The United States is a country steeped in myths, stories, and powerful images, especially from the American Revolution. Few stories have endured like the Boston Tea Party. Some of the basic facts about the Boston Tea Party are fairly well known. It took place, of course, in Boston, on the evening of Dec. 16, 1773, at a place called Griffin's Wharf. Over the course of three hours, a crowd of about 150 (that's 50 men per each ship, including the Darmouth, the Beaver and the Eleanor) helped to heave 342 chests of tea into the harbor [sources: PBS, Walker]. The East India Company estimated its losses at nearly 9.7 thousand British pounds -- that amount of money represents the equivalent of 18.5 million cups of tea [source: The Old South Meeting House] This massive amount of tea turned the water in the harbor brown for several days [source: The American Revolution].

We know who some of the protesters were but, many also remain unknown. And only one man, a fellow various called Francis Akeley or Francis Eckley, was sent to jail. So what caused this famous act of protest? Were people really dressed as American Indians, and why? What does the Boston Tea Party have to do with "taxation without representation?"

In this article, we'll take a look at those questions and more as we consider this important event in American history. We'll also discuss what exactly caused the residents of Boston to be so upset about a few shipments of tea and why those patriots' acts may have contributed to the start of the American Revolution.