The Tea Act of 1773 proved inflammatory for many reasons and served as a basis for the events, known as the Boston Tea Party. First and foremost, it angered colonial merchants, who were afraid to be bankrupted and replaced by a powerful monopoly and excluded from this profitable trade. Moreover, the Tea Act has revived American passions concerning the issue of taxation without representation. Thus the colonists' response was to boycott the tea. However, unlike other boycotts, this protest has managed to mobilize large segments of population and linked colonies together in the experience of mass popular protest.
Plans were made to prevent the East India Company from landing its tea ships in colonial ports. In all ports except Boston the Company's agents agreed to resign, with new tea shipments having been either warehoused or returned to England. In Boston attempts were made to land ships regardless of opposition. This has led to the spectacular drama held by local patriots on December 16, 1773. Three groups of men dressed as Mohawk Indians passed though a large crowd of spectators, broke open tea chests of the three shops and threw them into the harbor.
With the spreading of the Boston Tea Party, similar acts of resistance were followed by other seaports. As the Sons of Liberty refused to pay for the property they had destroyed, Lord North and George III decided on the so called Coercive Acts applied against Massachusetts only. Thus, Parliament closed the Boston Port, reducing the powers of self-government of the colony. These acts sparked new acts of resistance up and down the coast.
The news of the Boston Tea Party reached England in the early 1774; however, it wasn't officially announced until late in February. The King waited for the evidence of the Americans' wickedness, which he found in the letters from Admiral Montagu and Governor Hutchinson, as well as other royal governors, who had considered colonies as serious threatening and a number of inflammatory handbills. The following actions provided for the removal of government offices, courts of justice and the Custom House and forbade all kinds of shipping business in Boston's harbor.
Harsh measure was justified by North by asserting that Boston was recognized as a leader in each riot and the example for the others to follow. It was believed that severe punishment of the Boston Tea Party's initiators would strike terror throughout colonies and bring them into the crown's subjection. A number of Lord North's supporters referred to Bostonians as vile incendiaries and mobocrats, while others, including Rose Fuller proposed a fine that was regarded as a just punishment, as it had to affect a single town.
A broader view was taken by Edmund Burke in the speech of remarkable power. This was the first of series of wonderful orations in Parliament that made his name immortal. Other members of Parliament, including Charles James Fox, followed Burke, showing agreement with his views, however, none was as logical and clear in expression and ideas as he.