One of the immediate causes of the American War of Independence (1775-83) was a conflict between the British Government and the American colonists over taxes imposed by the British. Tea was one of the things taxed. On 16 December 1773 Samuel Adams, a political leader of the colonists, presided over a mass meeting of Boston townsfolk. ‘This meeting’, he announced, ‘can do nothing more to save the country.’ At this signal fifty to a hundred men disguised as Red Indians boarded ships carrying tea from Britain and hurled their cargoes into the harbour. This was known as the Boston Tea Party. Retaliation followed. The port of Boston was closed, and the colony of Massachusetts was deprived of many of its rights of government. The colonists banded together. Agitation was whipped up. Volunteers began to arm and drill. On 19 April 1775 British troops, sent to seize a store of muskets, were attacked at Lexington, and this was the signal for the outbreak of war.