What Was the Colonists’ Reaction to the Intolerable Acts?


On March 28 1774 British Parliament adopted the Intolerable Acts. The legislation, which was intended to reassert British power in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, provoked outrage and resistance from the thirteen colonies.

The Tea Party The Intolerable Acts, also called the Coercive Acts, were the British response to the Massachusetts Tea Party, a political protest during which the revolutionary group the Sons of Liberty boarded several ships in Boston Harbor and threw 342 crates of tea into the harbor to protest the British Tea Act. The Intolerable Acts heavily targeted Massachusetts, and especially Boston, to punish the colonists for the uprising. Britain intended to quash any further colonial rebellions by using the Intolerable Acts to assert authority.

The Acts The Boston Port Act was passed in retribution for the Boston Tea Party, closing Boston harbors until the damages from the uprising were repaid. The Massachusetts Government Act replaced the governor’s council with an appointed military administration and made town meetings subject to approval.

The Administration of Justice Act protected British officials from prosecution in Massachusetts, allowing them to be tried in other colonies. The Quartering Act forced the colonists to accept the responsibility of housing British troops.

The British simultaneously passed the Quebec Act, which offended Protestant colonists by giving Canadian settlers more control over the fur trade and legalizing Catholic worship near largely Protestant territories.

The Colonies’ Response

While the British Parliament hoped that the legislation would isolate Boston from the rest of the colonies, preventing a unified resistance to British rule, the outcome of the Intolerable Acts proved to be quite different.

The other colonies proved eager to unite with and aid the Massachusetts Bay Colony after the legislation was passed. Together, the colonies formed several Provincial Congresses to determine how to move forward in the wake of the Intolerable Acts, and the Boston Committee of Correspondence responded to the decree by emphasizing that the harsh acts threatened all of the colonies and urging the people to boycott British trade. As a direct response to the Intolerable Acts, the first Continental Congress met in Sep. 1774 to discuss how best to unite and oppose British rule.