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1774 – Intolerable (Coercive) Acts

The Intolerable Acts also known as Coercive Acts were a package of five laws implemented by the British government with the purpose of restoring authority in its colonies. The first four Acts were passed as reprisal for the rebellion against the 1773 Tea Act that led to the Boston Tea Party Protest.

The Intolerable Acts were a reprisal to the Boston Tea party rebellion.

The first act was The Boston Port Act which came into effect on March 31, 1774; it closed the port of Boston until the East India Tea company was repaid for the destroyed tea. All shipping, landing or discharging of goods was prohibited in the area within the Boston harbor. This act intentionally punished all the residents of Massachusetts rather than those responsible for the destruction and economic loss during the Tea Party Protest.  Read original text of Boston Port Act.

On May 20, 1774 The Massachusetts Government Act was passed with the purpose of controlling the local government and to eliminate the obstruction and the execution of British laws. Counselors and assistants annually elected by the population were to be appointed by governors. This act severely restricted the authority of colonial assemblies and banned committees of correspondence. Read original Text of the Massachusetts Government Act.

On the same day, May 20, 1774 The Administration of Justice Act came into effect limiting the ability for colonial courts to try British officials. The logic behind this act was that fear of an unfair trial in the colonies could affect the execution of duties of officers acting on behalf of the King. This act gave the governor the power to move trials to other colonies or to Britain and to pay witnesses travel expenses. This act allowed for excesses to be committed by the British against the colony residents. Read original text of The Administration of Justice Act.

The Quartering Act effective June 2, 1774  had the same purpose as the previous Quartering Act of 1765. It mandated colonies to house British soldiers, but this time gave the governor rather than the assembly the authority to do so. Soldiers were to be housed in uninhabited houses, barns, outhouses or buildings that the governor thought necessary to be taken for the purpose of sheltering soldiers. Read original text of the Quartering Act of 1774.

The Quebec Act established on June 22, 1774 enlarged the boundaries of the Province of Quebec and passed reforms favorable to the catholic French majority to boost their loyalty in the face of growing resistance in the New England colonies. However his act did not allow them to elect a legislative assembly. Read original text of The Quebec Act.

Resistance to the mounting taxation and to the new Coercive Acts gave the impetus to the creation of the First Continental Congress which met on September 1774 in Philadelphia.

The First Continental Congress met in Carpenter’s Hall in Philadelphia.


Related information


Consequences and Effects of the Intolerable Acts

Intolerable Acts only made the situation worse by uniting the colonies in their protests to join the First Continental Congress on September 1774.


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