On Dec. 16, 1773, the Sons of Liberty boarded three East India Company ships in Boston Harbor and dumped an entire shipment of tea over the side, an act that became known as the Boston Tea Party. This action led to the British Parliament's passing of the Intolerable Acts, laws that ended Massachusetts self-rule, closed Boston Harbor to trade, and escalated colonial tensions prior to the American Revolutionary War.
The Sons of Liberty formed in Boston after Britain passed the Stamp Acts, laws that would force taxes on the American Colonies in order to pay debt incurred after the French and Indian Wars. The group spread quickly throughout the Colonies, fueled by word of mouth and through pamphlets and newspapers written by members like Benjamin Edes and John Gill of the Boston Gazette. Other famous members included Samuel Adams and John Adams, Paul Revere, Patrick Henry, John Hancock, and the traitor Benedict Arnold.
The Boston Tea Party was far from the only act of protest by the Sons of Liberty. In 1765, American politician Andrew Oliver was commissioned to enforce the Stamp Act in Boston; the Sons of Liberty first hanged him in effigy from the Boston Liberty Tree, then ransacked his house and offices. In 1772, they boarded, looted and burned the HMS Gaspee, a customs ship, when it ran aground in Rhode Island. They fought with Washington's Army throughout the Revolutionary War, and even after the war they actively pushed to eliminate British Loyalists from the new nation.