In the May 27 article “Steeped in the Past,” information concerning the Boston and Charlestown tea parties is disputable.
Charlestown did not have a tea party before Boston. Actually, the local tea party occurred 11 months after Dec. 16, 1773, when Beantown’s “Mohawk Indians” destroyed 342 chests of tea.
The London, carrying 257 chests of taxed tea, arrived in Charlestown on December 1 that year. After sitting on the ship for 20 days, British customs officials, not patriots, seized the chests and stored them in the Exchange cellars.
This was a great embarrassment to local activists, particularly after the Boston Tea Party and after New York and Philadelphia shipments were forced to return to England.
To make matters worse, British customs officers seized the tea shipments of both the Magna Carta and Britannia. Finally, on Nov. 3, 1774, the local patriots got ahead of the customs officials and forced three Scottish merchants to dump the tea they had ordered into the harbor. This was the Charlestown Tea Party. It did not approach the destruction in Boston; seven chests were dumped.
The tea from the three customs seizures was auctioned off on Oct. 14, 1776, by the South Carolina government. It would be pleasing to think that the money went to support the revolution, but it can be said with certainty that the auction proceeds ended up in state coffers.
John R. Young