Clandestine group dumps tea to protest taxes!

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BOSTON – The city’s Old South Meeting House was the stage Wednesday for about 100 reenactors dressed in Colonial garb who gathered to voice their frustrations about a new tax imposed by the English king on tea shipped to the colonies in America.

Objections were raised about unloading 340 cargo chests sent by the East India Tea Co. on ships docked in the harbor nearby. The assembled men, calling themselves the Sons of Liberty, demanded a fairer tax system, just as did the original protesters on the same date 242 years ago.

On that fateful day in 1773, more than 5,000 Colonists, about a third of Boston’s population, gathered in the landmark church as protesters aired concerns about taxation without representation. The date would go down in history as the “Boston Tea Party,” marking one of the catalysts to the American Revolution a few years later.

After trash-talking the tea tax and demanding liberty from the crown, the rabble-rousing Sam Adams declared, “This meeting can do no more to save the country.”

The repetition of those words Wednesday evening provided a cue to the reenactors to head for Griffin’s Wharf, trailed by hundreds of onlookers and history buffs. Their march to the replica East India ship was accompanied by fifers and drummers, orchestrating their mission to destroy the tea.

The protesters tossed tea from the actual East India Co. overboard Wednesday, the first time the company has supplied the tea to be dumped by reenactors. In the 18th century, the tea arriving from Asia actually was grown in China. It took approximately three hours for 100 to 150 men to drop the tea into the water. The protest action cost the trading company 9,659 English pounds, worth about $2 million today.

About 3,000 spectators were expected at the Wednesday event at the ship, according to Shawn Ford, vice president and executive director of the Tea Party Ships and Museum in the middle of Fort Point Channel near South Station. The reenactment at the Old South Meeting House, with a capacity for 650 spectators, was sold out.

Boston Tea Party reenactments began in 1973, the 200th anniversary of the event. The Old South Meeting House, now a museum, has worked on the program with the Tea Party museum.