Old South Meeting House, Where the Boston Tea Party Began
Boston, Massachusetts, USA
- Old South Meeting House: Hear the echoes of impassioned cries for liberty and see a 3D model showing the route the Sons of Liberty took to ships in the harbor.
- Voices of Protest exhibit: Discover the compelling people who changed the country's future and the heritage of protest and free speech that continues today.
- Rare revolutionary-era treasures: See John Hancock's writing desk, tea leaves from the Tea Party, enslaved poet Phillis Wheatley's first-edition book, and more.
About this Boston, Massachusetts tour
The brewing trouble about tea came to a boil in 1773. Three boats loaded with tea sat at anchor in the Boston Harbor, and American patriots were adamant the cargo would not be unloaded. The Tea Act of 1773 charged taxes on tea brought into the American colonies - an injustice that attracted thousands of protesters for the largest political meetings ever held in Colonial Boston.
So many came that meetings had to be moved from Faneuil Hall to Old South Meeting House, the city's largest building at the time. Citizens from all walks of life thronged the hall merchants, professionals, artisans, and laborers. Steadfast in their agreement that the tea would not be landed, they signed their resolve very simply: by "The People."
The lid blew off steaming events on December 16, 1773. With diplomatic efforts exhausted, the Sons of Liberty were ready to get the party started. They rushed to the harbor, joined by supporters disguised by soot-blacked faces. In just three hours, 340 chests of tea were dumped into Boston Harbor. The people had spoken.
The next day, Founding Father John Adams wrote prophetically about the Tea Party. "This destruction of the tea is so bold, so daring, so intrepid and so inflexible, and it must have so important consequences and so lasting that I can't but consider it an epoch in history." Adams didn't need tea leaves to read America's future.
All the tea in China
Well, not quite. But a lot of tea went overboard into the harbor. Several varieties of black and green tea from China were aboard the three ships, totaling about 46 tons of tea leaves. After the Boston Tea Party, English importer, the East India Company, reported the tea was worth £9,659 nearly $2 million today. The wasted tea was enough to brew 18,523,000 cups. Too bad everyone couldn't just get along.
Please make your way to Old South Meeting House 310 Washington St, Boston, MA 02108.
This is a self-guided tour. Open Daily 7 days a week. Winter: November 1 through March 31: 10:00 am. - 4:00 pm. Summer: April 1 through Oct 31: 9:30 am - 5:00 pm. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve Day, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day.
The historic site, exhibits, events and restrooms are accessible for visitors using wheelchairs. Braille information and large print exhibit text guides are available. Audio program is available on your own device or smartphone using a QR code reader.
Cultural, Family Friendly
Tour Participation Requirements
This experience is rated mild. To participate fully, you may be required to walk over primarily even surfaces at a leisurely pace. You may encounter a limited number of steps, cobblestones, or uneven surfaces, and you may have to stand for extended periods of time.
Suitable for all ages. Children 6 years of age and younger participate free of charge.
Full refunds issued for cancellations made 7 full days prior to the date and time of requested services. Cancellations made within the 7-day and 72-hour window will receive a 50% refund of purchase total. Purchases are non-refundable inside of 72 hours.
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