Why did the Tea Act reignite colonial resistance?
Contrary to popular belief, the Tea Act did not raise taxes on tea. In fact, it actually lowered the price of tea to the consumer. It granted a monopoly on the American tea trade to the British East India Company, which was struggling financially and was very well-connected in Parliament. Yet, as one historian of the period has said, many people in America believed that "the act left them no choice; it forced the issue; it expressed still another claim by Parliament of the right to tax them." This was because the Act did not eliminate the tax on tea established a few years earlier under the so-called "Townshend duties." Because the tea could be sold at a very low price, it would cost less to the consumer, so many colonists assumed that the law was a way of getting the people in the colonies to accept the principle of taxation. It was also very bad for merchants (like, for example, Patriot leader John Hancock) who profited from illegally importing tea from Dutch traders and from the West Indies. For these reasons, the Tea Act, rather innocuous on its face, was seen as another in a long line of abuses by the British government. The "Boston Tea Party" held in response, and the resulting Boston Port Act marked significant escalations in the conflict.