Tea Act of 1773 Summary

May 10, 1773

On May 10, 1773 the British Parliament enacted the Tea Act of 1773.

Lord North, Portrait

Lord North was Prime Minister when the Tea Act was passed. Image Source: Wikipedia.


Summary of the Tea Act of 1773

As a result of colonial protests, in 1770, Parliament repealed the Townshend duties, except for the tax on tea. The colonists responded by boycotting British tea and drinking smuggled tea.

By 1773, the British East India Company was in financial distress due in part to the colonial boycott and access to smuggled tea. The company had a large surplus of tea it needed to sell. In order to help the company sells its surplus tea, Parliament passed the Tea Act.

The Tea Act gave the British East India Company a monopoly on the importation of tea into the colonies. It allowed the company to sell the tea at a low cost, which undercut colonial merchants. The company was also allowed to handpick the merchants — or consignees — that would sell the tea in the colonies.

Parliament retained the tax on tea to maintain the principle that the British government had the authority to tax the colonies, but the Tea Act did not add any new taxes to tea or other products. Colonists resented the act because it maintained the British position that Britain could tax the colonies without granting them representation in Parliament.


Significance of the Tea Act of 1773

The Tea Act of 1773 was significant because it led to outrage in Colonial America that created the Tea Crisis. There were demonstrations and protests held throughout the colonies. In some ports, the ships that brought tea to the colonies were not allowed to land and were sent back to Britain. However, in Boston, Governor Thomas Hutchinson allowed the ships into the harbor, but the Sons of Liberty blocked the crews from offloading the cargo. This led to the Boston Tea Party on December 16, 1773.

Impact of the Tea Act of 1773 on the American Revolutionary War

The Tea Act had an impact on the American Revolutionary War because Parliament responded to the Boston Tea Party by passing the Coercive Acts. The Coercive Acts were primarily designed to punish Boston and Massachusetts for dumping tea in the harbor. Parliament wanted to send a message to the other colonies that rebellious behavior would not be tolerated. Instead of bringing the colonies in line, they responded by rallying to support Boston and called for the First Continental Congress.


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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Tea Act of 1773 Summary
  • Date May 10, 1773
  • Author
  • Keywords tea act
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date June 1, 2023
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update May 25, 2023

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