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1778, from tea + party (n.). Political references to tea party all trace to the Boston tea party of 1773, in which radicals in Massachusetts colony boarded British ships carrying tea and threw the product into Boston Harbor in protest royal taxation. It has been a model for other libertarian political actions in the U.S. (mostly symbolic), including citizen gatherings begun in early 2009 to protest government spending.
To join together in some effort; buddy up (1956+)