The Bostonians Paying the Excise-Man, 1774 British propaganda print that depicts the tarring and feathering of Boston Commissioner of Customs John Malcolm. This was the second time Malcolm had been tarred and feathered.
In a typical tar-and-feathers attack, the mob's victim was stripped to his waist. Hot tar was either poured or painted onto the person while he was immobilized. Then the victim either had feathers thrown on him or was rolled around on a pile of feathers so they stuck to the tar. Often the victim was then paraded around town on a cart or wooden rail. The aim was to inflict enough pain and humiliation on a person to make him either conform his behavior to the mob's demands or be driven from town. The practice was never an official punishment in the United States, but rather a form of vigilante attack.
The Sons of Liberty was a group consisting of American patriots that originated in the pre-independence North American British colonies. The group was formed to protect the rights of the colonists and to take to the streets against the taxes by the British government. They are best known for undertaking the Boston Tea Party in 1773, which led to the Intolerable Acts (an intense crackdown by the British government), and a counter-mobilization by the Patriots.
The Boston Tea Party was one of the most effective pieces of political theater ever staged. John Adams, no fan of mob action, wrote of the dumping of the tea: "There is a dignity, a majesty, a sublimity, in this last effort of the patriots that I greatly admire." December 16, 1773, after officials in Boston refused to return three shiploads of taxed tea to Britain, About 50 members of The Sons of Liberty, boarded 3 ships in Boston Harbor. Some were dressed as Mohawk Indians. In a very orderly and quiet fashion, they plunked 9,659 worth of Darjeeling into the sea.