On May 10, 1773, Parliament passed the Tea Act, which instituted a tax of three cents per pound on all British tea sold in America. The act effectively granted a monopoly on the sale of tea in the American colonies to the British East India Company, which was looking to reduce its excessive stores of tea and relieve its financial burdens. To commemorate the 250th anniversary of the Tea Act’s passage, James Vaughn, professor of history at the University of Chicago, discusses the political climate in Britain that informed the creation of the act, its passage through the House of Commons and developments in colonial American politics, and the public reactions to the act that deepened the imperial crisis.
About The Speaker
James M. Vaughn, Ph.D., is a professor of history at the University of Chicago whose research focuses on the British empire and the Atlantic world during the eighteenth century, as well as the American Revolution and the origins of liberal modernity in global context, ca. 1760-1815. After receiving his Ph.D. in history from the University of Chicago in 2009, Dr. Vaughn was an associate professor of history at the University of Texas at Austin from 2009 to 2019 and earned postdoctoral fellowships at Yale University (2011-2012) and Ohio University (2019-2021). He is the author of several articles and the book The Politics of Empire at the Accession of George III: The East India Company and the Crisis and Transformation of Britain’s Imperial State (Yale University Press, 2019), which provides new interpretations of the origins of British rule in India and of the global transformation of the British empire during the third quarter of the eighteenth century. Additionally, he is a co-editor and contributor to Enivisioning Empire: The New British World from 1763 to 1773, an anthology that examines the development of the British empire between the French and Indian War and the American Revolution. He is currently finalizing the publication of his second book, The East India Company and the English Revolution, ca. 1640-1714.