In the early 1770’s, a number of unfavourable Acts were forced onto the British Colonists in America. These would come to be known as ‘the Intolerable Acts’ and were in basis four Acts passed by the British Government in an effort to punish what they saw as colonial defiance of previous Acts, most importantly the Tea act which resulted in the now famous Boston tea party.
These four Intolerable Acts included the Boston Port Act, which effectively closed the port of Boston, affecting trade and economy until the Bostonians repaid the losses suffered by the East India Company for the Boston Tea Party, set at around £90,000.
The Massachusetts Government Act removed the right to convene colonial government meetings and placed it within the Governor’s control along with the appointment of the government members effectively removing control of the state to British Parliament.
The Administration of Justice Act which allowed all British Crown officials right to trial away from the American colonies, in England, or an alternative colony. This Act allowed any witnesses and claimants the right to reimbursement for travel to trial, once paid for up front, but did not allow for loss of earnings whilst making the round trip and attending the trial, which could take several weeks. Effectively this prevented many witnesses from being able to attend, and gave free licence to Crown officials to break any laws whilst on American soil that they felt like without retribution.
And finally the Quartering Act. In its various guises through the previous years, the Quartering Act had been a measure imposed state by state to allow for the housing, clothing, feeding, and transportation of British troops placed in the colonies to provide a defence. Issues had arisen over time as to what extent the civilian population of the colonies were responsible for providing these measures. As each state had its own laws and administration, the success of the continuously evolving acts were subject to open interpretation. Unfair taxes imposed on the colonies through duties, which paid their governors a salary, rendering them loyal to British Parliament rather than the colonies they represented, meant in some instances, terms were imposed that were considered unlawful or at the very least unsavoury.
As a result of the annual Mutiny Acts, civilians who worked in some part for the Army, such as those who supply food and provisions, could be tried under Martial or military law for acts of what are considered mutiny, which include failure to supply. As Mutiny was punishable by death, this understandably caused some concern when the Mutiny Act was used as the basis of the Quartering Act.
A standing army was not considered a peacetime requirement, and many colonists refused to pay for what they considered unnecessary when they had already raised and trained a part-time civilian militia, who had to some degree proven themselves useful in the previous seven year’s war (French and Indian war). They felt it unreasonable therefore to have to pay for a standing army who they had to quarter, often in their own homes, feed, clothe and so on. They also felt it infringed upon their right to bear arms. These points were later reflected in the second and third amendments of the constitution, as they were in direct contradiction of the Bill of Rights.
This Act was passed and implemented on 2nd June 1774 and along with the other Intolerable Acts, directly contributed to the outbreak of war the following year.