It was December 16, 1773, just after suppertime. It was cold, and you had been standing outside for a while. The most recent meeting at the Old South Meeting House obviously hadn’t produced many results, and the clock was ticking. Boston was on fire with passion—the fire was making the tea kettle of revolution begin to boil uncontrollably. You shivered occasionally, but it was more from excitement than the chill.

You had furtively gathered with a few other friends at that tavern…which was it again? You can’t remember. It wasn’t the Green Dragon—that would have been too obvious. Regardless, you had met at that tavern to suit up, as Mr. Loring had put it. Loring’s son Matthew had cajoled you into doing it; he reasoned that seventeen was definitely not too young to be involved with an illegal protest. You were mostly a man, after all. It was different for him—he was twenty-two, and his father was actively sympathetic with the revolution. You figured your parents wouldn’t let you participate, so you didn’t tell them your destination and intent when you left the house at five o'clock. You shared with them that you were supping with the Lorings. Which was true. It just wasn’t the end of the story.

“Suiting up” entailed donning ridiculous leather Mohawk warrior costumes. Matthew Loring had recently procured a job as a leatherworker, but that did not mean he could design dignifying costumes. When you saw what the leatherworker had made, you laughed, but it wasn’t a joke. This was serious. It was real. Your highly illegal protest was going to happen. You remember smearing grease and dirt on your face, putting feathers in your hair. You were armed with a hatchet and your older brother’s pistol, which he left at home while visiting France. Covering your shoulders, a woolen blanket was your only protection from the winter wind. You tried to remember what they had told you at that meeting last week, about the disguise. You are American. Why shouldn’t you dress like a real one? As you ducked down the bitter alleyways towards the harbor, you glanced at your reflection in a dark window. If your mother knew about this…

You took pains to make sure she never did. You also took pains to avoid looking at your companions lest they discovered your prevalent emotion—anxiety. There were a myriad of things that could go wrong, the least of which being that your nose threatened to freeze off its perch on your face. You made it to the harbor uneventfully, however. It was about six o’clock, and your small party joined to another, larger party. The three ships carrying that offending substance—such delicious tea—floated so harmlessly in the black water. Your instructions were clear: no stealing tea, no stealing anything else on the ship, keep quiet, follow orders. Just hack open the chests of tea, and dump the tea in the harbor or on the dock so it could be raked into the water. Simple enough.

Marie Jeanette
Author and Columnist