- Man: "I hear they've resolved to send the three ships back - cargo and all!"
- Woman: "Aye. But Governor Hutchinson refuses to let them leave. Wants us to take the tea, pay the duties, and say thank you kindly to the king."
- ―Two citizens discussing Hutchinson's stance on the Tea Act, 1773.[src]
Thomas Hutchinson (9 September 1711 – 3 June 1780) was a businessman, historian and lieutenant governor and later governor of Massachusetts from 1758 to 1774.
In 1765, Hutchinson's Boston mansion was ransacked and burned by angry protesters led by the Sons of Liberty and presumably Stephane Chapheau. This was done in protest of the Stamp Act, an attempt by the British Parliament to recoup the funds spent on the Seven Years' War. The Sons of Liberty were against the proposed taxes on printed materials in the act, believing that the authorities did not have the right to collect taxes from the colonists as they were not represented in Parliament.
In 1770, the Boston Massacre occured, in which 5 protesters were shot and killed by British troops, following hours of tense confrontations between the protesters and troops. In an effort to quell discontent, Hutchinson ordered the arrest of the soldiers responsible, as well as their commanding officer, Thomas Preston, until an investigation and establishment of facts could be made. Two of the soldiers were convicted of manslaughter, and had their thumbs branded in lieu of a death sentence. Protesters met at the Old South Meeting House to demand that Hutchinson remove British troops from Boston, to which the governor consented.
In an attempt to allow the East India Company to sell tea cheaply in the colonies, the Tea Act was introduced by the British Parliament in 1773. The act meant that taxes would have to be paid as soon as the tea was unloaded in Boston harbor. Many colonists viewed it as an attempt to trick them into agreeing to Parliament's authority over them.
Protesters wanted the ships carrying the tea sent back, but Hutchinson refused. As protests grew, colonists met at the Old South Meeting House. On 16 December, Samuel Adams and several of the protesters attempted to change Hutchinson's position during one of these meetings. At the end of the meeting, Adams remarked "This meeting can do nothing further to save the country".
He and several others, including William Molineux, Paul Revere, Chapheau and the Assassin Ratonhnhaké:ton headed off to Boston harbor and dumped the tea from the ships into the sea. In response to what became known as the Boston Tea Party, Hutchinson was replaced by Thomas Gage, whose troops occupied the city, and the Coercive Acts were passed in a failed attempt to quell civil discontent.