Today in American History: May 20, 1774

Today in American History: May 20, 1774

King George III of England was so outraged by the Boston Tea Party and several other destructive outbursts from the American colonists, that on May 20, 1774 he gave his royal consent to three out of the four of the Coercive Acts. This outraged the American Patriots, who saw King George III as nothing but a power hungry tyrant. 

The Coercive Acts were also known as the Intolerable Acts. They were a series of laws created by the British government. The goal of the British government was to restore order in Massachusetts and punish the Bostonians for their rebellious Tea Party scheme. The Boston Tea Party occurred when members of the revolutionary minded Sons of Liberty, boarded British ships in the Boston harbor and threw over 342 crates of tea into the water. In today's money, that would be close to $1 million. This was their response to the Tea Act set in place by the British. 

Because of the Americans’ disobedience, the Coercive Acts included:

-The Boston Port Act, which closed the port of Boston until Bostonians paud for the damages from the Boston Tea Party.

-The Massachusetts Government Act, which restricted Massachusetts people from participating in democratic town meetings and turned the governor’s council into an appointed body.

-The Administration of Justice Act, which made all British officials exempt from any form of criminal prosecution in Massachusetts.

-The Quartering Act, which required American colonists to house and feed British troops on demand, including in their private homes.

King George III gave his royal consent to the first three acts of the Intolerable Acts on May 20, 1774. He soon after approved the Quartering Act on June 2, 1774.

The Quebec Act (a fifth act), was later included with the Coercive Acts. This new act extended freedom of worship to Catholics in Canada. It also granted Canadians the continuation of their judicial system. The mainly Protestant colonists did not look too kindly on the ability of Catholics to freely worship so close to their borders.

The most important thing that came from these acts was the colonists' response. The British government hoped that these acts would cut off Boston and New England from the rest of the American colonies. They assumed this would stop the colonies from unifying against British rule. They also expected the rest of the colonies to abandon Bostonians. What happened was just the opposite. Americans from all across the colonies came rushing to aid Boston. They send supplies and formed their own congresses to discuss the misuse of power from the British and form a resistance to the crown. In September of 1774 the First Continental Congress met in Philadelphia and began planning a united front against British rule in the American colonies. So, as Americans, I guess we can thank King George III for sparking the fire of independence and helping form the United States of America.

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