The 250th anniversary of the Charleston Tea Party

Boston wasn’t the only city that protested.

Old Exhange Building downtown Charleston

Come see where the tea was stored in 1773.

Photo provided by @theoldexchange

Think about it: we all remember being in school and learning about the Boston Tea Party as part of American history, but did you know we did it first? Yep, you heard that right. The Charleston Tea Party took place 13 days before the famous Boston one.

The protest

Let’s do a quick history refresh. You may recall the phrase “No taxation without representation,” which colonists used in the mid-18th century. The British government taxed certain goods, and American colonists weren’t amused.

Charleston wasn’t excluded from the opposition, and in December of 1773, more than 250 chests of tea arrived at the Charleston Harbor, and locals decided not to pay, which forced the tea to sit on the boat. After 20 days unclaimed, the tea was taken and stored in the Exchange Building. Read more about the protest.

250th Anniversary party

The South Carolina American Revolution Sestercentennial Commission will host Charleston’s 250th Anniversary Tea Party this Saturday, Dec. 2, at 10 a.m.

Banner for the 250th anniversary of the Charleston Tea Party

Come watch the tea.

Photo provided by theoldexchange

This free event is open to all and will begin in front of the Old Exchange Building & Provost Dungeon at 122 E. Bay St. The public is encouraged to assemble in front of the building ahead of the starting time. Traffic will be blocked along short sections of Broad and East Bay Streets.

A theatrical reenactment of Charleston’s Tea Party protest will occur on the front portico of the building. This performance includes costumed “townspeople” and help from the audience and will last ~40 minutes. Afterward, attendees can tour the basement of the Exchange and enjoy a tea tasting.

Pro tip: Attendees can also get free admission for the day at:

  • The Powder Magazine Museum
  • South Carolina Historical Society Museum
  • The garden and outbuildings of the Heyward Washington House
  • Spirit of South Carolina