Intolerable Acts

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The Intolerable Acts, or Coercive Acts, were a series of acts presented at the Parliament of Great Britain in response to the Boston Tea Party.

The Four Coercive Acts

  • The Boston Port Act, approved on March 30 and becoming effective on June 1, 1774, closed the port of Boston to all commerce until the town compensated the East India Company for the lost tea, as well as paid duties owed to the Crown. The act transferred the royal customhouse from Boston to Salem for the duration of the act. Ships were not allowed to either load or unload any cargo except for military stores, food, and fuel; all of which had to be cleared by the customs authorities.
Opposition came from the Whigs: Edmund Burke, William Dowdeswell, the West Indian merchant Rose Fuller, and young Charles James Fox.
  • The Massachusetts Government Act, approved on May 20 and becoming effective on July 1 and August 1, 1774 (two dates for different provisions), changed the Massachusetts Council to a body appointed by the king, with each councillor remaining in office at the king's pleasure. The Massachusetts governor was given the exclusive power to appoint and dismiss all executive and inferior judicial officers, including the justices of the peace and sheriffs. Superior court judges were to be nominated by the governor and then appointed by the king. Juries would be chosen by the sheriff instead of democratically elected by the people of the towns. All town meetings and agenda actions were barred except by the approval of the governor.
Opposition came from Whigs and liberals: Sir George Savile, Colonel Barre (who supported the Port Act), Charles James Fox, General Conway, and Edmund Burke.
  • The Administration of Justice Act, signed on May 20, 1774, exempted royal officials from being tried in Massachusetts for any high crimes while in the course of their duties. The trial would be transferred from the local courts to Great Britain if the governor and Council decided that it would not be a fair trial in Massachusetts.
Opposition came from Colonel Barre and others.
  • The Quartering Act, approved on June 7, 1774, applied to all colonies and forced the provinces to supply all unoccupied houses and dwellings to quarter British troops, in the location the troops desired. Should the troops rather be quartered in the city of Boston than at the government barracks, they had to be appeased.
Opposition came only from Lord Chatham. [1]

The Fifth Act

  • The Quebec Act was regarded as part of the Coercive Acts by the colonists and the Rockingham Whigs. Passed in the same session as the Coercive Acts at the end of June, the act was composed of two main parts. It fastened a permanent frame of government on the people of Quebec and aggressively expanded the province's borders. The main cause for opposition were the domestic provisions concerning the frame of permanent government for the French. The act deprived Quebec completely of any elected Assembly as well as any right to trial by jury in civil cases. Legislative authority was placed in a royally appointed Council. The power to levy taxes, save local taxes, was given to the Parliament. A supplementary act imposed duties on imports into Quebec to pay for the royally appointed officials. [2]