Intolerable Acts
five British laws


Intolerable Acts were five British laws to which the American colonists strongly objected. The acts were passed by the British Parliament early in 1774. Four of these laws were intended to punish the people of Massachusetts for destroying the tea that they threw into Boston Harbor in December 1773, and to strengthen British authority in Massachusetts. The Intolerable Acts were also known as the Coercive Acts.

The first act, the Boston Port Act, closed the port of Boston. According to this law, the port would be reopened only after Bostonians paid for the tea and showed a proper respect for British authority.

The second act provided that any officer or soldier of the British government who was arrested for murder could be sent to England for trial.

The third act, called the Massachusetts Government Act, changed the charter of Massachusetts. It provided for a council appointed by the Crown and prohibited town meetings without the governor's permission, except to elect officers. The fourth act required the colonists to quarter (feed and house) British soldiers.

Americans mistakenly believed that the fifth act, called the Quebec Act, was also intended as a punishment. This act extended the province of Quebec southward to the Ohio River, and granted freedom of worship to Roman Catholics in the province.

The Intolerable Acts were an important force in uniting Britain's 13 American Colonies. The British leaders who had intended merely to punish one colony found that they had practically driven all the colonies to war.

Contributor: John L. Bullion, Ph.D., Prof. of History, Univ. of Missouri at Columbia.


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