With the encouragement of Boston merchants, the Sons of Liberty called for the people of Massachusetts to boycott East India Tea.
, arrived in Boston Harbor carrying a cargo of tea as well as other goods.
They refused to pay taxes on the tea and asked that the tea be returned to England.
When it wasn't, they decided to protest Britain's unfair taxes by throwing the tea into the ocean. It's unclear to historians if the protest was planned.
Fearing that the tea would be seized for failure to pay customs duties, and eventually be sold to customers who did not support the boycott, the Sons of Liberty organized a committee to watch the ships to see that they were not unloaded.
Tensions mounted as patriot groups tried to persuade the East India Company and the governor to return the tea to England.
The next day, Paul Revere set out on a ten-day ride to New York and Philadelphia to spread the news.
As punishment for destroying the tea, Parliament closed the port of Boston to all but ships delivering food and fuel.
The raiders methodically dumped 45 tons of tea into the harbor — enough to clog shipping lanes — but touched nothing else.
The identities of the raiders were kept secret, some for the whole of their lives.