why colonists disliked the intolerable acts?
Below is an essay I wrote for A302 at Indiana University on the Intolerable Acts. Please note I got a 98% A for this essay, so I feel pretty good about sharing it with you.
The first Continental Congress formed in reaction to Parliament passing the Intolerable Acts (p. 240). A series of acts designed to punish the colonies, Massachusetts more than any other, in reaction to the Boston Tea Party. Bostonians raiding a ship and throwing tea off to the side was not well liked by Parliament and gave the impression that Massachusetts was in open rebellion, not protesting a tax. The truth really is the colonies were riding the fringes of both, protesting so fervently that they really are becoming totally rebellious. Beyond just not being able to enforce the tax, this came down the destruction of property, which ultimately was costing Britain valuable revenue.
The Intolerable Acts were a series of five acts passed by Parliament. These acts, designed to be destructive to the American economy, were:
1. Boston Port Act – closed Boston from all commerce. The only shipping allowed in was the Imperial Naval supplies (p. 236-237).
2. Massachusetts Regulatory Act (Massachusetts Government Act) – The House was essentially destroyed. It remained, but only with puppets appointed by the governor, who would also be appointed. No other councils or public meetings could happen without royal permission (p. 236).
3. Impartial Administration of Justice Act – Any British officer or official accused of any capital crimes would be sent back to Britain for trial (p. 236). The colonists charged this was outrageous pointing to John Adams successful defense of the British soldiers accused in the Boston Massacre.
4. Quartering Act of 1775 – The same act as 1765, but with the added provisions that now soldiers must be housed in private homes, or public buildings such as taverns or inns (p. 236). The colonists especially hated this act, as it was a very private invasion of their basic lives.
5. Quebec Act – This act enlarged the territory of Canada. Mostly unrelated to the others, its timing lumped it in as an Intolerable Act (p. 237). No doubt many in the Northern colonies thought this was nothing but a ploy to take valuable land from their colonies. Certainly it was trumped up in the colonies as another sign of Parliament trying to show it can “bind the colonies in all cases what so ever” by taking land from them.
With each colony sending representatives except for Georgia, the first Continental Congress set out to try to determine how they should react to these reprehensible acts. The two major topics they wanted to tackle: what is the basis for American rights and what extent do we go to protect those rights (p. 249). What they came out with after a month of meeting ((September 5th through October 14th) (p. 241 & 252)) was the Declaration of Rights (p. 253). It stated that Parliaments had no rights to represent or tax them, and that they would do these themselves. It did concede allegiance to the Crown however (p. 253).
Other main developments include their agreements to non-importation of all goods, the stocking of weapons and powder, and forming/enrolling of local militias. With non-importation renewed terrorist tactics by the “Patriots” on anyone who violated the agreements. If caught trading any British good you would be named in your local newspaper as a traitor.