The Coercive Acts

The musical Hamilton put me on an American history kick.  I’ve read the Ron Chernow biography of Alexander Hamilton and have biographies of George Washington and John Adams on my reading list right now.  But have you ever heard of the Coercive Acts?

Coercive ActsThe Coercive Acts – also known as the Intolerable Acts – were passed by the British parliament 244 years ago this week in response to the Boston Tea Party.  This response consisted of 4 major acts:

  • The Boston Port Act which closed down the port of Boston until such time as order was restored and the colonists repaid the Crown for damages of the 342 chests of tea destroyed in the Boston Tea Party.
  • The Massachusetts Government Act took away the Massachusetts colony charter and restricted town meetings to one per year.  It also turned  the Governor’s Council and almost all government roles into royal appointments rather than elected positions.
  • The Administration of Justice Act making British officials immune to any criminal prosecution in the Massachusetts colony.  This was accomplished by giving the Governor the ability to move any trial out of the colony – even back to England.  And in those days, long distance travel was an prohibitively expensive affair when you factored in time away from fields and businesses.
  • The Quartering Act requiring the housing or quartering of British troops on demand – even in colonists’ private homes.

The British Parliament thought that these measures would isolate the radical Sons of Liberty but boy were they wrong.  The harshness of the measures brought actually brought the colonies together and instigated the committees of correspondence that lead to our First Continental Congress and then the Revolution.

Want to know more?  Check out the Wikipedia article on the Intolerable Acts.