Documents for 1773 and the Boston Tea Party

The Philadelphia Resolutions October 16, 1773

[printed: The Pennsylvania Gazette, 20 October 1773.]

1, That the disposal of their own property is the inherent right of freemen; that there can be no property in that which another can, of right, take from us without our consent; that the claim of Parliament to tax America is, in other words, a claim of right to levy contributions on us at pleasure.

2, That the duty imposed by Parliament upon tea landed in America is a tax on the Americans, or levying contributions on them without their consent.

3, That the express purpose for which the tax is levied on the Americans, namely for the support of government, administration of justice, and defence of his Majesty', dominions in America, has a direct tendency to render assemblies useless and to introduce arbitrary government and slavery.

4. That a virtuous and steady opposition to this ministerial plan of governing America is absolutely necessary to preserve even the shadow of liberty and is a duty which every freeman in America owes to his country, to himself, and to his posterity.

5. That the resolutions lately entered into by the East India Comy. any to send out their tea to America, subject to the payment of duties on its being landed here, is an open attempt to enforce this ministerial plan and a violent attack upon the liberties of America.

6. That it is the duty of every American to oppose this attempt.

7. That whoever shall, directly or indirectly, countenance this attempt or in any wise aid or abet in unloading, receiving, or vending the tea sent or to be sent out by the East India Company while it remains subject to the payment of a duty here, is an enemy to his country.

8. That a committee be immediately chosen to wait on those gentlemen who, it is reported, are appointed by the East India Company to receive and sell said tea and request them, from a regard to their own characters and the peace and good order of the city and province, immediately to resign their appointment.

Philadelphia Handbills



We took the pleasure, some days since, of kindly admonishing you to do your duty if perchance you should meet with the (tea) ship Polly, Captain Ayres, a three decker which is hourly expected. We have now to add that matters ripen fast here; and that much is expected from those lads who meet with the tea ship. There is some talk of a handsome reward for the pilot who gives the first good account of her. How that may be, we cannot for certain determine. But all agree that tar and feathers will be his portion who pilots her into this harbour. And we will answer for ourselves that whoever is committed to us as an offender against the rights of America will experience the utmost exertion of our abilities, as


P.S. We expect you will furnish yourselves with copies of the foregoing and following letter which are printed for this purpose, that the pilot who meets with Captain Ayres may favour him with a sight.



TO CAPT. AYRES Of the Ship Polly, on a Voyage from London to Philadelphia


We are informed that you have imprudently, taken charge of a quantity of tea which has been sent out by the India Company, under the auspices of the ministry as a trial of American virtue and resolution.

Now, as your cargo, on your arrival here, will most assuredly bring you into hot water; and as you are perhaps a stranger to these parts, we have concluded to advise you of the present situation of affairs it Philadelphia that, taking time by the forelock, you may stop short in your dangerous errand-secure your ship against the rafts of combustible matter which may be set on fire and turned loose against her; and more than all this, that you may preserve your own person from the pitch and feathers that are prepared for you.

In the first place, we must tell you that the Pennsylvanians are, to a man, passionately fond of freedom, the birthright of Americans, and at all events are determined to enjoy it.

That they sincerely believe no power on the face of the earth has a right to tax them without their consent.

That in their opinion the tea in your custody is designed by the ministry to enforce such a tax which they will undoubtedly oppose, and in so doing, give you every possible obstruction.

We are nominated to a very disagreeable, but necessary service-to our care are committed all offenders against the rights of America; and hapless is he, whose evil destiny has doomed him to suffer at our hands.

You are sent out on a diabolical service; and if you are so foolish and obstinate as to complete your voyage by bringing your ship to anchor in this port, you may run such a gauntlet as will induce you in your last moments most heartily to curse those who have made you the dupe of their avarice and ambition.

What think you Captain, of a halter around your neck--ten gallons of liquid tar decanted on your pate--with the feathers of a dozen wild geese laid over that to enliven your appearance?

Only think seriously of this and fly to the place from whence you came-fly without hesitation--without the formality of a protest--and above all, Captain Ayres, let us advise you to fly without the wild geese feathers.

Your friends to serve

THE COMMITTEE, as before subscribed Philadelphia, Nov. 27, 1773.


The regard we have For your characters and our desire to promote your future peace and safety are the occasion of this third address to you.

In our second letter we acquainted you that the tea ship was a three decker.

We are now informed by good authority she is not a three decker, but an old black ship without a head or any ornaments.

The Captain is a short fat fellow, and a little obstinate withal. So much the worse for him. for, so sure as he rides rusty, we shall heave him keel out and see that his bottom be well fired, scrubbed, and paid. His upper-works, too, will have an overhauling; and as it is said he has a good deal of quick work about him, we will take particular care that such part of him undergoes a thorough rummaging.

We have a still worse account of his owner; for it is said the ship Polly was bought by him on purpose to make a penny of us and that he and Captain Ayres were well advised of the risk they would run in thus daring to insult and abuse us.

Captain Ayres was here in the time of the Stamp Act and ought to have known our people better than to have expected we would be so mean as to suffer his rotten t.ea to be funnelled down our throats with the Parliament's duty mixed with it.

We know him well and have calculated to a gill and a feather how much it will require to fit him for an American exhibition. And we hope not one of your body will behave so ill as to oblige us to clap him in the cart along side of the Captain.

We must repeat that the ship Polly is an old black ship of about two hundred aud fifty tons burthen, without a head, and without ornaments, and that Captain Ayres is a thick, chunky fellow. As such, take care to avoid them.

Your old friends,


Philadelphia, December 7, 1773.


Printed: The Pennsylvania Magazine of History And Biography, XV (1891), pp. 390-391.

Resolves of New York Sons of Liberty, December 15, 1773

. . . In hopes of aid in the execution of this project, by the influence of the owners of the American ships, application was made by the company to the captains of those ships to take the tea on freight; but they virtuously rejected it. Still determined on the scheme, they have chartered ships to bring the tea to this country, which may be hourly expected, to make an important trial of our virtue. If they succeed in the sale of that tea, we shall have no property that we can call our own, and then we may bid adieu to American liberty. Therefore, to prevent a calamity which, of all others, is the most to be dreaded--slavery and its terrible concomitants--we, the subscribers, being influence from a regard to liberty and disposed to use all lawful endeavors in our power, to defeat the pernicious project and to transmit to our posterity, those blessings of freedom which our ancestors have handed down to us; and to contribute to the support of the common liberties of America, which are in danger to be subverted, do, for those important purposes, agree to associate together, under the name and style of the sons of New York, and engage our honor to, and with each other faithfully to observe and perform the following resolutions, viz.

1st. Resolved, That whoever shall aid, or abet, or in any manner assist, in the/ introduction of tea, from any place whatsoever, into this colony, while it is subject, by a British act of parliament, to the payment of a duty, for the purpose of raising a revenue in America, he shall be deemed an enemy to the liberties of America.

2d. Resolved, That whoever shall be aiding, or assisting, in the landing, or carting of such tea, from any ship, or vessel, or shall hire any house, store-house, or cellar or any place whatsoever, to deposit the tea, subject to a duty as aforesaid, he shall be deemed an enemy to the liberties of America.

3d. Resolved, That whoever shall sell, or buy, or in any manner contribute to the sale, or purchase of tea, subject to a duty as aforesaid, or shall aid or abet in transporting such tea, by land or water, from this city, until the 7th George 11 chap. 46, commonly called the revenue act, shall be totally and clearly repealed, he shall be deemed an enemy to the liberties of America.

4th. Resolved, That whether the duties on tea imposed by this act, be paid in Great Britain or in America, our liberties are equally affected.

5th. Resolved, That whoever shall transgress any of these resolutions, we will not deal with, or employ, or have any connection with him.

This Document was prepared by Peter King
Last modification date: 23-12-96