“ Intolerable Acts ”, or “ Coercive Acts, ” is the name that part of the inhabitants of the thirteen American colonies of Great Britain gave the five laws adopted by the British Parliament in 1774. The laws were mainly aimed at strengthening the role of Great Britain in the management of American colonies. Four of the five laws were in response to Boston Tea Party . By means of these laws, the king and parliament intended to stop the growing resistance movement in the colonies. However, these measures only aggravated the situation, since the colonists considered them a despotic violation of their rights. “Unbearable laws” were the impetus for the convocation of the First Continental Congress , the purpose of which was to take measures to counter the policies pursued by the metropolis.
- The Boston Port Act is the first of the Unbearable Laws, it was the UK's response to Boston Tea Party . The law forbade ships to enter the port of Boston until the city paid compensation to the East India Trading Company for the tea destroyed, and until the king made sure that the rebellion in the city was extinguished. The Bostonians were outraged by this law, since it punished not only those who participated in the “tea party”, but all citizens without exception, preventing them from proving their innocence.
- Massachusetts government act - prescribed a change of colonial government in a Massachusetts colony. From now on, all posts in the government of this colony were appointed by the governor or king of Great Britain. The law also limited the powers of city assemblies in Massachusetts. This law caused even more discontent in the colonies than the Port Act, including outside of Massachusetts, as the colonists feared that the metropolis would soon pass laws to change the government in other colonies.
- Administrative Judicial Act - allowed the Governor of Massachusetts to transfer court proceedings against representatives of the British authorities to other colonies or even to the territory of Great Britain itself, if the governor considered that the defendant could not count on a fair trial on the spot. Although the law guaranteed witnesses reimbursement of all travel expenses, few colonists could leave their home unattended to participate in litigation overseas. George Washington called this law the Murder Act , because he believed that this would allow representatives of the British authorities to violate the rights of Americans and avoid punishment. Other colonists considered the act unnecessary because the British soldiers accused of the 1770 Boston Massacre were given a fair trial.
- Housing act - applied to all American colonies. Prior to its adoption, the local legislative bodies were occupied by the billeting of the British troops stationed in the colonies. But they rather reluctantly collaborated with the British army on this issue. The “Quarterly Act” gave the governor the right, at his discretion, to house the soldiers, if the local legislative authorities did not provide a stand. Historians disagree on this law, some believe that the governor was allowed to allocate only non-residential buildings for soldiers without the consent of the local legislative authorities, while others believed that the governor could even use residential houses for these purposes. One way or another, this act caused the least disturbance.
- The Quebec Act - in fact, was not a response to manifestations of civil disobedience in the American colonies, but the time of its adoption (May 2, 1774) coincided with the time of the adoption of the remaining "unbearable laws." This law concerned the state system of the province of Quebec , annexed by Great Britain to France as a result of the Seven Years War . The law was favorable to French Catholics living in Quebec. Namely: the law expanded the borders of the province, changed the oath of allegiance , so that it no longer referred to the Protestant faith, gave Quebec colonists freedom of religion and established the French civil code as the basis of the judicial system in Quebec. Many American colonists (most of whom were Protestants ) feared that the British government wanted this law to enlist the support of the French Canadians in order to use them to pressure the British colonists.
Britain hoped to isolate Massachusetts radicals and force the colonies to recognize the supremacy of parliament over local elected bodies. The risky move, however, turned against her. The severity of the new laws pushed even moderate colonists, and there were fewer votes in favor of parliament. On the contrary, sympathy for Massachusetts grew and prompted the previously scattered colonies to convene the First Continental Congress , and then to the formation of the Continental Association to boycott British goods, and if this does not help to repeal the acts, then stop exporting to the UK. Finally, Congress announced the mutual support of the colonies, which in the future meant their joint actions during the revolution .