Few historical events have been obscured more by the mists of memory than the Boston Tea Party. On the night of Dec. 16, 1773, colonists chucked 340 crates of British tea into the harbor. Today, the event comes up most often as the inspiration for a conservative political movement. For many years before that, reenactors had reduced it to a colonial costume show — a pageant of disguises, tricorn hats, and patriotic pluck. All too often, the event has come across as a colorful prank.
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