The Intolerable Acts

Parliament was fed up with colonial tricks. They saw the destruction of the 342 chests of tea belonging to the British East India Company as destruction of property by Boston thugs who did not even have the courage to admit responsibility‚ÄĒsomeone was going to pay.

The British called their responsive measures to the Boston Tea Party the Coercive Acts. Boston Harbor was closed until the owners of the tea were paid. Only food and firewood were permitted into the port. Town meetings were banned, and the authority of the royal governor was increased.

British troops and officials would now be tried outside Massachusetts for crimes of murder. British officers who wanted to house their soldiers in private dwellings were granted more freedom to do so.

Parliament seemed to have bad timing. Right after passing the Coercive Acts, it passed the Quebec Act, a law that recognized the Roman Catholic Church as the established church in Quebec. Anger spread through the 13 colonies. With this one act, the British Crown granted land to the French in Quebec that was clearly desired by the American colonists. The extension of tolerance to Catholics was viewed as a hostile act by predominantly Protestant America.

Democracy took another blow with the establishment of direct rule in Quebec. Although the British made no connection between the Coercive Acts and the Quebec Act, they were seen on the American mainland as malicious and were collectively called the Intolerable Acts.

  • Boston Port Act: An act to discontinue the landing and discharging, lading, or shipping of goods, wares, and merchandise, at the town, and within the Boston harbor in the province of Massachusetts Bay, in North America.
  • Massachusetts Government Act: An act for regulating the government of the province of the Massachusetts Bay.
  • Administration of Justice Act: An act for the impartial administration of justice in the case of persons questioned for any acts done by them in the execution of the law, or for the suppression of riots and tumults, in the province of the Massachusetts Bay.
  • Quebec Act: An act for making effectual Provision for the Government of the Province of Quebec in North America.

Throughout the colonies, the message was clear: what could happen in Massachusetts could happen anywhere. The British had gone too far. The other 12 colonies sent supplies to Massachusetts.

It was under these tense circumstances that the First Continental Congress convened in Philadelphia on September 5, 1774.

Source: The Intolerable Acts
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