It is time to raise a tea cup and pay tribute to one of the great untold stories in American history – the fact that Charleston, South Carolina, held the nation’s first tea party in the years before the outbreak of the American Revolution.
The Charleston rebellion on December 3, 1773, came nearly two weeks before the more well-known tea party in Boston.
In honor of the 250-year anniversary of the historic event, a “Charleston Tea Party” will be held at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, December 2 in the city of Greenwood. The celebration will honor the revolutionary influencers and city merchants who protested the landing of the ship “London” in 1773 when it sailed into the Charles Town Harbour carrying 257 chests of tea.
The event, which is sponsored by the Issaqueena Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, will be held in the parish hall of the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection, located at 700 South Main Street. The program is open to the community, but tickets are required. Due to limited seating, guests are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance.
Julie Hardaway, the organizing regent of the Esther Marion Chapter in Aiken, will give a presentation, “The History of Tea and Its Effects on the American Revolution.” Her popular talk is a favorite among organizations throughout the Southeast. Hardaway is the Speakers Staff Coordinator for the South Carolina DAR and is a national vice chair in the administration of DAR President General Pamela Rouse Wright.
Dr. Franklin Rausch, a professor of history at Lander University, will discuss the “Revolutionary Influencers” from the Palmetto State who were involved with the Charleston Tea Party and became leading Patriots in the American Revolution. Rausch, who was named Lander’s Distinguished Professor of the Year in 2019, is a colonial re-enactor at the Ninety Six National Historic Site and participates in historical re-enactments throughout the state.
What led to the colonists’ rebellions?
“Colonists were poked and prodded to the point of being enraged after repeated acts and grabs for power and money by King George III and Parliament. These included the Townshend Revenue Act (1767), The Tea Act (1773) and The Coercive/Restraining Acts (1774),” Hardaway said. “This led to protests and boycotts of British imports, including tea.”
Many people wonder why the Charleston Tea Party has not received the prominent attention that other similar events have gotten over the years.
“The first Charleston Tea Party on December 3, 1773, came before the more famous one in Boston,” Hardaway said, noting that the actions of the Sons of Liberty in Boston were more flamboyant than the reserved measures of the Charleston leaders.
“But the Charlestonians were smarter than the Bostonians! They seized the tea and stored it in the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon, later selling it to finance the Revolution in South Carolina,” she said.
When the ship “London” arrived in Charles Town’s port on December 1, 1773, carrying 257 chests of tea, the South Carolina Gazette newspaper reported that Charleston leaders and merchants met to discuss the “UNCONSTITUTIONAL purposes of raising a revenue upon us, WITHOUT OUR CONSENT.”
According to the December 6, 1773, issue of the newspaper, “so great a quantity of tea arriving at once, under such circumstances, just gave an (sic) universal alarm.”
The newspaper also made a plea “to the ladies,” with a warning from 18th-century Swiss physician, Dr. Samuel Auguste Tissot, about the impact of “the infamous tea” on a person’s health. “This most pernicious gift … destroys the strength of the stomach, and, if not laid aside, equally destroys that of the viscera, the blood, the nerves and the whole body.”
Tickets are $25 per person. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased online via PayPal to [email protected]. Those who wish to pay by cash or check may contact the Issaqueena Chapter, NSDAR by sending an email to that same address.
For questions about the event, send an email to [email protected] or call 803-477-1971.
CUTLINE: Julie Hardaway, of the South Carolina Daughters of the American Revolution, will be a guest speaker at the Charleston Tea Party celebration in Greenwood.