Massachusetts Government Act

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The Massachusetts Government Act, formally "An Act for the Better Regulating the Government of the Province of the Massachusetts Bay, in New England," was a bill passed by the Parliament of Great Britain on May 20, 1774 that modified the system of government in the colony of Massachusetts. It was one of the "intolerable acts" strenuously opposed by the colonists.

Up to that time, Great Britain had not interfered significantly in local affairs, and Massachusetts landowners largely controlled local politics. But following civil disobedience, such as the Boston Tea Party, and increasingly radical and anti-monarchy rhetoric, Parliament and George III made a number of changes to the Massachusetts Charter as created by William and Mary.

Among the changes were:

  • The colony would be ruled by a council and a governor chosen by the King
  • Local officials and judges would be selected by the governor
  • Public meetings could only be held with the approval of the governor
  • Jurors were to be selected by sheriffs (which were now to be appointed by the governor), rather than by popular election
  • Local officials were to annually make lists of all individuals eligible to be jurors, to give to the sheriffs
  • The procedures for jury trials were fully enumerated

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