The Burning of the Peggy Stewart

Artist: Francis Blackwell Mayer (1827-1899)
Title:  The Burning of the Peggy Stewart
Date: 1896
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 72 x 53"
Accession number: MSA SC 1545-1111

In October, 1774, Annapolis experienced its own “tea party,” reminiscent of the uprising that occurred the year before in Boston Harbor.  When the brigantine Peggy Stewart arrived at the port of Annapolis on Friday, October 14, laden with a cargo of tea, its contents were subject to a highly controversial tax imposed by Britain on goods imported to America. When the owner of the Peggy Stewart, Anthony Stewart, paid the “tea tax,” he violated the non-importation resolution implemented by the colonists in protest.

By Wednesday, October 19, a crowd had gathered in Annapolis threatening Stewart’s life if he did not destroy the ship and its cargo. Unwilling to accept Stewart’s offer to destroy the tea, the crowd demanded that the vessel be burned. Fearing the mob might attack his home where his wife lay ill, Stewart gave in to their demands. Artist Frank B. Mayer depicts the scene when Stewart, escorted aboard the Peggy Stewart by members of the crowd, was forced to set alight his own ship and its cargo of tea.