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According to the Arthur Meier Schlesinger essay, A Popular Uprising, the Boston Tea Party was a "turning point in the course of events both in America and Britain. In both America and Britain, the merchants and moderates thought the destruction of private property as lawless. This act could not be ignored by any self-respecting government, and that those responsible should be punished." (p.89)

The destruction of the tea was so reprehensible that Parliament passed the Intolerable or Coercive Acts of 1774. Bostonians would bear the brunt of these acts. In the end, neither the Colonists nor England could now back down without a complete surrender.

The Five "Intolerable Acts"

There were five acts passed on March 28, 1774, by Parliament, four of these acts were punitive in nature. The fifth act was not for punishment, it was an extension of the boundaries of Quebec to the Ohio River and gave French Roman Catholics in the region both religious liberty and double protection of French and English law.

The other four acts were punitive in nature. These acts were:

  1. The Boston Port Act closed the port of Boston until the East India Company was paid for the lost tea. Since commerce was the lifeblood of Boston, this act inflicted hardships on all the townspeople the innocent and the guilty alike.
  2. The Massachusetts Act modified the Colonies charter of 1691, taking away many highly prized rights of self-government that that province had long enjoyed.
  3. The Administration of Justice Act provided that British officials accused of committing crimes in a colony might be taken to England for trial.
  4. The Quartering Act allowed the governor of Massachusetts to quarter soldiers at Boston in taverns and unoccupied buildings.

If the Colonists had accepted these acts, this would have meant yielding nearly all of their claims to the right of self-government. They responded to this threat by calling for an economic boycott and holding the First Continental Congress.

These acts in effect were the last straw for the colonists. Nothing short of complete independence would solve the problems between the colonies and the British Parliament. The causes discussed in this series led to the battles of Lexington and Concord, and the American Revolution.

References and Resources

For more reading and information about the Intolerable Acts, check these resources.

  1. A Popular Uprising, by Arthur Meier Schlesinger, The Ambiguity of The American Revolution, ed. Jack P Greene, Copyright 1968.
  2. Quebec Act of 1774
    This was the fifth act passed by Parliament as described above.
  3. Documents of the American Revolution
    Check out this site's documents section for more useful documents about the American Revolution.
  4. Declaration of Rights of the First Continental Congress (1774)
    Look at the grievances of the Colonists.
  5. Non-Importation Agreement, 1774
    The Continental Congress wrote this agreement of Non-importation of British goods, to protest, the "bad" policies of Parliament. This article is located on the Archiving Early America Web site.