Kids and families participate and learn at the site of the Boston Tea Party

Aboard the Tea Party ship in Boston Harbor
Aboard the Tea Party ship in Boston Harbor

BOSTON (Day two or four) – HUZZAH!

It may be 90 degrees but we’re making believe it’s December—and we’ve time traveled back to 1773 –December 16, 1773 to be precise.

We’re part of the night that literally changed the course of American history—The Boston Tea Party, of course.

Welcome to the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum, which just celebrated its first anniversary. (Buy your tickets on line and save on the $25 adult and $15 child ticket.)

We attend a meeting as the colonists did in the Meeting House, distressed at King George III’s tax on tea.  We board one of the three ships in Boston Harbor, disguised as Mohawks (well, we each have a black feather!) and we “dump” tea in the harbor.

We hear the stories of the Sons of Liberty, the secret organization that carried out the raid, like John Crane, who was thought to have been killed but woke the next morning with nothing worse than a bad headache.  We learn about Sarah Fulton, who created the Mohawk disguises for the men who dumped the 340 chests of tea in the harbor.  Those chests weighed over 92,000 pounds and were worth more than $1.7 million in today’s dollars.  The event was witnessed by thousands and the implication was enormous for the Colonists and the Patriots.

“Dump the tea!” we’re told and we do—again and again, as the cubes are a lot lighter than they really were—some 360 pounds each!  And they are tied to the side of the boat.  “Do you want to pay the king’s tax?? “  NO!!!

The museum features two of the three historically accurate replica ships, the Beaver and the Eleanor, which took part in the Boston Tea Party.  The third, the Dartmouth, will begin construction next year.

We see the last remaining tea chest from that raid, picked up by John Robinson, a teenager the next morning, hidden under the stairs when he went off to fight in the Revolutionary War and passed down from his family generation after generation.  One woman generations later wrote a letter recalling how she kept her dolls in the box.

“I learned a lot more than I knew,” said 13 year old Alexis Lunsford, visiting from Sugarloaf, PA.

The experience gave 11 year old Hannah Kuklis from the Boston suburbs pause.  At first, she said, she would have sided with the loyalists “but then I would have changed my mind…you can see both sides here,” she added, noting that the museum “is more fun” than walking along Boston’s famous Freedom Trail.

Centuries of history at the Boston Tea Party Museum
Centuries of history at the Boston Tea Party Museum

The Museum experience—just a little more than an hour—is a mixture of visiting the ship with costumed interpreters—kids especially liked seeing the “crew” and learning  how they were so young.  Kids especially like going down into the cargo hold.  The areas where the crew “lived” were tiny!  It could take two months to get from Boston to England

Did you know the term “kidnapped” came from that era?  That’s because young boys were “nabbed” to work on these ships because no one wanted to do it, thus the term “kidnabbed…” 

It was not much fun—bed bugs, sea sicknesses, years away from home…

There are talking portraits—King George and Samuel Adams–who never met but their debate is taken from their journals and letters.   Through holographs, we meet two young women who seem right in front of us on the street—one a Loyalist and one a Patriot.

“I am loyal to our king,” the young woman named Catherine says staunchly.

“Have not 500 women pledged not to drink tea in Boston?” says Sarah.

We see a prize-winning movie, Let it Begin Here, that  that makes us feel as if we are there starting with Paul Revere’s famous ride to warn the patriots that the British soldiers were coming  and ending with the famous Battle of Lexington and Concord and “the shot heard round the world” that started the Revolutionary War.

The experience ends with the chance to have some tea in a tea shop. “Kids definitely should do this when they visit Boston,” said Hannah Kuklis.

Grown ups too.

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