Liberty leaders implored him to remove the troops.

Hewes recovered from his injuries but harbored no great love for the British authorities. After the tea tax was put in place, Hewes participated in the plan for disposing tea into the harbor. In his autobiography, Hewes recounted how he and others wore disguises and carried hatchets. Hewes went up to the captain of the ship and demanded the keys to the cargo hold, so the men could dispense the crates into the harbor. Only the tea was destroyed, and no tea was stolen or consumed. No ship was harmed.

Hewes commented that no one spoke as they worked. When the task was complete, the men dispersed and went home.

John Malcolm

John Malcolm is seized by an unruly crowd in Boston, lifted into a cart and from there pulled up to a window with ropes. Engraving by F. Godefroy.

John Malcolm was a customs officer in Boston in 1773. Malcolm was a strong loyalist and was loud in his support to his neighbors and fellow Bostonians. Malcolm was not able to collect tax on the destroyed tea, or earn a commission..

In January 1774, Malcolm was in the street verbally abusing and threatening a young boy. Hewes stopped and argued with Malcolm, and the argument escalated to physical altercation. Malcolm struck Hewes in the head with a cane, rendering him unconscious. A crowd who knew Hewes gathered and began to turn on Malcolm.

Malcolm retreated to his home. Dr. Joseph Warren checked Hewes’ injury, and shared the information with the Sons of Liberty. By evening, a crowd assembled outside Malcolm’s house, escalating into a mob. They removed Malcolm from his home, and abused and tortured him for hours after tarring and feathering him.

Malcolm’s recovery was slow. He described his experience in newspapers throughout Boston, and met with Governor Hutchinson to demand the Sons of Liberty be charged and tried. But Malcolm eventually was made to resign from the royal government.

Tensions in Boston rose until Governor Hutchinson was also removed from office by the British government. General Thomas Gage replaced the governor and enforced military rule.

These altercations and actions led to the American Revolution.

References:

http://www.boston-tea-party.org/account-george-hewes.html 

https://www.jstor.org/stable/1918907 

http://www.boston-tea-party.org/participants/george-hewes.html 

https://emergingrevolutionarywar.org/2017/01/18/the-epic-tarring-and-feathering-of-john-malcom/ 

https://www.gilderlehrman.org/history-resources/spotlight-primary-source/british-view-rebellious-boston-1774 

https://www.colonialsociety.org/node/638

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