Tea: Consumption, Politics, and Revolution, 1773–1776

Book Launch with Dr. James Fichter

Monday, December 11

Join Revolutionary Spaces on Monday, December 11 at the Old South Meeting House for a discussion with Dr. James Fichter of the University of Hong Kong to mark the publication of his new book Tea: Consumption, Politics, and Revolution, 1773–1776. Dr. Fichter will be joined in conversation with Dr. Nathaniel Sheidley, President and CEO of Revolutionary Spaces.

In his new book, Dr. Fichter reveals a new dimension of the Boston Tea Party by exploring a story largely overlooked for the last 250 years—The fate of two large shipments of East India Company tea that survived and were drunk in North America. The book challenges the prevailing wisdom around the tea protests and consumer boycotts while showing the economic reality behind political rhetoric: Colonists did not turn away from tea as they became revolutionary Americans. While history records the noisy protests and prohibitions of patriots, merchant ledgers reveal that tea and British goods continued to be widely sold and consumed.

By bringing different locations and events into the story and reinterpreting old ones, Dr. Fichter shows how the continuing risk that these shipments would be sold shaped colonial politics in the years ahead. He also hints at the enduring potency of consumerism in revolutionary politics.

Following the reading and discussion, guests will have the opportunity to purchase their own copy of the book. Dr. Fichter will be available to sign copies and answer questions. This program is free and open to the public. Doors will open at 5:30 pm and the program will begin at 6:00 pm. Light snacks and refreshments will be provided. Click here for more information about Tea: Consumption, Politics, and Revolution, 1773–1776.

This program is made possible by the generous support of The Lowell Institute.

About the Speakers

JAMES FICHTER is Associate Professor of European and American Studies at the University of Hong Kong, where he teaches courses on maritime history, the revolutionary Atlantic, and World War I. Fichter is also the author of So Great a Profit: How the East Indies Transformed Anglo-American Capitalism (Harvard, 2010) and editor of British and French Colonialism in Africa, Asia and the Middle East: Connected Empires across the Eighteenth to the Twentieth Centuries (Palgrave, Cambridge Imperial and Post-Colonial Studies, 2019), as well as author of various articles. His next monograph, Suez Passage to India: Britain, France, and the Great Game at Sea, 1798-1885, examines the interconnections between the British and French Empires in Asian waters, from Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt in 1798 to the Sino-French War in 1885. He received a BA in history and international studies from Brown University in 2001, and a Ph.D. from Harvard University in 2006.

DR. NATHANIEL SHEIDLEY is the President and CEO of Revolutionary Spaces. He was formerly Executive Director of the Bostonian Society and Assistant Professor of American and Native American History at Wellesley College. He is a graduate of Stanford University and holds a Ph.D. in American History from Princeton University. Sheidley is a programmatically daring historian whose leadership has reimagined public history at the center of Boston’s cultural landscape. His work is guided by a deeply held belief that public history at its best can do more than tell us about the past; it can also deepen our understanding of the present and equip us to build a more just and equitable future. Sheidley curated and provided creative direction for numerous exhibitions and programs, including Blood on the Snow, an immersive, site-specific work of theater written by playwright Patrick Gabridge that dramatizes the pivotal aftermath of the Boston Massacre in the very room where the events took place.

Stream This Event Live

This event will be streamed live by the WGBH Forum Network. Click below to view on YouTube.


Monday, December 11, 2023

Doors Open: 5:30 PM
Program Begins: 6:00 PM

Old South Meeting House

Admission is free.


Free Registration

Boston Tea Party 250th Anniversary

Revolutionary Spaces thanks our Boston Tea Party 250th Anniversary Commemoration Transformational Partner Meet Boston Foundation for supporting transformational experiences in this critical anniversary year.