Yorktown Tea Party prepares to toast 250 years of defiance

Yorktown Tea Party prepares to toast 250 years of defiance

Yorktown Tea Party prepares to toast 250 years of defiance

Less famous cousin to Boston Tea Party is equally ‘steeped’ in history

Mike Frontiero

RICHMOND, VA (December 4, 2023) – As the 250th anniversary of the world famous Boston Tea Party approaches December 16, plans are ‘brewing’ in Virginia to commemorate another pivotal moment in American history. The Yorktown Tea Party, often overshadowed by its Boston counterpart, will be marked with a weeklong commemoration in November 2024.

“It’s crucial to remember that the Boston Tea Party was not an isolated incident,” said Michael Steen, director of education at the Watermen’s Museum and chair of the Yorktown Tea Party 250th Anniversary Planning Committee.

Similar protests against British taxation and the lack of colonial representation in Parliament occurred throughout the colonies, including Charleston, South Carolina, which commemorated the 250th anniversary of its tea party yesterday, December 3rd; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Wilmington and Edenton, North Carolina; Annapolis, Maryland; and Greenwich, New Jersey.

“While the Boston Tea Party is widely celebrated, Yorktown’s remains relatively unknown,” Steen said. “In ‘reali-tea,’ it held just as much significance in shaping the course of American history.”

York County residents learned that despite the passage of a resolution to boycott such English goods as tea, Williamsburg merchant John Prentis had ordered tea from London. In retaliation, members of the York County Committee of Safety, led by Thomas Nelson Jr., paraded from the Swan Tavern on Main Street in Yorktown to the waterfront docks on November 7, 1774. They climbed aboard the ship Virginia and emptied two half chests of tea into the York River. Facing searing condemnation from his colleagues and neighbors, Prentis printed a public apology.

The Yorktown Tea Party was a bold and defiant act that echoed the spirit of the Boston Tea Party 11 months earlier and sent a clear message to the British authorities that Virginians were united in their opposition to taxation without representation. This event, along with countless others, fueled the growing revolutionary spirit that ultimately led to the American Revolution.

The Virginia American Revolution 250 Commission (VA250) is a partner in the commemoration. It will feature a variety of events, including historical reenactments, educational lectures, and community gatherings. Details will be available in the coming months.

“As we commemorate this anniversary, let us remember the men and women who stood up for what they believed in, even in the face of tyranny,” said Virginia American Revolution 250 Commission Chair Del. Terry L. Austin. “Their courage and determination helped to lay the foundation for our nation’s freedom.”

About the Virginia American Revolution 250 Commission
The Virginia American Revolution 250 Commission (VA250) is a bipartisan legislative commission established by the Virginia General Assembly in 2020 to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the American Revolution in Virginia. The Commission’s mission is to develop and implement a statewide commemoration that is comprehensive, educational, and inspiring.

High resolution image
Caption: Oil painting depicting the Yorktown Tea Party, Virginia’s counterpart to the Boston Tea Party.
Credit: The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

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