The Boston Tea Party

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How did Great Britain react to the Boston Tea Party?

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The Boston Tea Party inspired outrage on the part of Great Britain, and the British government answered by passing legislation of a punitive nature. Within the colonies, these acts were referred to as the Intolerable Acts.

After the Boston Tea Party, Great Britain shut down Boston Harbor until such a time as the damages inflicted by the Boston Tea Party had been repaid. Additionally, under the Massachusetts Government Act, Massachusetts had its charter effectively revoked. Furthermore, under the Intolerable Acts, criminal trials of royal officials could be moved to Britain, rather than held in the colonies. Finally, the Quartering Act allowed Britain to house its troops in private homes. The intention of these laws was to punish Massachusetts in response to the Boston Tea Party. It resulted in outrage throughout the colonies.

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Great Britain reacted very strongly to the Boston Tea Party. When the colonists dumped the tea in the harbor at Boston, the British East India Company lost a significant amount of money. To punish the colonies, especially those in Massachusetts, for this action, the British passed the Intolerable Acts. These were harsh laws designed to punish the colonists.

The Intolerable Acts closed the port of Boston until they paid for tea. This would have a negative economic impact on the colonists. The colonists also lost some political power as the governor of Massachusetts was given more power, and town meetings were suspended. A third provision of the Intolerable Acts allowed the British to house their troops in the homes of the colonists. Prior to this, the colonists had to provide housing, but it wasn’t in the homes of the citizens. Finally, a British official who was accused of a crime in the colonies could have the trial in Britain where the jury might have more sympathy to the British official. The British believed the colonists must be punished for their role in the Boston Tea Party.

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How did England feel about the Boston Tea Party?

The opinion of the English government, at least King George III and the North Administration, about the Boston Tea Party can be measured by its reaction to the event. Parliament, at the urging of the King and his minister, passed the Coercive Acts, aimed specifically at punishing Boston for the intransigence of its citizens, and at making an example of the city. The acts, known as the "Intolerable Acts" among American Whigs, were uncompromising. The Boston Port Act closed the port of Boston until the city compensated the British East India Company for its losses; the Massachusetts Government Act essentially revoked the colony's charter and placed it under martial law; and the Administration of Justice Act allowed British officials charged with breaking the law to be tried in British courts rather than in the colonies. The Tea Party was the last straw for the British, and the Intolerable Acts turned out to be the last straw for many colonists as well. Revolutionary committees in almost every colony unanimously condemned the acts, and they began to raise money (usually in direct defiance of colonial governors) to support the colony of Massachusetts. The Intolerable Acts were the tipping point in the imperial crisis that led to the American Revolution. 

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