Revolutionary War: The Intolerable Acts (1774)

Figure 1.--This period engraving ws entitled 'The Boston boys and General Gage'. We do not know who the artist was, it may have been the engrver, C.W. Sharp, del. & sculp. We believe thisrepresents the British view. The heroic General Gge has been disptched to Boston to sort out the quaresome Bostonians who are depicted as schoolboys. Source: Library of Congress.

Parliament's response to the Boston Tea Party was the Intolerable Acts (1774). The desire to negotiate differences with the Colonists disappeared. They were going to be forced to obey Parliament and the Kings' ministers. Opinions about the Boston Tea Party had varied in the Colonies,. Some Colonists admired the action and resistance to British policies. Others Viewed tghe act as violent and radical, There was no hesitation in Parliament. The British Prliament passed the Coercive Acts (1774). The aim was to punish the Colonistsand to restore firm British control. The Colonists immediately christen the new laws the Intolerable Acts. They were aroup of seprate acts. One of the most important was the Boston Port Bill, which closed Boston Harbor to all shipping until Bostonians had paid damnages to the British East India Company. TYhet were damages that would never be repaid. The Acts also restricted public assemblies and suspended many of the civil liberties that Colonits had considered to be basic rights as British subjects. Strict new provisions were also made for `requiring Colonists to house British troops in their homes. This revived the animoity of the earlier Quartering Act, which the British Government to difuse tensions had allowed to expire in 1770. While the initial reaction to the Boston Tea Party was mixed, there was littl division on the Intolerable Acts. A wave of public sympathy for Boston erupted throughout the colonies. Towns and villages in the Boston area sent food and supplies to city which was now blockaded by the Royal Navy. Sir Thomas Gates was also appointed military governor of the Province of Massachusetts Bay. He was ordered to stringintly the Intolerable Acts. Gage had proven to be a capable administrator, helping to ease French populted Quebec into the British Empire. This was because the French Candians offered no real resistance and he was not sent to punish them. Exavtly the opposite sitution prevailed in Boston. Gage at first thought that the probelm was rable rousing by asmall group of radicals found mostltin Boston. As he became more familiar with the situar\tion hecame to see democracy itself as the root cause. He wrote that "democracy is too prevalent in America" (1772). [Fischer, p. 39.] He came to believe that the British Governmen should abolish town meetings should be abolished and recommended that British colonisation should be limited to the coastal areas where they could be more easily controlled a British rule enforced. [Fischer, p. 39.]


Fischer, David Hackett. Paul Revere's Ride (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995).


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Created: 6:20 PM 5/22/2012
Last updated: 6:20 PM 5/22/2012