Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Boston Tea Party

The Boston Tea Party

Russell Freedman
Illustrator:  Peter Malone 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 7 to 9
Holiday House, 2012   ISBN: 978-0823422661

The American colonists loved their tea, but there was something they deeply cared about that made them willing to give up drinking tea altogether. The colonists did not want Britain’s Parliament telling them that they had to pay British taxes if they were not allowed to have a voice in Parliament like the rest of the king’s loyal subjects. They felt that the taxes they paid entitled them to being able to have some say in Britain’s government. The king did not agree and thus, by 1773, a very strained and tense state of affairs existed between the colonies and Great Britain.

   In May of that year the British Parliament passed the Tea Act. When news of the Tea Act reached America months later in October, this new outrage on top of so many others that preceded it really angered the American colonists. Many Boston citizens met in early November and ended up denouncing the tea tax. When a ship full of tea arrived in Boston harbor on November 28th, tensions in the city were high and thousands of angry colonists met to decide what should be done about the tea laden ship. They decided that they would not allow anyone to unload the ship. The ship should be sent back to Britain with its tea still on board.

   Britain’s governor of Massachusetts was “not pleased” about this development. He was determined that the ship, and others like it, would be unloaded of their tea, and the tea tax would be paid. He arranged for two warships to block the harbor so that the tea ships could not leave.

   On December 16th another meeting was held and the colonists voted to send someone to try to reason with the governor, to ask the governor to allow one of the ships to leave the harbor. When the governor refused to negotiate with the colonists, he set in motion a series of events that he could not possible have anticipated.

   Russell Freedman has written a large selection of nonfiction titles for young readers, many of which have won awards. In this book he once again gives readers a nonfiction account that is interesting and beautifully written. Young readers will come to appreciate why the Boston Tea Party came about. In an afterword he describes how the British responded to the event and why some people think that the American Revolution “really began on the night of December 16, 1773, without a shot being fired.”