The Boston Tea Party and the Road to Revolution

The Lexington Battle Green, where American militia and the British army skirmished.
The Boston Tea Party — British tea thrown overboard as a provocative protest.
Boston, as seen on a modern map, located north of New York on the American east coast.

Most American colonists had no desire to break away from Great Britain. In fact, many future American revolutionaries worked hard all the way up to 1775 to peacefully rescind the unpopular British policies, including tax laws, that made the colonists angry. By doing so, they hoped that the American colonies could remain British.

Throwing tea overboard

The peaceful efforts to resolve contentious issues with the motherland notwithstanding, daring physical provocations challenging British policies were also carried out. The most famous of these provocations was when white Bostonians, disguised as Native Americans, boarded three British trade ships and threw an entire cargo of tea overboard. This event, which was a protest against the British tax policy on tea, later became known as the Boston Tea Party.

In spite of pressure and provocations, Britain and its king, George III, stood firm in their intent to make the colonists pay taxes and obey other laws decided in London. Moreover, to intimidate the colonists into complying, and as punishment for the cargo of tea that had been dropped overboard, Britain, soon after the “tea party” incident, suspended the local Boston government and increased their own military presence in the city.

Storing weapons

As a response to Britain’s response, colonists created a weapons depot in Concord, near Boston. Weapons from this depot, they planned, were to be used by a newly-formed local militia if the British military became too aggressive.

Great Britain, as always, would not accept any armed resistance to its rule. Therefore, when they heard about the weapons depot, they dispatched a contingent of British soldiers to confiscate it. The local militia, aware of the British plans, coincidentally set out to defend the depot, and when the two forces later came upon each other at a place called Lexington, both sides held their fire awaiting further orders. Then, unclear from where, a shot rang out, triggering the British to attack fiercely. This, in turn, caused the American colonists to cut and run, but only to gather more militiamen and counter attack just hours later.

Lexington and Concord

The counter attack interrupted the British search for weapons in Concord and forced the redcoats to make a tactical withdrawal. This early withdrawal, to the disappointment of the British, meant that little military supplies and weapons would turn up in the search, while the fighting itself throughout the day, instead, resulted in significant casualties among both the Brits and the colonists. These developments, unsatisfying to both camps, led to antagonism in the colonies growing even stronger, and the Battles of Lexington and Concord, given the events that they spurred, came to be seen as the start of the American Revolutionary War.