Charleston Tea Party Article in the South Carolina Gazette, 21 November 1774

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In early November 1774, the ship, Britannia, arrived in Charleston Harbor from London, carrying passengers and most notably, seven chests of East Indian tea.  As this article in the South Carolina Gazette shows, this tea was "subject to that Duty which all America have denied to be constitutionally imposed; and the Minds of the People appeared to be very agitated."  The captain of the ship, Samuel Ball, Jr., "acknowledged having the mischievous Drug on Board" but he swore under oath before a notary in London that the Charleston merchants ordering the tea, acted without his "Knowledge or Consent."  Captain Ball was spared punishment, but the three Charleston merchants who commissioned the tea were forced to walk down to the harbor and drop the seven chests of tea overboard.  The Gazette reported that "on Thursday at Noon [November 3, 1774], an Oblation was made to Neptune."  This "tea party" was just one of many colonial responses to the Tea Act, a tax imposed by Parliament which the colonists considered unconstitutional.  It is not remembered as well as the more famous one which took place in Boston nor was it Charleston’s first.

Charleston’s first "tea party" took place on December 3, 1773, thirteen days before the more famous one in Boston.  Charlestonians called a meeting to decide their course of action, and all present agreed not to purchase tea. Instead of dumping it into the harbor, they unloaded the tea and stored it in the Exchange building.  Not every colonist accepted this agreement, particularly many merchants, but the colonists now had an established system for dealing with future problems.  They established the General Committee to enforce nonimportation agreements and resolutions in the colony.  In July 1774 a ship tried to bring tea into Charleston with similar results.


["Charleston Tea Party"]. South Carolina Gazette. Page 2. 21 November 1774. Charleston Library Society, Charleston, SC.


CHARLES-TOWN, November 7.

On Tuesday last, Mr. Thomas Broughton jun. was married, to Miss Betsy Lesesne, a very amiable and accomplished young Lady, Daughter of the late Mr. Isaac Lesesne.

The same Day a Number of young Gentlemen from different schools, by waiting on the several families in town, made a considerable Collection of Tea; but found three-fourths of the Houses without any.

The same Day arrived here, in the Ship Britannia, Capt. Samuel Ball, jun. from London (amongst a Number of other Passengers) Samuel Carne, Esq; formerly of this Town; Thomas Attwood, Esq; appointed Chief-Justice of His Majesty’s Bahama-Islands; the Hon. William Gregory, appointed to succeed the late John Muray, Esq; as an assistant-judge and Justice of His Majesty's Courts in the Colony, and also to a Seat in the Council; Edward Lowndes, Esq; Mr. Gray, Mr. Peele, Mrs. McDonogh, Widow of the late Capt. Terence McDonogh, and Family; Mrs. And Miss Andrews;  Mr. Wrong, of Barbados; James Cusack, Esq; and Mrs. Casack; Mr. Zephaniah Kinsley, Merchant; Mr. and Mrs. Holliday.

Before Captain Ball had been many Hours in Port, the Committee of Observation were informed, that he had Seven Chests of Tea on board, subject to that Duty which all America have denied to be constitutionally imposed; and the Minds of the People appeared to be very much agitated.  To allay the Ferment which there seemed reason to apprehend, that Committee met early on Wednesday Morning, sent for Captain Ball, who readily attended, and, after expressing to him their Concerns and Astonishment at his Conduct, acquainted him, it was expected the said Teas should not be landed here.  He acknowledged having the mischievous Drug on board;---- That 3 chests were shipped frm the House of Messrs. Rofs & Mill, --- and 4 from Messrs. James Graham and Comp.----That 3 were consigned to Mr. Robert Lindsay,--- 3 to Mr. Zephaniah Kinsley, and 1 to Mr. Robert Mackenzie, all Merchants here: --- But declared, that he was an entire Stranger to their being on board his Ship, ‘till he was ready to clear out, when he discovered that his Mate had received them in his Absence: --- That, as seen as he made the Discovery, he did all in his Power to get them relanded, but all his Endeavours, for two Days together, proving ineffectual, he entered the following Protest; which he hoped would acquit him from the Suspicion of having any Design to act contrary to the Sense of the People here, or the Voice of all America.

Copy of the PROTEST.

ON the 29th Day of August, 1774, Before me, David Ewart, Notary-Public, sworn and admitted, dwelling in London, personally appeared, Samuel Ball, jun. Master of the Ship Britannia, now cleared out from London for Charles-Town, South-Carolina, and requested me, Notary, to protest, as by these Presents, I do protest, against the shippers of Three Half-Chests and Four Quarter-Chests of Tea, by the said Ship, without the Knowledge or Consent of him appears, or any application to him in Respect thereof.--- Witness my Nortorial Firm and Seal, the Day and Year above-written. 

Samuel Ball, jun.


These are to certify, That Samuel Ball, jun. came personally before me, one of His Majesty’s Justices of the Peace for the Said Country, and made Oath, that the Contents of the above Protest is just and true.

Sworn before me, this, 31st of August 1774., Sam. Ball, jun.

N. Leach

Capt. Ball having so far acquitted himself of any design to counteract the Americans, the Committee of Observation made their Report to a very full Meeting of the General Committee the same Evening: when the Importers of the Teas attended, and severally declared, that they were ready and willing to do any Thing, which the Committee should be of Opinion would most effectually contribute to preserve the Peace and Quiet of the Community.  Accordingly,

On Thursday at Noon, an Oblation was made to Neptune, of the said seven chests of Tea, by Messrs. Lindsay, Kinsley and Mackenzie themselves; who going on board the Ship in the Stream, with their own Hands respectively stove the Chests belong to each, and emptied their Contents into the River, in the Presence of the Committee of Observation, who likewise went on board, and in View of the whole General Committee on the Shore besides numerous Concourse of People, who gave three hearty Cheers after the emptying of each Chest, and immediately after separated as if nothing had happened.

Last Wednesday arrived the Diligence Packet-Boat, Capt. John Forgie, with the Mails from Jamaica and Pensacola.

Thursday last six Chests of Bohen TEA, containing 669 lb. net, which had lately been smuggled into this Town, were re-shipped for the Port from whence they were brought, with a Caution to the Shipper to venture no more this Way: --- This proves that We do not reject the dutied Teas, in order to countenance the Importation of others.

Correlating SC Social Studies Academic Standards:

Standard 3-3: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the American Revolution and South Carolina’s role in the development of the new American nation.

Indicator 3-3.1 Analyze the causes of the American Revolution—including Britain’s passage of the Tea Act, the Intolerable Acts, the rebellion of the colonists, and the Declaration of Independence—and South Carolina’s role in these events. (H, P, E)

Standard 4-3: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the conflict between the American colonies and England.

Indicator 4-3.1  Explain the political and economic factors leading to the American Revolution, including the French and Indian War; British colonial policies such as the Stamp Act, the Tea Act, and the so-called Intolerable Acts; and the American colonists’ early resistance through boycotts, congresses, and petitions. (E, P, H)

Standard 8-2: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the American Revolution—the beginnings of the new American nation and South Carolina’s part in the development of that nation.

Indicator 8-2.1  Explain the interests and roles of South Carolinians in the events leading to the American Revolution, including the state’s reactions to the Stamp Act and the Tea Act; the role of Christopher Gadsden and the Sons of Liberty; and the role of the four South Carolina signers of the Declaration of Independence—Edward Rutledge, Arthur Middleton, Thomas Lynch Jr., and Thomas Heyward Jr. (H, P, E)



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