What were the Intolerable Acts

What were the Intolerable Acts

Do you know about the Intolerable Acts and how they changed the course of world history? The coercive and unjust nature of the laws passed carved the path leading to the American war of independence, because people were sick and tired of continuous ill-treatment.
Even though many have read about the American Revolution, not many know about the string of laws passed which led to the final war that lasted from 1775 to 1783. These coercive acts of legislation were the names given to the four laws that had been passed by the British Parliament in 1774 against its 13 colonies in North America. These arbitrary laws further infuriated the colonists which rose up in revolt. Thus began the American Revolution and henceforth the creation of the United States of America as we know now. Let us find out as why exactly did the British Parliament feel the need to impose the acts at this juncture of their colonial rule.
The Boston Tea Party
The history of the acts begins with the event of the Boston Tea Party which has become a memorable part of American history. The 13 colonies were enraged by the Stamp Act as well as the recently passed Tea Act. The Tea Act restricted the shipments of tea that entered the colonies. The colonies believed it violated the basic fundamental of "No Taxation Without Representation" which had been emerging as the popular belief ever since the 1750s. The colonies demanded the right of being taxed by their own elected representatives and not by the monopolistic East India Company owned by the British Government.
Therefore once the Tea Act came into place, the people finally rebelled, on December 16, 1773 the historic event known as the "Boston Tea Party" took place in a harbor of Massachusetts. The British officials under the orders of Royal Governor Thomas Hutchinson, refused to dispatch three colonially taxed tea shipments to the United Kingdoms as they deemed these taxes as illegal and considered only their own as legitimate. Allowing the colonies to levy taxes on their tea would mean that they had self-governing rights.
On that day on refusal by the British officials to dispatch the shipments, a group of revolutionary colonists boarded the ships and sunk 343 chests of tea by throwing them overboard into the harbor. It led to three more colonies following suit by preventing the unloading of their taxed tea by the British. This was the first official spark of revolt that finally led to the series of events that brought about the American declaration of independence. It became an iconic event for the world at large and many political uprisings took their influence from the Boston Tea party.
The Intolerable Acts of 1774
In order to fully understand the revolution, it is necessary to identify the purpose behind the British Parliament's intentions. Why did they have to go ahead with the implementation of these new arbitrary acts? These coercive acts were created so as to take retribution from the colonies for their act of mutiny in Boston. These acts were ratified by King George III and the British Parliament in 1774, as a means of punishment that was to be meted out to the American colonies as well as to reinforce the Empire's jurisdiction over all the colonies that had dared to rebel.
Boston Port Act
The Boston Port Act was made into law on March 30, 1774. The British officials shut down the Boston port and offered to reopen it on two conditions, first being that the East India Company had to be monetarily compensated for all the damages caused by the destruction of the tea shipments. The second being that King George III's restitution of the Boston harbor would happen only once he was satisfied that the order was restored among the colonies.
The colonists vehemently objected to the conditions put forth. Their contention being that only the individuals responsible for the destruction of the tea should be punished and not the rest of the people, who demanded that they be given an opportunity to testify their innocence.
The people of Massachusetts were distressed because the port was their biggest source of supplies and it being shut down had cut off their essential provisions. Both the Loyalists as well as the Patriots unified under these conditions so as to seek help from the other colonies such as South Carolina. Therefore the Boston Port Act led to the convening of the first Continental Congress on September 5. 1774 in Philadelphia so as to coordinate a unified response to the Port Act. The Continental Congress had the representation of 12 colonies under the governance of the British Parliament.
Massachusetts Government Act
The Massachusetts Government Act was implemented on May 20, 1774, this law declared that the government's charter had been abrogated and that the colony was to be made a part of the British Empire. Therefore all the officials under the colonial governments were to be appointed by the British governor or by the King himself. That meant that the colony's House of Representatives could no longer enjoy the right to elect the members for its Executive Council. The act also severely curtailed the town meetings except as and when allowed by the governor.
This was countered by the Patriot leaders of Massachusetts who in revolt created the Massachusetts Provincial Congress in October 1774. This Congress acted as an independent government free from royal control. It began collecting taxes, buying supplies and even forming an army for itself. Thus began the initial stage for the revolution from this point on wards.
Administration of Justice Act
Is also popularly known as the Murdering Act. It was made into law on May 20, 1774 and it was intended to continue the blatant injustice that the American colonists had to face during the Boston Massacre. The Murder Act stated that the governor had the right to transfer the trials of accused royal officials to England, where they could get a fair and just trial. He believed that justice was not possible for royal troops within the jurisdiction of Massachusetts. It was also stated that the witnesses to these cases would be required to present themselves in the royal courts in Britain just so as to give their testimony and were to be paid for traveling to UK. This was considered as sheer harassment of the people and was vehemently opposed by the Patriots as well as George Washington who would later lead the Continental Army into battle against the British.
Quartering Act
This act was applied on June 2, 1774 on all the 13 colonies. It aimed to create more conducive housing facilities for all the British troops stationed in America. The previous Act of 1765 had been rejected by the colonies as it violated their Bill of Rights of 1689. This bill mentioned that no standing army was to be raised or maintained within the colonies by the people of the colony. Therefore the colonies refused to entertain the British troops and provide accommodation for them.
Though the new Quartering Act imposed the arbitrary rule upon the colonies. It stated that a governor had the right to house soldiers in any other buildings that were unoccupied. Only if they could not find suitable quarters for themselves or if these quarters were not provided for them by the colonists. This insufferable act generated the least opposition from the colonists as they seemed submissive towards this settlement.
You can experience a bit of the overall mutual resentment that the people of the colonies experienced at that time. This resentment led to full-fledged war in which the Americans rose up victorious and were no longer subservient to the British Empire. George Washington the first elected US presidents of the independent USA and played a vital role in drafting the US Constitution as well. Now they are considered to be one of the greatest superpowers of the world.
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