December 16, 1773 – The Boston Tea Flash Mob

On December 16, 1773, a group of Massachusetts colonists, dressed as Mohawk indians, raided three British tea ships in Boston Harbor and dumped 342 chests of tea overboard.  The incident, which was a means of protest against unfair British taxation, became known as the Boston Tea Party and was one of many catalysts of the American Revolution.  After months of researching periodicals from the time, scouring the diaries of those involved, and listening to the drunken ramblings of elderly Bostonian historians, I’ve been able to put together the highlights of the timeline of that fateful evening:

Dec. 16, 1773 –

3:00 pm:  Samuel Adams, the group’s leader, lays out his plan to raid the British tea ships.  The group of colonial revolutionaries are excited at first, but begin to lose interest when Adams won’t shut up about this new concept of a “flash mob” that he’s just created.

5:30 pm:  Samuel Adams and Judge Thadius Goodman conduct a reconnaissance of the tea ships docked in the harbor.  While strolling nonchalantly past the British sentries, Judge Goodman makes a loud “not so casual” comment to Adams about rumors of indians in the area.  The two men hurry away giggling.

6:45 pm:  The revolutionaries gather at Judge Goodman’s house for dinner.  Everyone compliments Goodman’s wife on the meal she’s made, but later secretly agree that it wasn’t all that good.  Thomas Smith refuses to eat his brussel sprouts, causing great insult to Mrs. Goodman.  He is promptly dismissed from the revolutionary group.

8:15 pm:  The group begins to dawn their Mohawk indian costumes (or more accurately, the white person stereotype of how an indian dresses).  A fistfight ensues between Judge Goodman and Markus Allen over who gets to wear the “chief’s headdress”.  Samuel Adams steps in and declares that if they are going to fight about it, nobody gets to wear it.  He later wears it himself.

9:30 pm to 11:30 pm:  The group drinks beer.  A lot.  It is deemed necessary before any costumed raid.

11:45 pm:  Thirty five drunken colonist dressed like what they thought indians dressed like, slip past sleeping British sentries and board the three British tea ships.  After dumping over $18,000 worth of tea into the harbor, the group leaves one last insulting message to the British by making literal use of the ships’ poop decks.  

I hope this has shed some light on a pivotal event in our nation’s history.   As a side note, in 1973, on the 200th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party, the Sam Adams Brewery released a special addition craft beer brewed with British Tea and salt water from Boston Harbor.  Many were skeptical, but most critics were surprised by its “robust profile and overwhelming taste of freedom”.  A few people got sick from the harbor water, but they were deported immediately.

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