The Boston Tea Party (which was not called that until many years later) happened on December 16, 1773. It was a public protest against the Tea Act, which essentially gave the East India Company a monopoly on tea exported to America, and the right to sell it through their own merchants. After nightfall, a group of colonists, many of whom were dressed as Mohawk Indians, boarded East India ships in Boston Harbor and dumped around 90,000 pounds of tea into the water. The action was very highly organized, and the participants cut across class lines. The real significance of the event is in the response. Parliament responded to the destruction of the tea with a series of laws that were known as the "Intolerable Acts," closing Boston as a port and essentially placing the city under martial law. This proved to be a decisive moment in the onset of hostilities.