Background Info on the Quartering Acts - The 1686 Mutiny Act
The Mutiny Act was passed just after the Glorious Revolution as was the 1689 English Bill of Rights. The Quartering Acts were extensions to the original 1686 Mutiny Act that, apart from dealing with mutiny in the British armed forces, also had clauses relating to standing armies and the billeting of British troops in barracks and public houses in the American colonies. The Quartering Acts were extensions of the original 1686 Mutiny Act. Read the 1774 Quartering Act text and words.
Reasons for the Quartering Act of 1765 - Uncooperative Colonists
The French Indian War (aka the Seven Years War 1754-1763)) was between France and Britain for possession of North America. During this time it is estimated that over 25,000 troops were sent from Britain to America. The British commanders, led by Lieutenant General Thomas Gage, had found it difficult to persuade some colonial assemblies to pay for the quartering and provisioning of troops, as required by law in the 1686 Mutiny Act. The majority of colonies had supplied quartering for British troops during the war, but the issue was disputed in peacetime. The French Indian War ended in victory for the British in 1763. Lieutenant General Thomas Gage reported the quartering problems he had encountered to the British Parliament. His experiences with uncooperative colonists was one of the issues that led to the Quartering Act of 1765.
Reasons for the Quartering Act of 1765 - The Standing Army
In April 1763, George Grenville became the British Prime Minister. Grenville needed to reduce the national debt. Before the French and Indian War the British national debt was only 72 million pounds. By the end of the French and Indian War January 1763, the debt had escalated to almost 130 million pounds. The cost of bringing the British army back to Britain could be avoided if the soldiers remained in the colonies - so the forces stayed in America as a standing army, through the provisions of the Quartering Act.
Reasons for the Quartering Act of 1765 - The Proclamation of 1763
The British victory in the French Indian Wars, saw the start of changes in the American colonies. The 13 colonies were looking to expand their territories to the west. The British had other ideas. The Proclamation of 1763 was designed to calm the fears of Native Indians by halting the westward expansion by colonists whilst expanding the lucrative fur trade. The introduction of the massive boundary, called the Proclamation Line, required the establishment, and the manning, of posts along the border - which the British administration argued was for the defence of the colonists and could be implemented through the Quartering Act.
Reasons for the Quartering Act of 1765 - A Major Change in British Policies
To pay the war debt the British ended their policy of Salutary Neglect in the colonies. They started to enforce the laws of the Navigations Acts and looked for ways of imposing new taxes in the colonies. If they were to collect the new taxes the British would needed a strong military presence to enforce the new measures - the Quartering Act would help them achieve this.
Reasons for the Quartering Act of 1765 - New Laws and Taxes in 1764
Peace in the colonies allowed the British to look for ways of gaining revenue from America and protecting British interests of the merchants in Britain.
- The Sugar Act was passed on April 5, 1764 setting a tax on sugar and molasses imported into the colonies, severely impacting the manufacture of rum in New England
- The Currency Act was passed on September 1, 1764 regulated paper money issued by the colonies to ensure contracts, debts, and the rates of currency exchange were favorable to merchants in Britain. But the currency law threatened to destabilize the entire economy of colonial America - also refer to Colonial, Continental and Revolutionary Currency
The concerns of the American colonists were growing with each change imposed by the British government in particular the Quartering Act as they believed that the British army could easily turn on the colonists.
The Quartering Act of 1765 is passed
The year of 1765 saw even more British measures to increase revenue for Great Britain, which were to the detriment of the American colonists. The Quartering Act was one of these new measures and was passed on March 24, 1765. The British sent an additional 40,000 soldiers to the colonies in 1765 to protect the borders of the colonies and also to help to collect taxes from the colonists - it was a British show of force. The British believed that the colonies should foot the bill for British protection - hence the provisions of the 1765 Quartering Act.
The Provisions of the Quartering Act of 1765
The 1689 Mutiny Act gave Great Britain the right to quarter troops in barracks and public houses in the colonies. The Quartering Act of 1765 went even further. The Quartering Act of 1765 added that, if no accommodation was available in barracks and public houses, British troops could also be housed in a variety of additional locations such as:
- Ale Houses
- Private homes of those selling wine or alcohol
- Livery stables
- Uninhabited homes
- Outbuildings - such as barns
The Quartering Act of 1765 also required colonial governments to absorb the costs associated with quartering British troops which included food, shelter, bedding, cooking utensils, firewood, salt, vinegar, beer or cider and candles.
The Legality of the 1765 Quartering Act is Disputed
The colonies disputed the legality of the Quartering Act of 1765 as it appeared to violate the 1689 English Bill of Rights which forbade the raising or keeping a standing army without the consent of parliament. No standing army had been kept in the colonies before the French and Indian War, so the colonies questioned why a standing army was needed after the French had been defeated. Colonial debts were high and the colonists stated that they could not afford to maintain British troops. The colonists resented the presence of the British and feared the use of troops against themselves. Their opposition to the 1765 Quartering Act and the British presence was fully understandable and the colonists were right to distrust the motivations of the British as their new laws, taxes and policies came into effect...