, Salem, MA


December 18, 2013

Where every day is a tea party

Swampscott's Ford is VP, executive director of museum recognizing historic event


Today’s Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum differs greatly from the one that opened in 1973, Ford said. It features live actors and high-tech, interactive exhibits.

Visitors become part of the story and are given a character card and a role to play in the events of Dec. 16, 1773. Those who took part in the destruction of all 342 chests of tea disguised themselves as Mohawk Indians, so each visitor is given a symbolic feather. Visitors also get to toss replica tea chests into the harbor.

There are two authentically restored tea ships at the museum, the Beaver and the Eleanor. Construction of a third ship, the Dartmouth, is scheduled to begin in Gloucester in 2014, built by master shipwright Leon Poindexter, who also has worked on the USS Constitution.

The museum even contains an authentic tea chest from the Tea Party, the Robinson Half Chest. It’s one of only two known to have survived.

Ford said Samuel Adams and those who took part in the destruction of the tea were taking on the British Empire, the most powerful nation on Earth at the time. They were risking everything — their homes and their livelihoods — “based on an ideal.”

While other Colonists were successful in preventing East India Company ships from unloading their tea, only in Boston did the Colonists rise up and dump the tea into the harbor.

“These Bostonians did that,” Ford said.

Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.

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