To teach the rebellious colonists a lesson and to show them who was boss, George III sent soldiers to America and imposed new taxes, including a tax on tea . So in 1773, in Boston, Massachusetts, some people decided to show King George what they thought of that tax. They disguised themselves as Indians, climbed on a ship in Boston harbor, and threw a whole load of good English tea into the ocean . An American named George Hewes recalled that fateful day: "Having painted my face and hands with coal dust in the shop of a blacksmith, I repaired to Griffin's Wharf where the ships lay that contained the tea.... We then were ordered by our commander to open the hatches and take out all the chests of tea and throw them overboard, and we immediately proceeded to execute his orders, first cutting and splitting the chests with our tomahawks, so as to thoroughly expose the tea to the effects of the water ."
Americans called it the Boston Tea Party, but the British called it an outrage. King George was furious. So, in what became known as the "Intolerable Acts," he and Parliament closed down the Massachusetts legislature and shut the port of Boston , throwing half the citizens out of work. Unable to fish, people worried that they might starve. But now the other colonies, which had never paid much attention to one another, started to feel sorry for Boston and angry with the king. A Virginian named Theodorick Bland wrote, "The question is, whether the rights and liberties of America shall be contended for, or given up to arbitrary powers." It was no longer enough just wanting to be treated like grownups. Now the colonists were thinking seriously about breaking awayabout being free. And in Boston, a fiery patriot helped spark them into action. He was Samuel Adams, a pudgy, rumpled-looking man who was a real troublemaker. Adams got prominent citizens to write back and forth between colonies and help each other with problems. He called them "committees of correspondence." The colonists hadn't known each other well before; now Massachusetts was writing to South Carolina; they were sharing thoughts and concerns . Sam Adams also started groups called Sons of Liberty, that met to talk about freedom. In Boston they met under an old elm that Adams named The Liberty Tree. The English called Sam Adams an outlaw; they wanted to hang him. But Sam Adams was different from rebels in other times. He wanted more than just separation from England. He was inspired by a grander idea: that America could be a special nation where people would be free of kings and princes. A nation where, for the first time in all of history, people could truly rule themselves. A free nation. "We cannot make events," Sam once wrote. "Our business is wisely to improve them ."