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Tea Party to IndependenceThe Third Phase of the American Revolution 1773-1776$
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Peter D. G. Thomas

Print publication date: 1991

Print ISBN-13: 9780198201427

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198201427.001.0001

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Confrontation: May–September 1774

Confrontation: May–September 1774

(p.118) 7. Confrontation: May–September 1774
Tea Party to Independence

Peter D.G. Thomas

Oxford University Press

The British legislation of 1774 united an America divided by the Boston Tea Party. The policy it embodied has often been condemned as foolish by historians blessed with the wisdom of hindsight. Such facile criticism overlooks the dilemma that British Prime Minister Lord North's administration could not have ignored such defiance, and yet that any retaliation would be resented. Indeed, the policy was a moderate one, and attacked by many in Britain for that reason. But it would be foolish to attribute American resistance to incitement from Britain, despite the opinions to that effect voiced by colonial officials and British politicians both before and after 1773. The much-publicized role of Boston as the first martyr of American liberty did not lead to the colonial response that the town sought. Boston wanted the immediate action of a trade boycott. It obtained instead the potential support of a Congress. Benjamin Franklin was deluding both himself and his American correspondents by assertions that a colonial trade boycott would produce a change in British government policy.

Keywords:   Britain, Boston, America, boycott, legislation, Lord North, Benjamin Franklin, Boston Tea Party

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