In 1773, Lexington citizens considered themselves British, with all the rights of British citizens, but Massachusetts had already been subject to the Stamp Act and the Townshend Acts in the 1760’s and reacted by boycotting the taxed goods including tea. Britain finally rescinded those laws. But Britain kept 3,000 soldiers in Boston to “keep the peace,” and continued to try to impose its will on its faraway American colony which didn’t take kindly to the directives.
In the 1770s, Parliament imposed a small tax on tea, called the Tea Act, which would have the effect of helping the East India Company retain its monopoly on the tea trade. The colonies were wary of any taxation originating in England rather than in the colonies themselves. Many towns and villages decided to once more boycott tea. Boston’s reaction to the tax led to the famous “Tea Party” in which some colonists, dressed up as Indians, boarded a ship carrying tea and threw the tea into the harbor.
Lexington held a town meeting to consider what response to make to the Tea Act, and on December 13, 1773, voted to support a strongly worded resolution which was sent to the Committee of Correspondence in Boston to be circulated throughout Massachusetts and the other colonies. Here is the last set of resolves from that letter:
“That we will not be concerned with, directly or indirectly, in landing, receiving, buying or selling or even using any of the Teas sent out by the East India Company or that shall be Imported Subject to a Duty....
That all such persons as shall, directly or indirectly...shall be deemed and treated by Us as enemies of their Country.---
That the Conduct of Richar[d] Clark and Son, the Govenours [sic] two sons, Thomas and Elijah Hutchinson, and the other consignees in refusing to resign their appointment...as repeatedly requested by the town of Boston has justly rendered them Obnoxious to their fellow citizens....We cannot but consider them as objects of our Just Resentment Indignation and Contempt.”....We trust in GOD that should the state of our afairs [sic] require it, we shall be ready to Sacrifice our Estate, and everything dear in life, yea and Life itself, in Support of the common cause."
The above resolve being passed a Motion was made that to them another should be added...
“That if any Head of a family in this Town or any Person shall from this time forward until the Duty be taken off purchase any Tea or use or Consume any Tea in their Families such person shall be looked upon as an Enemy to this Town and to this Country and shall be treated with neglect and Contempt.”
These Resolves were approved on December 13, 1773 and sent to Boston the next day. That very night Lexington residents “brought together every ounce” from their homes “and committed it to one common bonfire.” This was Lexington’s own “Tea Party.” The “Boston Tea Party” occurred three days later on the evening of December 16.