Side Tracked: Harbor Resentment

Tea Party-loWhile everyone knows of Paul Revere’s Ride, but fewer know of his participation in another famous act of rebellion – the Boston Tea Party. Maybe because he was in disguise.

It was on the night of December 16, 1773 that Revere, along with a crowd of fellow patriots from an organization known as The Sons of Liberty, snuck aboard three ships at Griffin’s wharf in Boston Harbor, and dumped 340 chests of tea overboard. Many were dressed as Mohawk Indians with blankets over their clothes and soot on their faces, to hide their identities. The bold and costly (for the British) act was in protest of the Tea Act, which created an uneven trading situation for the colonists and one they deeply resented.

The Tea Party marked a boiling over of resentments following years of tensions and taxes between the British empire and the American colonists. A revolution would erupt two short years later, and “no taxation without representation” would be a continuing rallying cry.


Paul Revere’s print of Boston Harbor from 1768

From where I sat, overlooking the Boston Tea Party Museum and its two life -sized models of the ships, things were much more peaceful and orderly. It was a winter’s day, but with surprisingly warm temperatures. I sat at a picnic table in front the Children’s Museum and watched tour groups across the water throw imitation tea boxes into the harbor each and every half hour. No one seemed very upset.


Munroe Tavern

Munroe Tavern

There have been a number of mild days this winter in Boston, including the snow-covered day on which I drew the historic Munroe Tavern in nearby Lexington. The old wooden building (built in 1735) played a role on the day of the Revolutionary War battles of Lexington and Concord. And, the night before the fight, Paul Revere raced down the road below to alert the community of the troubles that were to come.

The owner of the tavern was William Munroe, and he was one of the the local patriots that confronted the British army on Lexington Green in the early morning hours of April 19, 1775. The first shots of the war were fired then, and Redcoats marched confidently on to nearby Concord where their fortunes changed dramatically.

To visit the well-preserved tavern today is to learn about the British side of things. They suffered 73 deaths and many injuries that day as they fought their way back to Boston in retreat. The tavern was taken over and used as a makeshift field hospital for short period of time. Munroe’s neighbor who was watching over the tavern for him, was killed by the British. A bullet hole can still be found in the ceiling.

Years later, on November 15, 1789, George Washington visited Lexington to pay tribute to the revered battleground and he dined at the Munroe Tavern during his stay. The chair he used still sits in the second story dining room.