Was the Boston Tea Party justified?

Answering a question as to whether the Boston Tea Party was justified or unjustified requires that the ideals of the Boston Tea Party be weighed against the fact that the Boston Tea Party represented a criminal act, aimed at the destruction of private property. At the same time, beneath the ideals of the Revolution, there were purely self-serving motivations as well. Colonial merchants, undercut by the Tea Act, were acting to secure their own self-interest.

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To answer this question, you would need to weigh the described ideals of the American Revolution against the reality that, at its core, the Boston Tea Party was a criminal act aimed at destroying the property of the East India Company. In the process, it would inspire sharp reprisals from the British Government by way of the Intolerable Acts (a moment which, itself, represents one of the critical turning points in the history of American independence). At the same time, however, you should also be aware that there is a more cynical reading of the Boston Tea Party, which would argue that the classic patriotic reading of these events may be in need of some revising.

Regardless of the high ideals of the Revolution, there were also more purely economic motivations in play. Ultimately, remember that the Boston Tea Party was in response to the Tea Act, which allowed the British East India Company to sell its tea directly to the colonists. In practice, this actually decreased the price of tea...

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on June 11, 2020