What was the Boston Tea Party and how many people took part in the protest?

The Boston Tea Party protest by colonists in Boston was the result of a growing resistance movement throughout British America against the Tea Act, which was passed by the British Parliament in 1773.

Historians say that on December 16, 1773, 50 to 100 ruffians disguised as “Indians,” complete with hatchets, ash-darkened skin, and war paint, attacked three British merchant ships loaded with tea, hacked open 342 chests of tea, and tossed them overboard into Boston Harbor, one by one.

It’s believed that brewer-patriot Samuel Adams directed the action but didn’t actually dirty his hands with war paint and tea. The most famous name you’d recognize from those who actually boarded the ships with a hatchet? Paul Revere.

Contrast the historians’ figure above with that of the Massachusetts Daughters of the American Revolution: The group’s website lists no fewer than 168 participants by name.

Now it could be that the historians are wrong. It’s also possible that the DAR is inflating the figures to expand their membership rolls.

More likely, though, as it is with most historical events, more people claimed to have participated than actually did.