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Yorktown Teaparty, 7 November 1774

CONTENT WARNING

Materials in the Library of Virginia’s collections contain historical terms, phrases, and images that are offensive to modern readers. These include demeaning and dehumanizing references to race, ethnicity, and nationality; enslaved or free status; physical and mental ability; and gender and sexual orientation. 

Context

On May 10, 1773 the British Parliament passed the Tea Act which granted The British Eat India Company a monology on importing tea. A tax on tea and other imported goods had been around since the Townsend Revenue Act became law in 1767. In December 1773, American colonists angered by Britain imposing taxes on the colonies without the colonies being represented (“taxation without representation”) and for allowing for a monopoly on tea imports, dumped 342 chests of tea into Boston Harbor.

While not as well-known as the Boston Tea Party, there was another tea party protest in Yorktown, Virginia. On November 7, 1774, residents of Yorktown boarded the British ship, Virginia, and dumped two half-chests of tea into the York River. The tea had been imported despite the boycott on English goods which had been established in August 1774 by the first Virginia Revolutionary Convention. The boycott was an effort to pressure the British Parliament to repeal tax laws and regulations not unlike those at the center of the Boston Tea Party event.

The goal of this smaller tea party event in the York River was to send a message of support to Revolutionary cause and to demonstrate that the importation of tea during the boycott would not be tolerated. The merchant who had imported the tea wrote an apology in the newspaper and asked the public for forgiveness. The Captain of the ship was also punished for his participation in bringing the tea in volitation of the boycott. He was ordered to not fill his ship with tobacco and other goods, but to return to England with an empty ship.


Citation: Yorktown Tea Party, November 7, 1774. Notices pertaining to the Yorktown Tea Party, November 24, 1774, Purdie and Dixon, Virginia Gazette, page 2, Special Collections, Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia.

Standards

VS 1. VS 5, VUS 1, VUS 4, US 1, US 6

Suggested Questions

Preview Activity

Scan It: Scan the transcribed version of the article and identify 3 or 4 phrases describe the event that took place on November 7, 1774.

Post Activities

Analyze: The American colonists used events like the Yorktown Tea Party to rally people to support the revolution. Was it effective? Why or why not? 

Food for Thought: Why would American colonists want to participate in this type of protest? What were the potential risks for supporting these types of events? 

Another Perspective: Imagine you are a merchant during the Revolution; what are some incentives to obey the non-importation agreement? What are some incentives to disobey the agreement?