On December 16, 1773, a group of Boston colonists dressed up as Native Americans and then dumped the tea aboard three East India Company ships into the Boston Harbor. This act was a reaction to taxes imposed by the British government and the governor’s refusal to remove the tea ships from the harbor. The colonists had made it clear that they did not want to purchase the tea or pay taxes on it. After a few weeks of the ships continued presence, it was time to do something about it.
The British responded to the Boston Tea Party in a way that would unite several colonies in rebellion. Parliament passed a group of acts, – The Intolerable Acts – one of which cut off all shipments to the colonists through Boston Harbor. This was viewed as overkill by the Massachusetts Bay Colony and others. All of Boston was being punished for the acts of a few. They were losing money and they were being deprived of basic needs. The rest of the colonies banded together to ensure that the people of Boston were still receiving trade goods by land.
Not only did Boston find help from other colonies, they also found fast allies in their rebellion against the British. Even loyalists were upset about the Intolerable Acts. As a result, the first significant intercolonial governmental bodies were formed. A major convention was called to address the escalating problems. This would be the First Continental Congress.
It took several months to pull the First Continental Congress together. The Intolerable Acts were ratified in April of 1774. The First Continental Congress convened in September of that year. It was a success in that it approved rebellion against the British. It could be said that the Boston Tea Party caused the rift between British government and the colonies to become irreparable. Members of the First Continental Congress knew it. The delegates stressed the need for militia training in all of the colonies. It was a good thing too, because those rebellious Bostonians would see the American Revolution start the following April.
The reaction of the colonists to the Boston Tea Party was really more of a reaction to Parliament’s reaction, as convoluted as that sounds. Things may have continued as they were, with sporadic acts of rebellion, for years if Parliament was not so out of touch with the issues in Boston. As it was, they made the wrong call and incited the united anger of the colonies. It was the worst possible outcome for the British and the best for the rebellious colonists.