American Revolutionary War

Intolerable Acts
House of Commons ©Karl Anton Hickel
1774 Mar 31

Intolerable Acts

London, UK

The Intolerable Acts, sometimes referred to as the Insufferable Acts or Coercive Acts, were a series of five punitive laws passed by the British Parliament in 1774 after the Boston Tea Party. The laws aimed to punish Massachusetts colonists for their defiance in the Tea Party protest of the Tea Act, a tax measure enacted by Parliament in May 1773. In Great Britain, these laws were referred to as the Coercive Acts. They were a key development leading to the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War in April 1775.

Four acts were enacted by Parliament in early 1774 in direct response to the Boston Tea Party of December 16, 1773: Boston Port, Massachusetts Government, Impartial Administration of Justice, and Quartering Acts.[18] The acts took away self-governance and rights that Massachusetts had enjoyed since its founding, triggering outrage and indignation in the Thirteen Colonies.

The British Parliament hoped these punitive measures would, by making an example of Massachusetts, reverse the trend of colonial resistance to parliamentary authority that had begun with the Sugar Act 1764. A fifth act, the Quebec Act, enlarged the boundaries of what was then the Province of Quebec notably southwestward into the Ohio Country and other future mid-western states, and instituted reforms generally favorable to the francophone Catholic inhabitants of the region. Although unrelated to the other four Acts, it was passed in the same legislative session and seen by the colonists as one of the Intolerable Acts. The Patriots viewed the acts as an arbitrary violation of the rights of Massachusetts, and in September 1774 they organized the First Continental Congress to coordinate a protest. As tensions escalated, the Revolutionary War broke out in April 1775, leading to the declaration of an independent United States of America in July 1776.

Last Updated: Tue Oct 03 2023

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