The Tea Act of 1773 was one of several measures imposed on the American colonists by the heavily indebted British government in the decade leading up to the American Revolutionary War (1775-83). The act’s main purpose was not to raise revenue from the colonies but to bail out the floundering East India Company, a key actor in the British economy. The British government granted the company a monopoly on the importation and sale of tea in the colonies. The colonists had never accepted the constitutionality of the duty on tea, and the Tea Act rekindled their opposition to it. Their resistance culminated in the Boston Tea Party on December 16, 1773, in which colonists boarded East India Company ships and dumped their loads of tea overboard. Parliament responded with a series of harsh measures intended to stifle colonial resistance to British rule; two years later the war began.