Grade Range: 4-12
Resource Type(s): Artifacts, Primary Sources
Date Posted: 6/11/2014
This teapot was made in England about 1766-1770, possibly by the Cockpit Hill Factory, Derby, England. Inscribed on one side of the teapot is “No Stamp Act” and on the other is “America, Liberty Restored,” both within flowerheads and stylized scrolling leaftips in black. The cover is painted with a matching border.
Teapots such as this were made for sale to the American market soon after the 1766 repeal of the hated Stamp Act, passed by the British Parliament on March 22, 1765. The Stamp Act required American colonists to pay a tax on all printed materials—from documents to playing cards. This was the first direct tax on the American colonies and provoked an immediate and violent response throughout the colonies.
The teapot also serves as documentation of the intersections between home and public life. In the pre-revolutionary era, the fashionable social custom of taking tea was fast becoming politicized. In her 1961 monograph on tea drinking, Rodris Roth points to the importance of tea drinking to “the social life and traditions of the Americans” as well as to the political, historical, and economic importance that tea holds to U.S. history. By the time the “No Stamp Act” teapot was made, tea was very popular in the colonies and accessible to most Americans. The importance of tea and tea drinking to colonial society is underscored by the controversy surrounding it; in 1767 merchants and citizens protested the Townshend Act which imposed a duty on tea (as well as other commodities), and in 1773 the Boston tea party became a defining moment in American history.