Two hundred forty years ago on December 16, the Sons of Liberty, some disguised as Indians, dumped chests of British tea into the Boston Harbor protesting the tax on tea. The Boston Tea Party was actually the first of two such events in Boston and the first of many that would take place throughout the eastern seaboard of America.
In response, the British ordered the port of Boston closed to all commerce, except for supplies for the British. This action was the first of the Intolerable Acts—a series of new laws the British passed aimed at punishing the colony of Massachusetts for its resistance to British policies.
Many Americans considered England’s reaction heavy-handed. The Intolerable Acts backfired as Americans from all over the colonies sent emergency supplies to Boston. The First Continental Congress was held in Philadelphia the following fall at which American delegates called on the King of England to rescind the Intolerable Acts.
However, a sizable minority of Americans, known as Loyalists or Tories, vowed to remain loyal to England. The Boston Tea Party led to greater hostility and violence toward all Loyalists and further divided the colonists.