What Was the Purpose of the Coercive Acts?

British Parliament implemented the Coercive Acts, known to the American colonists as the Intolerable Acts, to punish the residents of Boston for the Boston Tea Party and strengthen British control over Massachusetts. The British hoped to use strict martial law to isolate Boston and New England from the other colonies.

The Boston Port Act closed down the port of Boston until the colonists paid for the tea they had destroyed. The Massachusetts Government Act all but abolished free Massachusetts' colonial government, leaving authority in the hands of a crown-appointed governor. The Administration of Justice Act allowed British officials to be tried in England for crimes committed in the colonies. The Quartering Act forced colonists to house British soldiers, even in private homes, if no other accommodations were available. The Quebec Act turned disputed territory the colonists claimed over to the province of Quebec and authorized freedom of worship for Catholics in Canada, which many Protestant colonists resented.

Great Britain supposed that, when faced with such restrictions, the colonists would acquiesce to British demands and submit to British oversight. Instead, the colonists saw the acts as threats to liberty, and the legislation exacerbated colonial hatred for Great Britain. Soon after the implementation of the Coercive Acts, the First Continental Congress, a prelude to the Second Continental Congress and its Declaration of Independence, was convened.