Events leading up to the Massachusetts Government Act 1774
The events that led to the passing of the Intolerable Acts, including the Massachusetts Government Act, were primarily the:
The Sons of Liberty, a secret, underground organization formed following the 1765 Stamp Act, were Patriots who agitated and protested against British rule in the colonies. The Massachusetts Government Act was one of the series of reprisals for the actions taken by the patriots. Read the 1774 Massachusetts Government Act text and words.
The Massachusetts Government Act 1774
The Massachusetts Government Act was:
"An Act for the better regulating the government of the province of the Massachusetts Bay in New England. "
The Massachusetts Government Act:
- Put an end to the constitution of Massachusetts
- Only one town meeting was permitted a year in Massachusetts, unless approved by the governor
- Town officials would no longer be elected, they were to be be appointed by the royal governor
- The executive council would no longer be elected, but appointed by the King
- The Massachusetts Government Act revoked the colony's 1691 charter
The Massachusetts Government Act - The Appointment of General Thomas Gage
The Massachusetts Government Act gave the royal appointed governor of Massachusetts control of the colony, rather than the people. As part of the British attempt to intimidate the residents of Boston, King George III appointed General Thomas Gage, who commanded the British army in North America, as the new military governor of Massachusetts in May 1774. After the events of the Boston Massacre General Gage had said that "America is a mere bully, from one end to the other, and the Bostonians by far the greatest bullies." The appointment of General Thomas Gage made it clear to Boston colonists that the crown intended to impose martial law, in which a military government suspends civil law.
General Thomas Gage
Effects of the Massachusetts Government Act 1774
The Massachusetts Government Act Act intentionally passed to punish all the residents of Massachusetts rather than those responsible for the destruction and economic loss during the Tea Party Protest. Read the original text of Massachusetts Government Act for full details of the tone and the provisions of the act. The British King George and parliament believed that the people of Massachusetts could be punished without the other colonies objecting. They believed that the harsh punishment of the whole Massachusetts colony would panic the other American colonies into conceding the authority of Parliament over their elected assemblies. The British were completely wrong.
Reaction of the other Colonies to the Massachusetts Government Act 1774
The other colonies sympathized with the people of Massachusetts and many deplored all of the Intolerable Acts including the Massachusetts Government Act. The British had revoked the colony's 1691 charter, had appointed a Military Governor (General Thomas Gage) and had effectively imposed martial law, in which a military government suspended civil law. They saw the Intolerable Acts, including the Massachusetts Government Act, as:
- A violation of their constitutional rights, natural rights and and their colonial charters
- Abolishing Colonial Laws
- Fundamentally altering the forms of Governments and suspending Legislatures
- Suspending trade
If the British could do this to Massachusetts then it could do this to the other colonies. In addition the Quebec Act had limited opportunities for the American colonies to expand on their western frontiers. The Committees of Correspondence sprang into action gaining support from the other colonies and this led to the First Continental Congress which was convened in Philadelphia on September 5, 1774, to coordinate a colonial response to the Intolerable Acts.