Continued from Tuesdays With Norwood: Colonial Tea Parties – Part 1

The fame of the Boston Tea Party has obscured the other tea protests, but others there were aplenty. Patriots disguised themselves as Indians on another occasion when tea meant for Philadelphia was actually unloaded in nearby Greenwich, then the largest town in New Jersey. Despite the efforts at secrecy, it was discovered and “none there were who dared to stay the weird figures in paint and feathers who burned it.”

The Charleston consignees had a sudden change of heart about their arrangement with the Company, finding it much more in their interest not to accept delivery or pay duty on the tea, which was stored in the dampest available cellar to rot. Almost a year later, a great crowd demonstrated in front of the docked ship Britannia that had arrived with seven more tea chests aboard. Fearing that the ship and its entire cargo might be burned, the owners rounded up the Company’s consignees and forced them to help chop the chest open and dump their contents overboard in full view of the protesters.

Many a protest meeting had already been held in Philadelphia by the time Captain Ayres of the Polly reached there on 26 December 1773. He was met by a committee of citizens who demanded he accompany them to what proved the largest public meeting the city had yet seen. The city knew about the events in Greenwich already; it was in an outside square that Philadelphians first learned of the Boston Tea Party and unanimously passed a resolution that provided, among other things, “that the tea on board the ship Polly, [under] Captain Ayres, shall not be landed…. That Captain Ayres shall carry the tea back immediately…. That a committee of gentlemen be appointed to see these resolutions carried into execution.” No doubt Captain Ayres was also impressed by the prominent poster demanding he be publicly tarred and feathered, for he wisely assured Philadelphia he would comply with the public wishes and next day set out on the long voyage back to London with his tea. The Company consignees were reasonable men who knew a stone wall when they saw one. They resigned.