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The Age of George III

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The Coercive Acts 1774 (the "Intolerable Acts")

In 1773, Lord North's ministry passed the Tea Act allowing the East India Company to send tea directly to the American colonies. On 16 December 1773 the Boston Tea Party occurred, following a confrontation between the Patriots, the consignees of the tea and customs men. 340 chests of tea worth £9,000 were dumped into Boston harbour, although all the damage to the ships was repaired. Elsewhere - Philadelphia, New York, Charlestown - the consignees were "persuaded" not to accept or to sell the tea. The trouble was still over taxation.

News of the Boston Tea Party reached England by January 1774: very quickly for this point in time. The press had published the story before Lord North even knew about it. The reaction in Britain was one of anger and a feeling that Massachusetts must be punished, as an example to the other colonies. The government rushed a series of pieces of legislation through parliament: In Britain they were known as the Coercive Acts but the American colonists labelled them "the Intolerable Acts".

The Boston Port Act, 31 March 1774.

Boston harbour was closed to all shipping except for coasters carrying necessary fuel and supplies, until

The customs service was moved to Salem and Marblehead.

The Massachusetts Bay Regulating Act 20 May 1774.

The Administration of Justice Act 20 May 1774

This empowered the Governor of Massachusetts to remove trials to another colony or to Britain if he felt that the juries in Massachusetts would be partial. The Act applied largely to Crown officials and troops carrying out their orders. The Americans called this the "Murder Act". There was little chance of offenders being given a fair trial in America but there was little chance of justice being meted out in Britain either.

The Quartering Act 2 June 1774

This was an amendment to the 1765 Quartering and Mutiny Act which broadened the law. There were four more regiments of troops at Castle William with inadequate quarters. The Act allowed for the quartering of these men in empty houses, inns and barns but also in private houses if necessary. Under the 1765 Act, the colonists were required to provide accommodation for British troops. The soldiers were also to be supplied with fire, candles, vinegar, salt, bedding, cooking utensils, up to five pints of small beer or cider or half a pint of rum mixed with two pints of water per man. The colonists were to meet the expense of this for themselves.

The Quebec Act was passed on 16 June. It was not a Coercive Act but the timing was poor.


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Last modified 26 October, 2013

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