Burning of the Peggy Stewart

Introduction

Burning of the Peggy StewartThe brig Peggy Stewart, Captain Jackson, from London, having on board seventeen packages, containing 2320 lb. of that detestable weed tea, arrived here on Friday last. The tea was consigned to Thomas Charles Williams and company, merchants in this city. Those of the committee for Anne-Arundel county who were in town, hearing of the arrival of said vessel, met in the afternoon, and were informed the said vessel had been entered in the forenoon of that day and the duty on the tea paid to the collector by Mr. Anthony Stewart, one of the owners of said brig.-- Four only of the committee being present, it was thought adviseable to call a meeting of the people.-- Notice was thereupon immediately given.-- Many of the inhabitants, together with a number of gentlemen from Anne-Arundel, Baltimore, and other counties, who were attending the provincial court, met, and having called before them the importers and the Captain of the ship, together with the deputy collector -- the question was moved and seconded, whether the tea should be landed in America or not; and the question being put, was unanimously determined in the negative. A committee of twelve persons was thereupon appointed to attend landing the other goods on board said vessel, and to prevent landing the tea. After which the meeting adjourned to Wednesday the 19th, at a 11 o'clock. At which time the members of the committee, and other the inhabitants of the county, were requested to attend at this place. In consequence of this adjournment, a great number of very respectable gentlemen from Anne-Arundel, Baltimore, and Prince George's counties met here, and amongst others, eight of the committee for Anne-Arundel County. Those of the committee proceeded to examine into the affair, calling before them Messrs. James and Joseph Williams, and Anthony Stewart, and also took into consideration, an offer made by said William's and Stewart, to destroy the tea, and make such concessions as might be satisfactory to the committee and the people assembled. The committee were of opinion, if the tea was destroyed by the voluntary act of the owners, and proper concessions made, that nothing further ought to be required. This their opinion being reported to the assembly, was not satisfactory to all present. Mr. Stewart then voluntarily offered to burn the vessel and the tea in her, and that proper acknowledgements should be made and published in the Maryland Gazette. Those acknowledgements were accordingly made....

After which Mr. Stewart, and Messrs. James and Joseph Williams, owners of the tea, went on board said vessel with her sails and colours flying, and voluntarily set fire to the tea, and in a few hours, the whole, together with the vessel, was consumed in the presence of a great number of spectators.

Source: Annapolis, (Maryland) Oct. 20. The brig Peggy Stewart, Captain from London having on board seventeen packages containing 2320 lb of that detestable weed tea arrived here on Friday last ...[After making public acknowledgement] owners of the tea went on board said vessel with her sails and colours flying, and voluntarily set fire to the tea [Annapolis: Printed by Anne Catharine Green, 1774].

National History Standards

Materials compiled in this document can be used by educators to fulfill the following National History Standards for Grades 5-12:

Era 3: Revolution and the New Nation (1754-1820s)

Standard 1: The causes of the American Revolution, the ideas and interests involved in forging the revolutionary movement, and the reasons for the American victory

Standard 1A: The student understands the causes of the American Revolution. 

5-12: Compare the arguments advanced by defenders and opponents of the new imperial policy on the traditional rights of English people and the legitimacy of asking the colonies to pay a share of the costs of empire. [Consider multiple perspectives] 
5-12: Reconstruct the chronology of the critical events leading to the outbreak of armed conflict between the American colonies and England. [Establish temporal order] 

Primary Resources

  1. TITLE: The Burning of the Peggy Stuart
    ARTIST: Francis Blackwell Mayer (1827-1899)
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1896
    SOURCE: Maryland Commission on Artistic Property Collection, MSA SC 1545-1111
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives

  2. TITLE: The brig Peggy Stewart, Captain from London having on board seventeen packages containing 2320 lb of that detestable weed tea arrived here on Friday last ...[After making public acknowledgement] owners of the tea went on board said vessel with her sails and colours flying, and voluntarily set fire to the tea.
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: Annapolis: Printed by Anne Catharine Green, 1774
    SOURCE:
    An American Time Capsule: Three Centuries of Broadsides and Other Printed Ephemera

  3. TITLE: [An account of the events surrounding the burning of the Peggy Stewart]
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: October 20, 1774 in the Maryland Gazette (Annapolis)
    SOURCE: Peter Force, American Archives, 4th series, vol. 1. Washington, D.C.: St. Clair Clarke & Peter Force, 1837, pp. 885-86
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives, MSA SC 2221-2-11

  4. TITLE: [Reprint of an article from the London Publick Ledger of January 4, 1775 concerning the burning of the Peggy Stewart]
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: April 10, 1775 in the Maryland Gazette
    SOURCE: Peter Force, American Archives, 4th series, vol. 2. Washington, D.C.: St. Clair Clarke & Peter Force, 1839, pp. 809-12
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives, MSA SC 2221-2-12

  5. TITLE: [Newspaper article, detailing the destruction of tea in Elizabeth Town, later Hagerstown, in western Maryland]
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: November 28, 1774, datelined Baltimore
    SOURCE: Peter Force, American Archives, 4th series, vol. 1. Washington, D.C.: St. Clair Clarke & Peter Force, 1837, pp. 1009-10
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives, MSA SC 2221-2-14

  6. TITLE: Thomas Rutland House, 207 Hanover St., Annapolis, Anne Arundel County, MD
    ALTERNATE TITLE:
    Peggy Stewart House
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: Documentation compiled after 1933.
    NOTES: Survey number HABS MD-278. Building/structure dates: Completed ca. 1764. Building/structure dates: Altered 1894
    SOURCE: Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record
    REPOSITORY: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

  7. TITLE: [Photograph] Peggy Stuart's [i.e. Stewart] house, Annapolis, Md.
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: c1905
    NOTES: Also known as the Thomas Rutland House. Detroit Publishing Co. no. 018498. Gift; State Historical Society of Colorado; 1949.
    SOURCE: Touring Turn-of-the-Century America: Photographs from the Detroit Publishing Company, 1880-1920
    REPOSITORY: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

Additional Media Resources

The Drink that Sparked a Revolution. From the Hammond-Harwood House, Annapolis.

Additional Instructional Resources

Colonial Tea Parties. From UMBC Center for History Education, Teaching American History Lesson Plans.

Who Burned the Peggy Stewart? From UMBC Center for History Education, Teaching American History Lesson Plans.

From Indignant Protest to Hesitant Revolutionaries: Maryland and the American Revolution, 1765-1776, MSA SC 2221-1-2: Includes issues of the Maryland Gazette at the time of the Stamp Act Crisis. Also includes the account of the burning of the Peggy Stewart, the Olive Branch Petition signed by three of Maryland's signers of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson's original draft of the Declaration of Independence, and letters from a Maryland soldier at the Battle of Long Island.

Secondary Resources

Baltz, Shirley V. The Quays of the City: an Account of the Bustling Eighteenth Century Port of Annapolis. Annapolis: The Liberty Tree, Ltd., 1975.

Jenson, Ann Dowsett. The Story of an Annapolis Family During the Revolutionary War. Annapolis: Sands House, 1993.

Skaggs, David Curtis. "Maryland's Impulse Toward Social Revolution: 1750-1776." The Journal of American History, Vol. 54, No. 4. (Mar., 1968): 771-786.

Smith, Melbourne and Gilmer, Thomas C. "The Colonial Brig Peggy Stewart" Nautical Research Journal 19(4): 211-221.

Associated Heritage and Preservation Organizations

Maryland State House
State Circle
Annapolis, MD 21401

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Credits

Teaching American History in Maryland is a collaborative partnership of the Maryland State Archives and the Center for History Education (CHE), University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), and the following sponsoring school systems: Anne Arundel County Public Schools, Baltimore City Public School System, Baltimore County Public Schools, and Howard County Public Schools.

Other program partners include the Martha Ross Center for Oral History, Maryland Historical Society, State Library Resource Center/Enoch Pratt Free Library, with assistance from the National Archives and Records Administration and the Library of Congress. The program is funded through grants from the U.S. Department of Education.

This document packet was researched and developed by Nancy Bramucci.

 

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