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2 p.m. The Plucky Matron: Deborah Cushing’s Tea Caddy

Tin and paint, circa 1773




By the second half of the eighteenth century, tea had become a beloved beverage for all classes of American colonists. To keep their household tea dry and secure, many people kept it in caddies. Besides featuring a lock to keep its contents safe, this caddy also has a partition for dividing black and green teas.

Deborah Cushing, however, had no interest in keeping her tea safe or dry in 1773.

It is believed that, when patriots dumped tea chests from the ships into the harbor during the Boston Tea Party, Mrs. Cushing was inspired. Upon finding that her husband, future Lieutenant Governor Thomas Cushing, was unwilling to destroy their tea, she fetched her little caddy and tossed the tea into the waves of Boston Harbor. In casting away her household tea, Deborah joined the ranks of the many colonial women who destroyed or boycotted household tea in protest of unpopular British restrictions on this important trade item.

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