After the Boston Massacre


The Boston Massacre trials had brought Adams great success as a lawyer. Within a decade of establishing his practice he had one of the heaviest caseloads of any lawyer in Massachusetts, nearly 450 cases. His clients were wealthy merchants, politicians and the country’s elite. To add to his success as a lawyer Adams was chosen to be the secretary of the Suffolk County’s new bar association and a member of the House of Representatives.

At the beginning of 1771 Adams fell ill from exhaustion and stress from the demands of his practice and his new political obligations. He and his family moved back to Braintree.

Tea Act and the Boston Tea Party

The Tea Act was approved by British Parliament on May 10, 1773. It actually placed no new tax on tea and was not designed to increase revenue. The purpose of the Tea Act was to benefit the East India Company by giving them the exclusive right to sell tea in the colonies and creating a monopoly which the colonists perceived as another means of “taxation without representation”. The Act also eliminated the middlemen so the tea would be sold cheaply even at a lower price than the smuggled Dutch tea.

Boston’s Sons of Liberty soon regrouped and took their protest to the streets. On the cold winter night of December 16th around 500 men and women met in the Old North Church to protest the imminent arrival of a tea cargo in the Dartmouth. As Hutchinson insisted on the vessel docking in the port of Boston, protestors wearing Indian costumes and calling themselves Mohawks headed to the Dartmouth and destroyed the 342 chests of tea worth at least £10,000, equivalent to $1,000,000 today. They called it the Boston Tea Party.

John Adams played no part in the Boston Tea Party but he knew that the destruction of the tea would bring serious consequences to Massachusetts. Adams thought that the Boston Tea Party was inevitable and supported the action. Punishing measures came in the form of Coercive Acts also known as Intolerable Acts in the spring of 1774. At this time Adams had begun to play a more active role in politics but much of it remained behind the scenes. He served in several committees and for the first time he served as a moderator of a town meeting. John Adams, along with Samuel Adams, Thomas Cushing and Robert Treat Paine were selected to represent Massachusetts in the First Continental Congress attended by representatives from the thirteen colonies. They met to discuss the punitive measures and organize a united force of resistance.

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