That event in 1773 is widely depicted with colonists dressed as Indians who are shown wearing feathers, fringe and face paint. Here's the most famous image, an 1846 lithograph by Nathaniel Currier.
And here's one from a children's picture book, The Boston Tea Party, published in 2001, written by Pamela Duncan Edwards, illustrations by Henry Cole:
Given the multiple misrepresentations of that moment, I wondered if it would be echoed in yesterday's "tea party" events. Watching Jon Stewart's coverage of it, I had my answer (see lower right image):
UPDATE, 6:45 PM, April 16, 2009
Jeremy Cote, Phoenix, AZ, posted (to Flickr) "On warpath against more taxes!" In it are two women and two children, wearing tan-colored shirts, feathers in their hair. The children have signs taped to their shirts that say:
"Paleface taxes no good."
"Let little brave keep wampum."
UPDATE, 6:56 PM, April 19, 2009
A few minutes ago, a reader submitted a comment, pointing to a photograph in the NY Times. It accompanies a story titled "Tax Day is Met with Tea Parties." There is no reference in the article to the photograph, which shows a boy in a headdress.
UPDATE, 8:10 AM, December 16, 2014
For writing about how the colonists were dressed, see:
- A Retrospect of the Boston Tea-party: With a Memoir of George R. T. Hewes published in 1834 by S.S. Bliss.
- The Historic Boston Tea Party of December 16, 1773: its men and objects, by Caleb Arnold Wall, published in 1896 by Press of F.S. Blanchard & Co. (see accounts by various participants: Slater, p. 24; Hewes, p. 42; Wyeth, p. 47)
UPDATE, 9:20 AM, December 16, 2014
Here's the cover of The Boston Tea Party, December 1773, "text" by Josephine Pollard, "drawn" by H. W. McVickar (used quotations marks around text/drawn because those are the words on the title page). Published in 1882 by Dodd, Mead & Company, it has been digitized. Don't buy it from Amazon. You can read the entire book, free, online.
An (Incomplete) List of Illustrators that Got it Wrong with Feathers and Colored Face Paint:
1882: H. W. McVickar got it wrong in The Boston Tea Party, December 1773 (by Josephine Pollard)
2001: Henry Cole got it wrong in Boston Tea Party (by Pamela Duncan Edwards)
2013: Lauren Mortimer got it wrong in What Was the Boston Tea Party? (by Kathleen Krull)
2013: Peter Malone got it wrong in The Boston Tea Party (by Russell Freedman)