July 2, 1774 — Following the Boston Tea Party — when Massachusetts colonists tossed 342 chests of tea belonging to the British East India Company into Boston Harbor — today, Britain’s House of Lords issued a series of five laws that American Patriots called the Intolerable Acts.
These included the Boston Port Act, the Massachusetts Government Act, the Administration of Justice Act, the Quartering Act, and the Quebec Act. Click here for details.
The new laws were an amendment to the original Quartering Act, which allowed a governor in colonial America to house British soldiers in uninhabited houses, outhouses, barns, or other buildings if suitable quarters not provided.
Historians explain: “Parliament was utterly fed up with colonial antics. The British could tolerate strongly worded letters or trade boycotts. They could put up with defiant legislatures and harassed customs officials to an extent. They saw the Boston Tea Party as a wanton destruction of property by Boston thugs who did not even have the courage to admit responsibility. Someone was going to pay.”
Samuel Adams, in a letter to James Warren, wrote of the Acts: “This Town has received the Copy of an Act of the British Parliament, wherein it appears that we have been tried and condemned, and are to be punished, by the shutting up of the harbor and other marks of revenge, until we shall disgrace ourselves by servilely yielding up, in effect, the just and righteous claims of America….The people receive this cruel edict with abhorrence and indignation. They consider themselves as suffering the stroke ministerial…I hope they will sustain the blow with a becoming fortitude, and that the cursed design of intimidating and subduing the spirits of all America, will, by the joint efforts of all, be frustrated.”
Words of Wisdom
Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.