Tuesday, July 27, 2010

"The Boston Tea Party" from Voice of America.

This is the history of the real Boston Tea Party, a protest in 1773 against British taxation without representation on the American Colonies. The modern Tea Party movement takes its inspiration from this history. This Tea Party group is composed of very sincere patriots, believers in the traditions and values of this country, but they're largely misled by clever advertising to express anger against everything except what causes our real problems: inappropriate, huge corporate influence in government, corrupt representatives, unregulated financial speculation, union busting, and the business of war.

This is Sarah Long. And this is Rich Kleinfeldt with THE MAKING OF A NATION, a VOA Special English program about the history of the United States.


Today, we tell about the start of the American colonies' war for independence from Britain in the late 1700s.

The road to revolution lasted several years. The most serious events began in 1770. War began five years later.

Relations between Britain and its American colonists were most tense in the colony of Massachusetts. There were protests against the British policy of taxing the colonies without giving them representation in Parliament. To prevent trouble, thousands of British soldiers were sent to Boston, the biggest city in Massachusetts. On March 5, 1770, tension led to violence. This is what happened.

It was the end of winter, and the weather was very cold. A small group of colonists began throwing rocks and pieces of ice at soldiers guarding a public building. They were joined by others, and the soldiers became frightened. They fired their guns.


The Boston Massacre

Five colonists were killed. The incident became known as the Boston Massacre.

The people of Massachusetts were extremely angry. The soldiers were tried in court for murder. Most were found innocent. The others received minor punishments. Fearing more violence, the British Parliament cancelled most of its taxes. Only the tax on tea remained.

This eased some of the tensions for a while. Imports of British goods increased. The colonists seemed satisfied with the situation, until a few years later. That is when the Massachusetts colony once again became involved in a dispute with Britain.


The trouble started because the British government wanted to help improve the business of the British East India Company. That company organized all the trade between India and other countries ruled by Britain. By 1773, the company had become weak. The British government decided to permit it to sell tea directly to the American colonies. The colonies would still have to pay a tea tax to Britain.

The Americans did not like the new plan. They felt they were being forced to buy their tea from only one company.

Officials in the colonies of Pennsylvania and New York sent the East India Company's ships back to Britain. In Massachusetts, things were different. The British governor there wanted to collect the tea tax and enforce the law. When the ships arrived in Boston, some colonists tried to block their way. The ships remained just outside the harbor without unloading their goods.

On the night of December sixteenth, 1773, a group of colonists went out in a small boat. They got on a British ship and threw all the tea into the water. The colonists were dressed as American Indians so the British would not recognize them, but the people of Boston knew who they were. A crowd gathered to cheer them. That incident -- the night when British tea was thrown into Boston harbor -- became known as the Boston Tea Party.


Destroying the tea was a serious crime. The British government was angry. Parliament reacted to the Boston Tea Party by punishing the whole colony of Massachusetts for the actions of a few men. It approved a series of laws that once again changed relations between the colony and Britain.

One of these laws closed the port of Boston until the tea was paid for. Other laws strengthened the power of the British governor and weakened the power of local colonial officials.

In June, 1774, the colony of Massachusetts called for a meeting of delegates from all the other colonies to consider joint action against Britain.

The First Continental Congress
This meeting of colonial delegates was called the First Continental Congress. It was held in the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in September, 1774. All the colonies except one was represented. The southern colony of Georgia did not send a delegate.

The delegates agreed that the British Parliament had no right to control trade with the American colonies or to make any laws that affected them. They said the people of the colonies must have the right to take part in any legislative group that made laws for them.

The First Continental Congress approved a series of documents that condemned all British actions in the American colonies after 1763. It approved a Massachusetts proposal saying that the people could use weapons to defend their rights. It also organized a Continental Association to boycott British goods and to stop all exports to any British colony or to Britain itself. Local committees were created to enforce the boycott.

One of the delegates to this First Continental Congress was John Adams of Massachusetts. Many years later, he said that by the time the meeting was held, the American Revolution had already begun.


Britain's King George the Second announced that the New England colonies were in rebellion. Parliament made the decision to use troops against Massachusetts in January, 1775.

The people of Massachusetts formed a provincial assembly and began training men to fight. Soon, groups of armed men were doing military exercises in towns all around Massachusetts and in other colonies, too.

British officers received their orders in April, 1775. By that time, the colonists had been gathering weapons in the town of Concord, about thirty kilometers west of Boston. The British forces were ordered to seize the weapons. But the colonists knew they were coming and were prepared.

Years later, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote a poem about what happened. The poem tells about the actions of Paul Revere, one of three men who helped warn the colonial troops that the British were coming:


Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere.
On the eighteenth of April in Seventy-five
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

He said to his friend, "If the British march
By land or sea from the town tonight
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light, --
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm
For the country folk to be up and to arm."

When the British reached the town of Lexington, they found it protected by about seventy colonial troops. These troops were called "Minute Men" because they had been trained to fight with only a minute's warning. Guns were fired. Eight colonists were killed.

No one knows who fired the first shot in that first battle of the American Revolution. Each side accused the other. But the meaning was very clear. It was called "the shot heard round the world."


From Lexington, the British marched to Concord, where they destroyed whatever supplies the colonists had not been able to save. Other colonial troops rushed to the area. A battle at Concord's north bridge forced the British to march back to Boston.

It was the first day of America's war for independence. When it was over, almost three hundred British troops had been killed. Fewer than one hundred Americans had died.

The British troops had marched in time with their drummers and pipers. The musicians had played a song called "Yankee Doodle." The British invented the song to insult the Americans. They said a Yankee Doodle was a man who did not know how to fight. After the early battles of the revolution, the Americans said they were glad to be Yankee Doodles.


Following the battles at Lexington and Concord, the Massachusetts government organized a group that captured Fort Ticonderoga on Lake Champlain in New York State. The other colonies began sending troops to help. And another joint colonial meeting was called: the Second Continental Congress. That will be our story next week.


Today's MAKING OF A NATION program was written by Nancy Steinbach. This is Sarah Long. And this is Rich Kleinfeldt. Join us again next week for another Special English program about the history of the United States.


1. "The shot heard around the world" refers to the _________________ .
a. Boston Tea Party
b. Boston Massacre
c. first shot of the Revolutionary War
d. Continental Congress

2. The First Continental Congress met to condemn British actions and to organize a ___________ .
a. revolution
b. demonstration
c. constitution
d. boycott

3. In 1770, five colonists were killed. This became known as the ______________ .
a. Battle of Concord
b. Battle of Lexington
c. Boston Massacre
d. Boston Tea Party

4. After 1770, the only tax colonists had to pay was for their ______ .
a. soldiers
b. tea
c. stamps
d. liquor

5. ___________ was the famous messenger who warned that the British were coming in 1775 to attack the rebellious colonists.
a. Paul Revere
b. Sybil Ludington
c. John Adams
d. Henry Longfellow

6. The British wrote the song "Yankee Doodle" to suggest that American soldiers were
___________ .
a. incompetent
b. sharpshooters
c. insane
d. courageous

7. _________________ was the only colony who didn't send a representative to the First Continental Congress.
a. New York
b. Georgia
c. Massachusetts
d. New Jersey

8. The colonists were angry that the British Parliament passed ________ laws that affected the colonies without their representation.
a. tax
b. crime
c. property
d. divorce

9. Another name for this article could be "_______________ ".
a. The East India Tea Company
b. Events That Led to Revolution
c. The British Parliament
d. The Continental Congresses

10. This article is mainly about ___________________ .
a. the problem of taxation without representation
b. the beginning of the American Revolution
c. the battles of Lexington and Concord
d. the midnight ride of Paul Revere.

The Boston Massacre, from Youtube:

Interesting facts about the Boston Tea Party from "Cheeky History", a very interesting new website.


  1. Where can I find this recording? I would like to use it in class.

  2. You can find it at www.manythings.org or at

  3. Your opening statements concerning today's Tea party movement is utterly ridiculous. There is not a single corporation or business that can make me do anything against my will. But your president has spent money that our grandchildren will be taxed for. If this isn't taxing without representation, what is? I will steer my children from this web site and any site that has anything to do with Voice of America..

  4. I respect your point of view, though I disagree with it. I don't think that what you're saying is "utterly ridiculous". We can have a conversation if we don't quickly categorize and label opinions of those with whom we disagree. Then, we learn from our discussion. I believe that steering children away from a different point of view is limiting the opportunity for critical thinking and analysis. Our children need an education that allows them to think for themselves, not follow blindly the philosophy and opinions of their parents or anyone else, for that matter. I agree with you that our president spends money that contributes vastly to the deficit, it is the expenditure for the war in Afghanistan which feeds the military/industrial complex and takes resources away from such vital needs our society has for education and infrastructure. Expenditure on these societal needs makes good economic sense and contributes to the country's overall economic growth. A healthy country is one in which taxes are equally distributed and people have breathing room for prosperity as well as modest living, where health for all and poverty for none is desirable and held as the society's value and obligation. By the way, my opinion at the beginning of the article is not that of Voice of America, but my own. You need not boycott Voice of America, with its rich store of articles on music, science, art, history, and exploration, just because my comment offended you. Let your children have the advantage of a varied and layered educational experience. Thanks for commenting.

  5. I see your point of view...but i don't agree, you say there should be equal taxes health and basically every thing for all.Well what if one person works harder for something than another shouldn't he be rewarded and not have to split his prize with another...or If one person is a druggy and another is in the top of his class because he worked hard shouldn't the the one whose the top of his class get more opurtunity and fortune? I am a younger person...a kid in fact and im not trying to start a big argument but simply trying to broden my horizons with other peoples thoughts and ideas.thanks,

  6. Your comment is very welcome. You seem like a person who is very open to new ideas, not glued to an opinion. I like very much that you said you want to "broaden my horizons with other people's thoughts and ideas." If more people felt like you, we could have a much richer society. We don't have to agree with each other. We're different people from different perspectives. Your opinion is very worthwhile. I agree with you that if a person works harder than another, they deserve to be rewarded more. There is a lot to be said about the power of the individual to succeed. Today, it's difficult for a hard worker to succeed. Many very talented, very hard workers are out of work. This is because corporations, to save money, have sent industry to other countries. This action is called "outsourcing". The government has in no way regulated this action. This is, in my opinion, unfair to the workers of our country. Furthermore, corporations have lobbied with big money to destroy unions. Unions have historically helped those who work hard to get the income they deserve. I believe that everyone deserves good health care and freedom from hunger and adequate clothing and shelter. A country that is founded on Christianity should be committed to those basic human needs. If we consider Jesus Christ to be our example, our model, our mentor, then we as nation should follow His principles. Among them are complete respect for the opinions, religions, and ethnicities of others. I appreciate hearing your opinions. Please share this website with your friends. You are welcome to comment anytime.

  7. Ref:"Our children need an education that allows them to think for themselves, not follow blindly the philosophy and opinions of their parents or anyone else, for that matter."

    But they do not have to be forced to accept lies!

    "The modern Tea Party movement pretends to be inspired by patriotism like the original Boston Tea Party." by adding the word "pretends" makes this statement just your opinion but also an outright lie! ...there's other opinions and possibly lies in your commentary that ultimately show your left-wing bias. State the facts and leave the opinions to the readers.

    1. "pretends to be inspired". Good point. I've revised that paragraph based on your remarks. I realize that members of the Tea Party movement are sincere in their patriotism and loyalty.

  8. Thank you for your comment. I agree with you totally that each has a right to their opinion. I certainly don't suggest that children ought to be "forced to accept lies". Children should have the right to think for themselves. In these days of very hardened opinions, it's difficult to carry on a discussion without emotionally bristling. It would be good to avoid that. To call another person a "liar" because of deeply held convictions effectively ends the possibility of an exchange of ideas. I don't agree with your right-wing bias, but I don't consider your opinions to be lies. They are your convictions and I respect them. We have much to learn from each other. Facts are always open to interpretation. I see we're in Afghanistan, carrying on a very expensive war. I have an opinion about that fact which likely is different from yours. But we can gain from our debate on this issue and others. You're right to point out that I have a bias. Please feel free to visit this site and further comment if you wish.

  9. i love this for my project thank you

    1. I'm really glad you found this article and the comments following it useful for your project. I'd be very interested in seeing it, or a part of it. You can email me at johnnyboylr@gmail.com
      There are a lot of resources here on many subjects. I hope you continue to gain benefit from these websites.

  10. thankyou so much this helped me a lot in my project .
    where can i get more pictures of boston tea party ?