Explain the coercive acts. What was their purpose?


The coercive acts were the set of four laws that were used by Parliament of Britain to punish the Massachusets Colonists after the Boston Tea Party. For Parliament, the purpose of the acts was to gain authority as the British Colonies were showing resistance. The coercive acts included the Boston Port Act, the Massachusetts Government Act, the Administration of Justice Act, and the Quartering Act of 1774.


The coercive, also called intolerable acts were established as a response to the Boston Tea Party that occurred in December 1773. The coercive acts are the name of the four acts that represented a series of laws regarding Britain’s Colonies in North America.

The British Parliament intended to influence the trend of the unified colonial resistance to parliament authority by reversing it with the punitive measures. The colonial resistance begun with the Stamp Act in 1765. However, the colonists did not agree to the terms, stating that the Parliament violated their rights and started to protest.

The first act was the Boston Port Act that closed Boston’s port and demanded East India Company to pay the price of the destroyed tea that has been dumped into the Boston Harbor during the Boston Tea Party.

Colonists stated that the government did not establish the act reasonably as the residents had to be responsible for the tea, even though they did not participate in the Boston Tea Party. Moreover, they wanted to have an opportunity to testify to prove their innocence.

The Massachusetts Government Act replaced the council members and replaced them with those appointed by the King. Also, the act allowed only one meeting a year, forbidding members from attending meetings more often unless the governor has authorized it. Therefore, it altered the government of Massachusetts, which was supposed to give more control to the British government.

The Administration of Justice act had an intention to ensure a fair trial for British officials who were charged with capital offenses while suppressing protests in Massachusets Bay Colony.

Therefore, the act allowed to remove an acquisition placed on the royal officer if the governor doubted the adequateness of the trial and could relocate British official, who is charged with a capital offense, to a different colony. However, the colonists believed that moving the trial will allow officials to get away with the offense easily. Thus, they referred to the Administration of Justice act as to the Murder Act.

The Quartering Act demanded local governments of the American Colonies to house British soldiers in barracks and to provide food to them. However, the act allowed Colonies to house the soldiers in other buildings if suitable quarters were not available. Hence, British officers provided housing to the soldiers in public places, not in private homes. The soldiers started getting involved in the street fights, participated in the Boston Massacre of 1770, and they stayed in Boston until 1776.

For colonists, the coercive acts were a threat to Britain’s liberties and violation of constitutional and natural rights. The goal of the Parliament was to isolate radicals in Massachusetts and regain the authority.

However, Great Britain received the reverse effect from their intention, as the Colonial reaction was not satisfactory. Colonists managed to form a legislative Provincial Congress that allowed to mobilize resistance to the Parliament and led to the Colonial unity. Moreover, the acts were significant as they led to the American Revolution in 1765.

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