Expert Available to Offer Insight on 250th Anniversary of the Boston Tea Party
DURHAM, N.H.—As tea arrives from all over the country for the reenactment of the 250th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party, historians say a possible peaceful resolution in 1773 could have changed history. Eliga Gould, a professor of history at the University of New Hampshire and an expert on the American Revolution, said the actions of Boston’s Sons of Liberty dumping more than 300 crates of tea from the British East India Company into Boston Harbor on Dec. 16, 1773, was a pivotal event in the American Revolution.
Gould can be contacted at Eliga.Gould@unh.edu.
“If Britain hadn’t over-reacted, the Tea Party might have had a completely different outcome,” said Gould. “Because it was an attack on personal property, the ‘destruction of the tea,’ as the Tea Party was originally known, offended Americans almost as much as it did King George III and British Parliament. But the harsh punishment imposed on Massachusetts raised fears that colonists elsewhere could expect the same repercussions so an armed resistance seemed to them like their only choice.”
Gould, who has authored several books about the American Revolution, says the Boston Tea Party changed everything. The ships in the harbor were carrying tea from the British East India Company, the wealthiest, most powerful corporation in the world. Before the Sons of Liberty boarded the ships that evening and dumped the crates of tea overside, a peaceful resolution to the colonial dispute over British taxation actually seemed possible. Britain’s harsh response—suspending Massachusetts government, interfering with the colony’s courts and closing the port until the people of Boston paid for the destroyed tea—set Britain and America on the path to war.
Gould is the author of Among the Powers of the Earth: “The American Revolution and the Making of a New World Empire” (2012) which was named a Library Journal Best Book of the Year and received the SHEAR Book Prize from the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic and was a finalist for the George Washington Book Prize. Gould has held fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Charles Warren Center at Harvard. He is currently writing a global history of the peace that ended the American Revolutionary War: “Crucible of Peace: The Turbulent History of America’s Founding Treaty”.
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