Annapolis Tea Party

WHILE the Continental Congress of 1774 was laying the broad foundations for a republic in the West, their constituents were gathering the materials for the building of the superstructure. They manifested their determination to resist oppression on all occasions. They would not yield a jot. Their maxims and their motives were not generated by sudden provocations, and liable to sudden dissolution. They were the offspring of eternal principles, and were everlasting in their vitality. This fact was manifested at Annapolis, in Maryland, long after the excitement occasioned by the destruction of tea in Boston harbor had subsided. No tea-ship had ever entered the port of Annapolis; but the people there, in the spring of 1774, had expressed their warm sympathy with the views and acts of the Sons of Liberty in Boston. Quiet had prevailed in that ancient town for some time, when, at the middle of October, 1774, at the very time when the Continental Congress was considering The American Associations that would make nonimportation universal in the colonies, a violation of the old agreement excited a tempest of indignation. On Saturday morning, the 15th of October, the ship Peggy Stewart, from London, owned by Anthony Stewart of Annapolis, sailed into that port, having among her cargo seventeen packages of tea. This fact soon became known, and the citizens were summoned to a mass-meeting. It was ascertained that the consignee had imported the tea, and that Mr. Stewart, the owner of the vessel, had paid the duty. The people, at that meeting, resolved that the tea should not be landed. They adjourned to the following Wednesday, and invited the inhabitants of the surrounding country to meet with them. Meanwhile Stewart had issued a handbill explaining the transaction, disclaiming all intention of violating the nonimportation agreement, and expressing his regret that any tea had been put on board his ship. The people would not listen to his excuses, for they believed them to be only the whining of a detected culprit. They were more disposed to punish than to forgive, and resolved that the ship and its cargo should be burned on Wednesday. Sober citizens were alarmed, for they feared the meeting, with such work on hand, might be changed into an unrestrainable mob. Charles Carroll of Carrollton advised Mr. Stewart, for the security of his own personal safety, and that of the town, to burn his vessel with his own hands before the next gathering of the people. Stewart consented to do so; and going on board his ship, with a few friends, he caused her to be run aground near Windmill Point and set on fire, in the presence of a multitude of people. He went ashore in a skiff, when he was cheered by the satisfied populace, who instantly dispersed. This was the last attempt to import tea during the colonial rule.

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