IN the late eighteenth century, the East India Company enjoyed a very cosy relationship with Parliament. A number of high-ranking government officials owed their salaries to it, and would do anything to protect it.
THE Tea Act of 1773 grudgingly allowed American companies to import tea, but deliberately weighed them down with burdensome regulation and taxes unless they dealt with the East India Company in London.
The colonists could do nothing about this, because they had no representatives in the English Parliament.
On December 16th 1773, Samuel Adams and some seven thousand angry residents of Boston in Massachusetts met at the Old South Meeting House, to share their frustration at Parliament’s shameless cronyism, and demand that the Governor send the Company’s ships* home.
He refused; so that evening, some of them gathered at the harbour, and tossed three hundred and forty-two chests of the Company’s tea into the water.
Next day, Samuel Adams’s second cousin John wrote admiringly in his diary, “The People should never rise, without doing something to be remembered”.
Perhaps John was thinking of it when he was one of the five men who presented the Declaration of Independence to Congress on June 28, 1776.
* HMS Dartmouth, HMS Beaver, and HMS Eleanor.