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What Happened At Hubbard's Wharf?

The pivotal and dramatic event known to history as the Boston Tea Party occurred at Griffin's Wharf on 16 December 1773. In 3 hours, 342 chests of tea were taken from 2 ships (Dartmouth and Eleanor) tied up at Griffin's Wharf and from the brig Beaver anchored nearby. The chests were broken open and the tea was dumped into the water. This event, more than any other, is seen as setting into motion the chain of events that resulted in the Revolutionary War, and eventually the independence of the colonies.

Hubbard's Wharf was located about 170 yards east of Griffin's Wharf at the end of Oliver Street, near the presentday western end of the Evelyn Moakley Bridge (where Seaport Blvd. crosses the Fort Point Channel). On 7 March 1774, another separate incident involving tea occurred when 28 and 1/2 chests of tea were thrown overboard at Hubbard's Wharf from the brig Fortune. Labaree, p.166 and Harris, p.66 describe it as Boston having had "its second tea party.". By the time this occurred, the measure has already been introduced in parliament which would result in the closing of the Boston Harbor by the British.

This event at Hubbard's Wharf:

  • occurred almost 3 months after the Boston Tea Party
  • involved only 1/12 the quantity of tea involved in the Boston Tea Party
  • involved a single vessel
  • did not involve tea owned by the East India Company but was instead a consignment between merchants
  • while offensive to the British, played no part in the decision to close Boston Harbor
  • was one of several similar and smaller follow-on events (e.g., in NY and MD) in the months after the Boston Tea Party, in which tea was destroyed to prevent payment of tax.
  • is likely the basis for the mistaken conclusion that Hubbard's Wharf was the site of the Boston Tea Party, often expressed as "near the Northern Avenue Bridge (Evelyn Moakley Bridge)".


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