Charleston Tea Party

First Charleston Tea Party - December 3, 1773


Before the Boston Tea Party, on December 1, 1773, the ship London arrived in Charles Town carrying 257 chests of tea. A meeting was called in the Great Hall of the Exchange regarding “UNCONSTITUTIONAL purposes of raising a revenue up us, WITHOUT OUR CONSENT”. 

The tea was confiscated and stored in the Exchange. No payment of tea taxes was made. Satisfied, the citizens allowed the tea to remain in Charles Town, only if locked away.

The Exchange Building where tea was held in 1773. Image credit: George N. Barnard, 1865.

Second Charleston Tea Party - November 1, 1774 


On November 1, 1774, the ship Britannia arrived in Charles Town captained by Samuel Ball, Jr. of the British East India Company.  The South Carolina Gazette reported that the “Minds of the People appeared to be very much agitated” by the arrival of seven chests of East Indian tea. An inquiry ensued with a refusal to unload the stowaway tea. Captain Ball did not deny “having the mischievous Drug on board”.

In his defense, Capt. Ball confessed that “his Mate had received them in his Absence”. The tea merchants were then induced to dump the chests overboard into the Cooper River as a sacrifice to “NEPTUNE”. As the tea was destroyed, many stood on the shore watching, and immediately dispersed after the dumping of the tea, “as if nothing had happened.”  

The HMS Britannia carried 7 chests of tea to Charles Town in 1774. Image credit: painting by George Hyde Chambers, 1834    



The South Carolina Gazette reported on events relating to the 2nd Charleston Tea Party, published November 21, 1774.  Photography: Kyle Brown. All Rights Reserved.