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Those who undertook to preserve any of the poisonous herb were sharply looked after by the patriots. A Boston paper of January 3, 1774, says:

    "Whereas, it was reported that one Withington, of Dorchester, had taken up and partly disposed of a chest of the East India Company's tea, a number of the Cape or Narragansett Indians went to the house of Captain Ebenezer Withington, and his brother Phillip, last Friday evening, and thoroughly searched their houses, without offering the least offence to any one. Finding no tea, they proceeded to the house of old Mr. Ebenezer Withington, at a place called Sodom, below Dorchester Meeting House, where they found part of a half-chest, which had floated, and was cast up on Dorchester Point. This they seized and brought to Boston Common, where they committed it to the flames."

Benjamin Simpson, a bricklayer's apprentice, says:

    "After the meeting in the Old South was over, there was a cry in the gallery of 'every man to his tent.' We repaired to the wharf. I went on board both ships, but saw no person belonging to them. In a few minutes a number of men came on the wharf, (with the Indian pow-wow,) went on board the ships, then lying at the side of the wharf, the water in the dock not more than two feet deep. They began to throw the tea into the water, which went off with the tide till the tea grounded. We soon found there was tea on board the brig also. A demand being made of it, the captain told us the whole of his cargo was on board; that the tea was directly under the hatches, which he would open if we would not damage anything but the tea, which was agreed to. The hatches were then opened, a man sent down to show us the tea, which we hoisted out, stove the chests and threw tea and all overboard. Those on board the ships did the same. I was on board the ships when the tea was so high by the side of them as to fall in, which was shovelled down more than once. We on board the brig were not disguised. I was then nineteen years old; I am now (1830) seventy-five."

Peter, the son of Benjamin Edes, the printer, in a letter to his grandson, Benjamin C. Edes, written in 1836, says of the tea party:

    "I know but little about it, as I was not admitted into their presence, for fear, I suppose, of their being known.... I recollect perfectly well that in the afternoon preceding the evening of the destruction of the tea, a number of gentlemen met in the parlor of my father's house,--how many I cannot say. As I said before, I was not admitted into their presence; my station was in another room, to make punch for them, in the bowl[20] which is now in your possession, and which I filled several times. They remained in the house till dark,--I suppose to disguise themselves like Indians,--when they left the house, and proceeded to the wharves where the vessels lay. Before they reached there they were joined by hundreds. I thought I would take a walk to the wharves as a spectator, where was collected, I may say, as many as two thousand persons. The Indians worked smartly. Some were in the hold immediately after the hatches were broken open, fixing the ropes to the tea-chests, others were breaking open the chests, and others stood ready with hatchets to cut off the bindings of the chests and cast them overboard. I remained till I was tired, and fearing some disturbance might occur, went home, leaving the Indians working like good, industrious fellows. This is all I know about it."

The account given by General Ebenezer Stevens to his son, Horatio Gates Stevens, is as follows:

    "I went from the Old South Meeting House just after dark. The party was about seventy or eighty. At the head of the wharf we met the detachment of our company (Paddock's Artillery) on guard, who joined us. I commenced with a party on board the vessel of which Hodgdon[21] was mate, (the 'Dartmouth') and as he knew me, I left that vessel with some of my comrades and went aboard another vessel, which lay at the opposite side of the wharf. Numbers of others took our places on board Hodgdon's vessel. We commenced handing the boxes of tea on deck, and first began breaking them with axes, but found much difficulty, owing to the boxes of tea being covered with canvas,--the mode that the article was then imported in. I think that all the tea was destroyed in about two hours. We were careful to prevent any being taken away. None of the party were painted as Indians, nor, that I know of, disguised, excepting that some of them stopped at a paint shop on the way, and daubed their faces with paint."

[Illustration: Signature, Alexander Hodgdon]

Robert Sessions, of South Wilbraham, (now Hampden) Mass., another actor in the scene, says:

    "I was living in Boston at the time, in the family of a Mr. Davis, a lumber merchant, as a common laborer. On that eventful evening, when Mr. Davis came in from the town meeting, I asked him what was to be done with the tea. 'They are now throwing it overboard,' he replied. Receiving permission, I went immediately to the spot. Everything was as light as day, by the means of lamps and torches; a pin might be seen lying on the wharf. I went on board where they were at work, and took hold with my own hands. I was not one of those appointed to destroy the tea, and who disguised themselves as Indians, but was a volunteer; the disguised men being largely men of family and position in Boston, while I was a young man, whose home and relations were in Connecticut. The appointed and disguised party proving too small for the quick work necessary, other young men, similarly circumstanced with myself, joined them in their labors. The chests were drawn up by a tackle,--one man bringing them forward, another putting a rope around them, and others hoisting them to the deck and carrying them to the vessel's side. The chests were then opened, the tea emptied over the side, and the chests thrown overboard. Perfect regularity prevailed during the whole transaction. Although there were many people on the wharf, entire silence prevailed,--no clamor, no talking. Nothing was meddled with but the teas on board. After having emptied the whole, the deck was swept clean, and everything put in its proper place. An officer on board was requested to come up from the cabin and see that no damage was done except to the tea. At about the close of the scene, a man was discovered making his way through the crowd with his pockets filled with tea. He was immediately laid hold of, and his coat skirts torn off, with their pockets, and thrown into the dock with the rest of the tea. I was obliged to leave the town at once, as it was of course known that I was concerned in the affair."

William Tudor, then a law student in the office of John Adams, and acquainted with some of the members of the tea party, gives in his "Life of James Otis," the following account of it:

    "A band of eighteen or twenty young men (no one of whom was in any disguise), who had been prepared for the event, went by the Meeting House giving a shout. It was echoed by some within; others exclaimed, 'the Mohawks are come!;' the assembly broke up and a part of it followed this body of young men to Griffin's wharf. Three different parties, composed of trust-worthy persons, many of whom were in after life among the most respectable citizens of the town, had been prepared, in conformity to the secret resolves of the political leaders, to act as circumstances should require. They were seventy or eighty in all, and when every attempt to have the tea returned had failed, it was immediately made known to them, and they proceeded at once to throw the obnoxious merchandise into the water. One, if not two of these parties, wore a kind of Indian disguise. Two of these persons, in passing over Fort Hill to the scene of operations, met a British officer who, on observing them, naturally enough drew his sword. As they approached, one of the Indians drew a pistol, and said to the officer, 'The path is wide enough for us all; we have nothing to do with you, and intend you no harm; if you keep your own way peaceably, we shall keep ours."

Henry Purkitt, Samuel Sprague and John Hooten, (all living in 1835,) were apprentices of about the same age. Purkitt and Dolbear were apprentices with Peck, the cooper, in Essex Street. While at their work they heard a loud whistle, which startled them, and which they followed till it brought them to the wharf. Their part of the play was on the flats, by the side of one of the vessels,--for it was nearly low tide,--and with other boys, by direction of the commander, to break up more thoroughly the fragments of chests and masses of tea thrown over in too great haste. They found their return upon deck much facilitated by the immense pile which had accumulated beneath and around them. The commander acted as an interpreter for those persons,--apparently five or six aboard each vessel,--who especially assumed the Indian guise. These were no doubt among the principal directors of the whole affair. They affected to issue their orders from time to time in an Indian jargon, the interpreter communicating what the chiefs said; attended to the procuring of keys and lights, the raising of the derricks, trampling the tea into the mud, sweeping the decks at the close of the scene, calling up the mate to report whether everything (except, of course, the tea) was left as they found it, etc.

Purkitt and Dolbear went home early. Peck, who was believed to be one of the chiefs, came in rather softly, at one o'clock in the morning. The boys noticed some indications of red paint behind his ears, next day. The only tools they used were staves, which they made before starting.