The Bostonians Paying the Excise-Man or Tarring and Feathering, Plate 1 of 6 Artist, attributed to: Philip Dawe (British, ca. 1750–ca. 1790)
Publisher: James M. Bennett (American, active mid-late 18th century)
Publisher: Robert Sayer (British, 1725–1794)


Prints and Drawings

Political tension had been brewing between the American colonists and Great Britain for several years when it finally reached the boiling point over the Tea Act of 1773. With this legislation, Parliament granted the struggling English East India Company a monopoly on all tea imported to America. The colonists expressed their bitter discontent through a boycott. In the foreground of this print, five irate Bostonians force tea down the throat of a tarred-and-feathered man, purportedly John Malcomb, commissioner of customs for the Crown. In the background, still more protestors throw crates of tea into Boston Harbor—a reference to the events of December 16, 1773, which have since become known as the Boston Tea Party.


Mezzotint with some burin work


sheet: 18 5/8 × 11 5/8 in. (47.3 × 29.5 cm)

Credit Line

Mabel Brady Garvan Collection

Accession Number



18th century


Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of records is ongoing.



Mabel Brady Garvan Collection, to 1946; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.
  • Helen A. Cooper et al., Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness: American Art from the Yale University Art Gallery, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2008), 25, 64, 76–77, no. 28, ill
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